Installing a freeze-proof tank is a simple way to avoid chipping ice in the winter and improve pond longevity.
Marley Beem, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension pond management specialist, said the tanks provide warm water in freezing temperatures.
“The water does not freeze because most of the tank is buried underground for insulation and a valve allows water to keep moving through in cold weather,” he said. “Freeze-proof tanks are connected to the nearby pond through a pipe in the dam, and provide water with a trough on the surface.”
In a heavily used livestock pond, it is best to entirely fence out cattle to extend the pond’s life by protecting the dam and shoreline from trampling and erosion. Fencing will make the tank much more effective and protect the pond from unnecessary damage while maintaining good water quality.
In the winter months, tanks and fencing also give owners the peace of mind that cattle will not fall into a frozen pond, avoiding an uncommon but unnecessary loss.
For the full year, freeze-proof tanks provide a dependable source of cool, clean water for livestock. Because cattle are unable to rest in the water, there is a lower risk of toxic algae and parasites developing in their water supply, Beem said.
The reduced bank access also will prevent cattle from damaging soft shorelines and sediment filling the basin. As a result, the pond can last for several more decades with cleaner water and stable pond banks.
“These small changes to pond health are a big deal in droughts because water levels are at their lowest and it is easier for foul water conditions to develop,” Beem said. “From a purely economic point of view, poor water quality will harm the profitability of a livestock operation.”
For upkeep after the initial installation, freeze-proof tanks only need to be kept functioning by turning a valve during cold weather and ensuring the tank is insulated by soil. For fenced ponds, shoreline vegetation may need to be manually trimmed because cattle will be unable to graze on the banks.
Freeze-proof tanks are an investment towards easier winters, pond quality and livestock health.
For more information, including links to assistance surveying land for installation and possible cost-share programs from the National Resources Conservation Service and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Service, visit http://water.okstate.edu/projects/ecosystems/lentic.