Automatic waterer or buckets – which is best?


I love both, for a few reasons, and I use both, so I always have a “backup”, just in case. Turns out, my horse seems to prefer to drinking from the big ol’ tubs, and not the automatic kind. But he will, which is great when that’s his only choice.


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Automatic waterer advantages:


  • They vanquish the need for filling buckets. BAM. That’s the biggest advantage. Lots of time saved.


  • Automatic waterers can have heating capabilities to prevent freezing in the winter.


  • You can also find some automatic water dispensers that are metered so you can track water intake.


horse drinking from small automatic waterer

This auto waterer won’t freeze in the winter.



Automatic waterer disadvantages:


  • Easy for your horse to break if he’s into fiddling with things. Either he can break it so no water comes out, or he can break it so the water won’t stop.
  • He can also get a leg stuck in the hoses, or he can get a leg stuck in the bowl. You would think they would keep their legs out of stuff like that, but it’s not the case.


  • Tricky to do a deep scrub, you need to disassemble.


  • May need additional heating units for winter.


  • With deep freezes, the automatic waterer may be damaged.


  • Usually, there is no way to measure how much water your horse is drinking per day. You can get measuring devices for waterers, you may have to reset them daily.


  • If your horse needs water additives to entice drinking, the dilution will never be correct in an automatic waterer.


  • If your horse is a hay dunker, well, yuck. It’s tricky to get the bowl totally goo-free.



rusty and small automatic waterer

One style of the automatic waterer. Not so good for areas where hard freezes are common.



Water bucket advantages:


  • You can measure how much the horses are drinking. This may be the only reason that my dream barn has buckets.


  • Easy to clean buckets.


  • Easy to transport to shows.


  • Easy to mix electrolytes or vinegar in the proper dilutions.


  • Easy to have a separate hay dunking bucket away from the drinking buckets.


  • Water buckets can be easily insulated, without electricity for use in the winter.


blue 5 gallon bucket


Water bucket disadvantages:


  • More wasted water.


  • If you don’t have a long hose or faucets throughout the barn, it’s a workout.


  • It’s also still a workout as you lift the buckets up to the clips.


  • It’s also a workout to think about lifting and toting buckets all over the land.


  • Horses can get a leg stuck, creating quite the mess and possible vet bill.


  • Frozen blocks of ice.

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