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Insulated Livestock Tank for Under $60

If you followed my previous blog from Shy Apache Ranch, then you know I like fun DIY farm projects and experiments.

The Farmer's Almanac predicts that this winter in Arkansas is to be extra cold with more snow than usual. So...this is my way of attempting to conserve energy, avoid breaking ice, and save some moola this winter. John and I decided we'd try our hand at an insulated livestock tank, pictured.

Materials: We used our current plastic stock tank and found some scrap materials we had laying around our garage, and sourced a few free materials from Marketplace and John's job site:

  • Plywood, particle board, pallet wood, etc - any scrap wood to create a casing around your stock tank.

  • Decking screws (long)

  • Foam or insulation or both (we used both) - Hot tip: foam comes in a lot of your Amazon boxes or old TV/PC/appliance packaging.

  • Old 2 x 4's (pieces of scrap wood) for edges

  • Paint tray, old paint brush, and old roller - Cheap, exterior paint can be sourced from the "reject" paint stack at your local hardware store or you'd be surprised at how many people give paint away on Marketplace.

I did purchase a few inexpensive items for this project:

  • Exterior Paint - $16 at local hardware store (was in time-crunch so did not go the free route for paint)

  • Spray Foam (all weather) - $8 - Sutherlands

  • A roll of Gorilla Tape (waterproof) - $12.50 Amazon

  • DAP exterior paintable silicone - $4 - Sutherlands

  • Roll of reflective insulation - $19 Amazon

After crafting a case and layering the foam boards, we stuffed the remaining void spaces of the box with insulation. Then we made a lid (John's creativity there). I asked him to cut out a section of the lid so as to trap heat in as many areas as possible, whilst allowing horses to have a large enough opening to drink. We lined the lid with a foam board and taped the edges to prevent any loose pieces of foam from the edges we had cut from falling into the water.

From there I sprayed the all weather spray foam along the top of the tank, to ensure that any snow, ice, or rainfall won't penetrate into the softer insulation underneath. I used DAP silicone to fill all the seams to help waterproof those, and trap heat in.

I painted the box dark brown because it matches our Priefert panels, but also because it's a dark color which will attract the sun, trapping in more heat (in theory).

The removable lid on the top of the box will allow us to remove the tank for cleaning, or in spring/summertime when we no longer want the tank to be insulated.

Last step -- I filled the tank. The horses seem to be happy with it. I will post an update later this winter about how it works and let you know if there is any ice forming on the top. Supposedly, per the innerwebs, this baby should keep the water completely thawed up to -20 degrees. (I have no idea if that's true, but we will find out!).

Cheers and happy trails!


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