If you’re chopping ice in order to water your cattle in cold winters, one central Alberta farmer has a better recommendation for you.
Randy Radau, at Coulee Crest Farms, uses a solar waterer to care for his purebred cows year round. It’s a system without any operation costs and one that doesn’t require manual labour.
The solar-powered system also cuts down on the utility bill, which makes it environmentally friendly.
Radau said the water is sourced from a deep dugout on his farm, and is run to a watering bowl designed for the cattle. The system even features a motion detector.
The dugout is about 15 feet deep and has been on the farm for about 50 years. It’s deep enough that the top layer in the winter freezes over, but there is still water underneath. The pump runs the water to a bowl for the farm’s approximately 160 purebred Hereford cattle.
“(The use of the motion detector) is if the water stays up in the bowl all the time, it may freeze on days like today,” the farmer said Thursday, whose grandfather started the farm in 1927.
“So when the cows come up to drink, the pump starts, and it pumps the water up into the bowl. And as soon as they walk away, the pump quits and water goes back down underground.”
The system cost about $7,500 to install and has been on the farm for about a decade. Radau was able to obtain grants from Red Deer County and the province at the time.
“We don’t have the job of chopping ice. We have fenced the dugout off, so they won’t fall in the ice. This works without any energy cost, and the cattle basically take care of themselves watering,” said the farmer, who lives east of Bowden.
Prior to this sytem, the third-generation farmer was spending about half an hour every day chopping ice, with the danger of cattle slipping and falling.
For more information, visit www.rdcounty.ca/207/Conservation.