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Several fits for frost-free nose pumps

Nose power is all that’s needed for these off-site water systems

Across North America operators from equine centers to commercial cattle operations are discovering the merits of Frostfree Nosepumps as a viable and reliable all-season option to deliver water to all classes and age of livestock.

These systems utilize geothermal heat from the ground to operate without freezing, and the manual piston pump is operated by the animal itself.

As an animal pushes a paddle with its nose to reach the water at the rear of the bowl, a piston pump brings approximately one half litre of water to the bowl. A foot valve at the bottom of the pipe holds the water in the system. When the animal is finished drinking, the paddle retracts to the forward position, leaving the bowl nearly empty. This prevents the bowl from freezing.

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Rimbey Alberta farmer Jim Anderson developed pumps for his own beef herd several years ago. The systems are still built on the family farm, and today with more than 2,000 systems in service across North America.

Off-site watering for cattle

As cattlemen strive to improve forage grazing systems, feeding systems, and remove cattle from riparian areas, the need for remote watering systems grows. Frostfree Nosepumps have solidly joined wind and solar as viable and reliable options for stock water.

Kip Panter, who ranches near Richmond, Utah and recently retired from the position of director of the Poisonous Plant Research Lab at Utah State University, was approached by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to fence his cattle away from a creek on the ranch.

The project involved fencing off the creek and building corrals. NRCS provided the money for the material and Panter provided the labour.

He installed nose pumps and is pleased with their performance. “The cattle always have clean water,” says Panter. “No algae develops because they don’t have any water standing in them. The cattle drink the pans dry, so there’s no water left in the pans to freeze. I’m down by the river in the coldest spot in Cache Valley. We’ve been down to -40 C and the nose pumps have not frozen.”

Horses figure them out too

Getting into the Northern Ontario region at Little Current on the northeast side of Manitoulin Island, Kyla Jansen, says the nose pumps work great for horses, especially when electricity wasn’t available. She may have been the first horse owner to break the skepticism surrounding the use of nose pumps.

Jansen operates a riding stable on her farm and boards horses as well. There are between 30 and 35 horses on the farm year round. When Jansen bought the farm, a little over 15 years ago, she inquired about bringing electricity to the farm. “They quoted the hydro was going to be $160,000 just to bring in the poles,” says Jansen. “That wasn’t going to happen.”

Jansen installed the first nose pump 15 years ago, a second 10 years ago, and is currently planning to install a third system. “The pumps have far exceeded my expectations,” she says.

The nose pumps also had a good fit for horses and cattle in B.C.’s Peace River Region. “Our ranch is kind of spread out, and we don’t have a lot of infrastructure in places where we need winter water,” says Jodi Kendrew, an equine veterinarian and rancher near Dawson Creek. “We’ve put in waterlines, but we don’t have any electricity. We tried a few different options. Of the electricity-free winter waterers, the nose pumps are the least problematic, hands down.”

Kendrew installed the systems in 2002 and put horses on them very shortly after installation. “We started with some saddle horses in the summertime. We pumped the water for them a couple times to show them how to do it. Within three or four days they had it figured out.”

Creep water for small calves

And young calves can benefit from water produced by the nose pumps, as well. Brendon Anderson, a farmer near Rimbey, Alberta, and a son of the designer, designed a system for his calves.

“My dad was always of the opinion that small calves didn’t need a creep waterer because the cows produced all of the fluids that the calf needed,” says Anderson. He was nervous, especially with my first-calf heifers, particularly if there were concerns about producing enough milk.

While the young calves aren’t tall enough, and muzzle not strong enough to operate the pumps directly, Anderson added a creep watering system to his nose pumps for summer use, and other producers have followed his lead. “We just tapped into the supply under the hood of the pump,” he says. “Next we built a triangular pen off of the back of the hood and put a trough in the corner nearest the hood.”

Anderson tapped an 11/32-inch hole in the supply line under the hood and threaded in a barbed fitting. He ran tubing from the fitting to a float valve in the trough. He constructed the trough from a 50-gallon drum. As mature animals work the pump to get water, some it follows the added supply line to the calf trough.

“I think a lot of the calves do get enough from their mothers, but there are always a few that go in there and get a drink,” he says. It’s just right for me. It gives me piece of mind that the water is in there, if they need it.”


Proper installation for a trouble-free nose pump will be covered in Part 2, of this two part series.

For more information contact Jeff Anderson through the Frostfree Nosepumps website.

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