Electrically heated livestock waterers

If a stock waterer develops an electrical fault, such as a bare hot wire touching a metal chassis, some electrical current may find its way to animals “grounded” in wet soil around the waterer. The current could deliver an uncomfortable shock that discourages the animals from getting their full quota of water.

Normally, the internal ground wire that forms part of the conductor bundle supplying power to the waterer can take care of leakage current. But the effectiveness of the internal ground wire may be reduced because of the long distance from the power source to the waterer, or from corrosion that can result from age.

Follow these operating and maintenance guidelines to protect you and your animals from electric shocks.

  • Be sure the waterers are solidly mounted on a firm platform.
  • Install the service box or panel close to the waterer in a protected area so animals cannot damage the equipment.
  • Metal parts of the waterer should be grounded back to their source with #6 AWG stranded copper wire. Metallic guard rails in contact with waterers must be connected to the grounding conductor by a terminal welded or bolted to the rail.
  • The #6 AWG wire provides added insurance that electrical current from a fault is intercepted before it finds a path to ground through an animal or human in contact with the stock waterer.

Before turning on your stock waterer’s power for winter, check connections for damaged or frayed conductors. Cleaning up corroded connections with a wire brush is a good idea.