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How to Choose the Right Horse Automatic Watering System
How to Choose the Best Automatic Waterer for Your Horse

by Ritchie Waterers

Automatic livestock watering systems have been around since the 1920’s.  Since then, the automatic waterer has evolved tremendously, resulting in a vast variety of sizes and materials.  Countless companies have developed and designed waterers that ultimately, achieve the same function. 

So how do you decide which one is right for you?
When considering an upgrade to an automatic waterer, or simply replacing an old one there are a couple of things to look for.  Durability, reliability, reputation of the company and their waterers, warranty, simplicity in parts, energy efficiency, maintenance, and function.  If you have an existing waterer, what is the size of the area they are planning on placing the new waterer?  Will the waterer they prefer fit into that space with little or no modifications?  What is the electric supply and will it work with what you are replacing it with?  Although they have an existing watering system, will your existing water pressure accommodate the new watering system without a change in valves?  Price also plays an intricate part in decision process but can also be one of the largest mistakes.  Yes watering systems are very similar in appearance and function.  However, the reliability and durability are not the same.  As a matter of fact, buyers will purchase a less expensive brand, only to have to replace the parts often or even replace the unit altogether faster than they would have had they purchased a higher quality model the first time. 

The valves are the heart of the automatic waterer.
Choose an automatic watering company that provides a valve that will pump out enough water so that your animals can not drink the trough dry.  Be sure that other valves that are rated for a variety of water pressures are available as well.    Ritchie Industries provides a time proven valve that works so well, other watering companies are using them in their waterers.  There are various sizes to accommodate water pressures and pump out enough water that small sediment in the water will not stop the function of the valve. 

Riser tubes for automatic waterers
Ritchie Waterers Keep Horse Water from FreezingMost automatic waterers these days that require a water line to be run below the frost line will require a riser tube of some sort.  By riser tube, I mean a tube to center the vertical portion of the water line in.  So what is the reason for this and what can be used for this riser tube?
The overall intention for a riser tube is to prevent frost from carrying over to the waterline, thus resulting in slushy water or a frozen line.  The supply line touching the riser tube is the most common cause of the supply line freezing.  A common misconception is that if the riser tube is filled with insulation, wood or other foreign material, this will prevent the freezing.  Since frost can migrate, any fill in the riser tube will only increase the chances of the lines freezing.
So what should be used for a riser tube?  Many things have been used, larger PVC pipes, concrete tubes, just to name a few. However neither of these materials will provide the ultimate protection to the automatic waterer during the winter.

Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa conducted a study during the winter of 1992-1993. Their studies indicated an insulated water supply line helped maintain temperatures above freezing.  The same study showed insulated water supply lines with an 8” inner diameter and an 12” outer diameter provided optimum freeze protection and sufficient access for service.  They found that this size would help retain the heat of the water as it went through the water line.  This helped to prevent freeze-ups even when ambient temperatures were far below the freezing point.  A second portion of this study also showed that there is no ground heat going up the thermal tube to the automatic waterer and ground heat cannot provide enough heat to keep the waterer from freezing.
Water Does Not Freeze for Horses
Ritchie Industries created their thermal tubes according to the ISU study.  The Thermal tubes have an 8” inner diameter and 12” outer diameter and are insulated with two inches of insulation providing an r-value of 14.  More information about Ritchie Thermal tubes can be found by following this link www.ritchiefount.com.

Debunking Automatic Waterers Myths
Being in business for 100 years has allowed us to hear and understand what customers and other watering companies are saying about automatic waterers. 

Myth - Electric heated waterers are unsafe and can cause your animal harm.

Truth - Electricity and automatic waterers have been combined much longer than any unheated unit has been on the market.  With modern regulations, each waterer put on the market that is CE, UL, CSA rated must meet a very high standard of safety.  Installing the waterer to the manufactures recommendations, including installing a ground rod under the unit, will help increase the safety of the unit and eliminate the chances of stray voltage carrying over to the unit.  Electric heated waterers have been and continue to be the most popular choice among automatic waterer owners especially in areas that have severe winters.   
Thousands of these waterers are sold every year with no incidents.

Myth - Electrically heated units are expensive to run during the winter

Truth - With modern day technology, insulated automatic waterers can run throughout the winter for pennies a day.  They are fully insulated and efficient at the same time giving you the peace of mind that your waterers are open on the coldest days. 
The newest combination plastic/steel trough waterers will run in the most severe climates for under $20 for the entire season

Myth - If a horse kicks an automatic waterer that features a float and valve system, the valve will stick causing it to stay open and flood the area around it.

Truth – Completely false. The float and valve system is the most popular among automatic waterers.  This system is safely housed inside the automatic waterer protecting it from the impact that kicking and rubbing may cause.  The float and valve system was developed and patented in 1921 which set the standard of waterering from that point on.  This system could not have sustained 100 years of top market performance if it failed each time an animal kicked the unit. 

Myth - Paddle type, energy free automatic waterers do not freeze.

Truth -The design of these units allows water to drain as and after the animals drink. However, if any debris/feed etc gets into the bowl, it will plug the hole where the water drains out.  This will cause it to freeze and/or over run.

Myth - I have no way of knowing if my horses is drinking with an automatic waterer.

Truth - There are some horse owners that are reluctant to switch from a bucket to an automatic fountain because they use the bucket to gauge how much water their horse is drinking.
We do have a water meter that can be installed to answer this question.

Ritchie Horse WaterersRitchie Industries offers a variety of automatic waterers that are designed to withstand  abuse.  They have proven their reliability since 1921 and continue to develop and improve their units.  Units are available in a variety of materials, all plastic, all steel or a combination of both.  All units come have standard or optional heat.  And for areas that do not have electricity, constant flow or gas heat is available on some units.   Energy efficiency has been a constant consideration in the development of the automatic waterers. 

Phone: (800) 747-0222
Email: equineinfo@ritchiefount.com
Website: RitchieFount.com

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