Below-freezing temps threaten the well-being of creatures, big, small — and furry. Whether you’re managing a cattle herd or in charge of Fido the family canine, hydration in freezing temperatures is key to their well-being but can be a challenge.
Heated water buckets, bowls and troughs are helpful inventions but with any electrical appliance that operates in or near water, if not functioning property, can result in an electric current flowing through the water or onto the ground where livestock or Fido stands to take a drink.
Here are a few reminders to help prevent an electric shock from harming your livestock or your beloved four-legged friend.
Keep the ground underneath and around troughs, heated bowls and waterers dry. Saturated ground is highly conductive — electric current will move through wet ground easier than dry ground. It’s best to place waterers on cement pads with the ground graded and graveled for proper drainage.
Discard damaged floating de-icers and heated water buckets. Wires within these devices can crack or break, and rodents can chew through the wires — all of which can lead to electrical leakage.
Install GFCI’s (ground fault circuit interrupter) to prevent electrocution as they sense stray voltage and cut off the power before it can harm anyone or anything.
If using extension cords for floating de-icers and heated water buckets, check regularly for cracked or frayed casings, damaged plugs — basically any wear and tear. Use grounded extension cords with three prongs on the plug — not just two.
Observe livestock when drinking water. If they approach for a drink and abruptly move away, they may be receiving an electric shock. If an electrical leakage is going into the ground, you may not realize it and this could be deadly. Shut off the power and call a licensed electrician.
Sources: K-State Research and Extension, The Chronicle of the Horse