Business Profile Control Devices LLC

Published on Thu, 12/05/2013 - 9:30am

Winter Watering Made Easy The Latest Option to Fight the Freeze

For most of the U.S., the winter months are the most challenging for the cattle industry. Most livestock producers agree, when temperatures begin to drop, stress levels begin to rise — for the animals and for the good folks who dedicate their lives to raising them. Going head-to-head with Mother Nature is no easy task this time of year!

Cold-stress can wreak havoc on a herd if the animals are not in prime condition. You will want to take appropriate measures to ensure your cattle are ready for the season and remain in optimum physical shape throughout months of harsh cold. Among the most important factors to keeping livestock healthy in winter conditions are ensuring your cattle have access to plenty of quality feed and most essentially, an ample supply of water at all times.

Appetites increase as animals’ bodies expend more energy to keep warm. Without additional feed to supply that energy, cows will quickly begin to lose critical body mass as their systems compensate by burning stored fat. Maintaining water consumption is vital, as cattle with limited water intake also take in less feed. A common myth is that cattle stay hydrated by consuming snow and licking ice. In fact, cows need an average of 14 gallons of water each day. Animals without adequate water intake face the risk of dehydration — the number one cause of livestock death each winter. Without enough water, dehydration can occur in a matter of days.

When temperatures dip below freezing, maintaining your water source can be a tiresome and frustrating chore whether you manage a large industrial facility or a small family ranch. Until recently, options to maintain drinkable water in freezing conditions have been costly, backbreaking, potentially hazardous, and sometimes all of the above.

Standard methods to avoid tank freeze-over have included round-the-clock heating mechanisms powered by electricity or other fuel sources, elaborate insulation systems, constant-flow equipment, and expensive specialty tanks — all of which carry their own risks as well as added overhead.

Alternatives, especially for those operating “off the grid,” have traditionally been more physically demanding. Continuously replacing water, manually thawing or breaking up iced-over tanks can all keep you physically fit, but can be tiresome and disruptive to daily life.

In the fall of 2012, Control Devices, LLC introduced a new automatic ice prevention system specifically for livestock watering tanks. The Ice Bull is a simple, thermo-activated valve which, when partially submerged in the tank, regardless of water level, is designed to open when the water temperature drops below 42° Fahrenheit.

As warmer water is allowed to flow into the tank, the ambient temperature in the tank naturally rises, while turbulence at the water’s surface helps to slow the freezing process. The valve automatically closes once the water temperature warms back to 42°, reducing overhead by avoiding water waste.
The Ice Bull does not require a power source, further reducing operating costs as well as eliminating unsafe wiring near your water source, which can pose a danger to your stock, crew, and equipment. In fact, the cost of installing an Ice Bull valve is often lower than the expense of repairing damaged or malfunctioning tank heating systems.

The Ice Bull system has been met with enthusiasm and has received encouraging reviews. The Ice Bull has been tested successfully at temperatures as low as -30° Fahrenheit. In the event of a malfunction, the valve was designed to default to the open position, ensuring continued water flow to your tank. While this is not a common occurrence, it is recommended that your tank be equipped with a standard overflow system when using The Ice Bull valve.

The Ice Bull was designed to attach to a standard float valve, and can be easily retrofit to most existing tank configurations. The Ice Bull is available for purchase as an individual unit or complete kit at

The Ice Bull is proudly made in the USA.