Besides food and vaccinations, water is a vital part of life for cattle. And the best cattle waterer is a life-saving solution for farmers.
Cattle waterers constantly keep the water clean and clear so your cows will stay hydrated and remain healthy.
However, finding a high-quality cattle waterer can be challenging for first-time farmers.
We reviewed dozens of cattle waterers on the market, and selected the TOP 5 for you, rating them on their efficiency, durability, ease of maintenance, and price point.
Table of Contents
- Our Picks
- How We Chose The Best Cattle Waterer Options
- Best Cattle Waterers Reviewed
- Comparison Chart
- The Winner
- What Should You Consider for Your Perfect Cattle Waterer?
- Why Buy a Cattle Waterer?
- Tips for Installing Your Cattle Waterer
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|Best Overall: Ritchie Watermatic 100||A heavy-duty and high-efficiency option with an automatic refill valve.||Check Price|
|Runner-up: Ritchie Thrifty King CT1-2000||This heated option is a budget-friendly pick and perfect for cold climates.||Check Price|
|Best for Large Farms: Little Giant Automatic Animal Waterer||Huge capacity and sturdy construction make this a great choice for large farms and large animals.||Check Price|
|Best for Cold Weather: Ritchie Omni Fount 2||Superior insulation and an incredibly sturdy design make this perfect for freezing environments.||Check Price|
|Best Automatic Waterer: Little Giant Trough-O-Matic Stock Water Tank||Perfect for huge troughs and easy on the wallet.||Check Price|
How We Chose The Best Cattle Waterer Options
Cattle Waterers are designed to save you time and streamline the care of your livestock. That means an efficient design is crucial.
You should not have to check water levels, and it should distribute water quickly enough so that your animals can drink their fill without crowding one another at smaller troughs.
Cattle waterers face extreme temperatures, harsh sun, and lots of wear and tear from the animals, so it is important that they are built to last, and withstand lots of use and hard knocks.
You will eventually have to repair your supplies – replacing hoses, connections, and other parts – so it is important that your cattle waterer is user-friendly to avoid wasting your time, energy, and money.
Additionally, even the best livestock waterer will need to be cleaned from time to time to prevent the buildup of debris, fungus, or other things that can cause disease and serious health issues.
Best Cattle Waterers Reviewed
1. Best Overall: Ritchie Watermatic 100
Material: plastic | Animals at one time: 1 | Features: Automatic Refill, Fully Insulated, Low Water Waste, 20 cow herd capacity
What We Liked
- Solid and sturdy plastic construction
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Refills water automatically
- 10-year warranty
- 20-cow herd capacity
- Optional heat package for winter
What We Didn’t Like
- Only available for one animal at a time
This automatic watering system ensures that your livestock is well-hydrated, and the temperature control options keep the water at an optimal temperature to prevent health problems in your livestock.
This Ritchie automatic waterer also provides you with hassle-free maintenance.
It consists of high-quality plastic with a one-piece fountain body that is designed to last a lifetime without cracking or leaking.
And weighing only 55 pounds with a drop-in cover, this cattle waterer is easy to clean and maintain.
Additionally, the trough slopes toward a drain hole, making it easy to skim debris from the top.
With a load capacity of 2.8 gallons, this waterer can provide sufficient water for a cattle farm of 20 head of cows, horses, or sheep.
When the water level gets low, the efficient design causes a valve to flip, triggering the waterer to refill automatically, so that you do not have to spend time and energy checking the water level.
Read More: Best Fence Chargers for Cattle. We tried the top fence chargers for cattle on the market today and here’s what we discovered during testing!See Price on Amazon
2. Runner-Up: Ritchie Thrifty King CT1-2000
Material: Plastic | Animals Capacity: 30 | Features: Heating System, Insulated and covered water to keep water cool and protect against mosquitos
What We Liked
- Thermal equalizer design keeps water cool
- Secure closure
- Easy to lift for maintenance and cleaning
- Energy-saving design
What We Didn’t Like
- Plastic construction is not as sturdy as other options
The Ritchie Thrifty King CT1-2000 is a great heated waterer for your cattle and is designed to be particularly effective in cold environments.
Its Thermal Equalizer design is the key to always keeping water at a moderate temperature and the thick polyethylene plastic body keeps the water cool and prevents leakage.
You can use a bucket heater in the back if necessary, but with several animals using it, there’s no chance of a freeze.
The elliptical closure covering the drinking area keeps the water clean and fresh all year long. This closure acts as freeze protection, keeping the water from freezing in winter.
It also maintains cool water in the summer while preventing any dirt, rainwater, and debris from entering.
Secure as it might seem, this lid can be removed in one minute using your finger. No tools, springs, or clips are required.
Since this waterer consists of plastic, it is more affordable and lightweight than metal ones.
However, it can wear out after a few years so you should check it regularly. If there is any leakage, please replace it with a new one to avoid water waste.
This water fountain is a single-drink waterer capable of a farm of 30 beef and/or dairy cows.
Read our related article, What Do Cows Drink? We explore what cows drink as they grow, what resources should be made available for them, and more in this guide!See Price on Amazon
3. Best for Large Farms: Little Giant Automatic Animal Waterer
Material: Plastic | Animal Capacity: 20 + | Features: Automatic Refill | Gallons: 4 Gallon Capacity | Installation: On-wall or over-fence mounting with brackets (included)
What We Liked
- Farm-grade standard
- Many color choices
- Easy to install with hose and brackets included
- Flexible float system
What We Didn’t Like
- The quality of the default hose option is poor
- Difficult to clean, and cannot drain from the bottom
This Little Giant waterer is a reliable solution for professional farmers as this watering system keeps your livestock hydrated thanks to its big load capacity and clever design.
With a maximum holding of 4 gallons, and a flexible float system, this cattle waterer is suitable for farms of large animals like cows and horses.
And thanks to its huge capacity, your farm animals will always have an appropriate amount of water available.
Of all automatic livestock waterers, this automatic waterer is easy to assemble, even for first-time farmers.
You can install this water bowl on fences or walls with the metal brackets included in the package.
For a continuous flow of water supply, you can connect it to a ½ inch pipe or flex hole. You can also use a 30 -inch standard garden hose with a diameter of ¾ inches included in the package.
However, you may want to replace the default hose with one of your own, as several of our reviewers noted that the included hose quality was flimsy.See Price on Amazon
4. Best for Cold Weather: Ritchie Omni Fount 2
Material: Plastic | Animal Capacity: 40 | Features: Heating System, Fully Insulated Casing, Rounded Edges, Fast Refill Valve
What We Liked
- A safe heating system under the trough
- Smooth and rounded edges are safe for animals
- Suitable for big farms and split pens
- Manufactured in the USA
What We Didn’t Like
- Highest price point
The Omni Fount 2 is similar to the Ritchie Watermatic 100 but is made for large-sized farms, with farms that have anywhere from a single cow up to 40 heads of cattle.
Since it has 2 wide openings, you can put it between 2 pens.
You can also keep water at the perfect drinking temperature all year long thanks to the stainless-steel thermostatically controlled heated plates.
These plates are located under the trough to keep water frost-free even on the harshest winter days.
Another strong plus of this Omni in-ground livestock waterer is that it goes with safety in mind.
First, a high-efficient polyurethane foam separates the heating system and the water, protecting your cattle from electrical shock.
Second, all the shapes are round and smooth, preventing your cattle from injuries when contacting the waterer.
Plus, the Omni water fountain is easy to assemble in just a few minutes as you just need to a attach to the concrete pad using steel anchor bolts.
Further Reading: Top Cattle Banders Reviews. Check out what we found while testing the top cattle banders!See Price on Amazon
5. Best Automatic Waterer: Little Giant Trough-O-Matic Stock Water Tank
Material: Plastic | Animal Capacity: 20 + | Features: Automatic Level Control
What We Liked
- Great for big farms and large livestock
- Compatible with any existing water container
- Anti-siphon float valve and effortless water control
- Extremely affordable
What We Didn’t Like
- Plastic construction is less durable than metal.
- Parts may break easier than the metal alternative
- Most challenging to clean
Automate your water supply with this Little Giant Trough-O-Matic.
This cattle waterer has up to 245 gallons of continuous flow per hour with pressure from 20 to 50 PSI, and can be installed in any existing trough or stock container, making it an ideal choice for big farms.
All your cattle can drink from this huge single-water bowl at a time.
You can also put this automatic livestock waterer in tanks, troughs, barrels, and pans instead of purchasing a single fountain for each pen.
Additionally, the Anti-Siphon Float Valve underneath the machine monitors water levels to provide water for all animals.
Since animals do not have to wait for others, they will always be well-hydrated, maintain production levels, and keep health problems at bay.
Our only complaint with this otherwise-excellent option is that it is our most challenging option to clean – but the price point and efficiency cannot be beaten.See Price on Amazon
|Product||Best Overall||Runner Up||Best for Large Farms||Best for Cold Weather||Best Automatic|
Our clear favorite was the Ritchie Watermatic 100. It is reliable, efficient, and great for cold-weather ranges, making the incredible durability, efficiency, quality, and smart design a lifetime purchase.
What Should You Consider for Your Perfect Cattle Waterer?
There are several types of waterer designs and automatic livestock waterers on the market.
The most common is the electrically-heated waterer, which uses a heater to keep the stored water warm, and at a constant comfortable drinking temperature.
There are also low-energy or energy-free designs, which are usually a large, insulated tank that uses little to no power to store and regulate the temperature of the water.
This design prevents you from relying on thick layers of insulation to prevent the water from freezing.
Lastly, there are alternative-energy waterers, which are very popular with farmsteads as they are designed for use off the grid.
The tanks are wrapped in thick insulation or can be drained into a reservoir below the frost line.
The size of the tank will affect how many cattle or livestock can drink at a time. You want to make sure that the waterer is set up to accommodate the size of your herd.
This is so they get enough water in the heat, and you don’t have to buy more waterers than you cannot afford or maintain.
Avoid Sharp Edges
Animals can hurt themselves on sharp corners, especially if they are all jostling and pushing up against one another in the heat when they are thirsty and clumped around the waterer.
Make sure that if there are sharp corners in the construction, they are not anywhere the animals can come into contact with.
Material & Durability
Depending on the material that your waterer is made out of, its durability is going to be different.
On the market, most waterers are either made from plastic or metal. Plastic waterers are more affordable, but they don’t last long. Metal waterers are the complete opposite.
Metal waterers require a higher upfront cost, but in return, they last a lot longer than cheaper plastic waterers.
Additionally, since metal waterers typically have higher quality, they are also more efficient at delivering water.
While you are shopping for a new cattle waterer, you can either choose between a heated or non-heated variant.
Keep the climate in your area in mind when making a decision. If you live in cold areas, it is best that you purchase a heated automatic one.
They will keep the water at a consistent temperature that’s safe and comfortable for the animals to consume.
On the other hand, non-heated waterers simply use an insulation layer to lock in the water temperature.
This type is more energy-efficient, but may not be the best choice for those who live and work in cold areas.
Though, these are still great for cattle in hot areas as the insulation can keep the water cool in the day’s heat.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Cattle watering devices are designed to save you time, so it is important that you do not subsequently waste all your time cleaning the water tanks.
A good waterer should take only a minute to clean. Any model that takes longer to clean would not be efficient.
Check out this video by Ritchie Waterers showing how to clean your livestock waterer:
Why Buy a Cattle Waterer?
A cattle waterer can ensure that all of your cattle get enough water throughout the day. You would no longer have to walk around and check to see if each animal has enough access to water.
An automatic waterer can handle everything for you, but if you are on the fence, there are more things that it can do for you (and your animals).
Keep Water Clean and Hygienic
When you leave a bowl of water outdoors, it is going to be dirty in no time. If not by dirt, dust, and other environmental contaminants, then by bugs and debris.
A best-rated automatic waterer can protect the water by holding it in an underground reservoir. It will only draw out the water when needed, so cleaner drinking!
Like every living being, your cattle must be hydrated if they are to remain healthy.
Automatic cattle waterers can keep their drinking water cool during the summer months, and warm during the winter months.
This is the greatest advantage of having a cattle waterer. When your animals can have continuous access to clean water at a good temperature, they will naturally drink more.
If your farm is located in cold areas, a cattle waterer is absolutely essential because the water isn’t kept in the bowl and is stored away in the reservoir, meaning it won’t freeze.
Frozen water is a risk not only to your animals but also to your property. It can damage your bowls or pipes.
And, your animals also will not be able to drink it, leading to dehydration and sickness.
Pest Control and Standing Water Reduction
Standing water is a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes. They lay eggs in water, which, in several days, will hatch into larvae. Eventually, these larvae metamorphose into full-grown mosquitoes.
By having a cattle waterer, you will effectively remove standing water from your property. Mosquitoes won’t be able to access the underground reservoir, so there’s no place for them to breed and grow.
Tips for Installing Your Cattle Waterer
For Electric Waterers
A lot of care is given to the installation process of this kind of waterer due to the added risk of electrocution to the animals.
Usually, the waterer itself is mounted on top of a base to keep it from moving around and damaging itself, or the delicate electrical wirings.
One of the most important components of this waterer is electric heat tapes, which are wrapped around rinse pipes to prevent the water from freezing and clogging up the waterline.
Most electrically heated waterers on the market have 600 to 1,000 watts of electric heating elements. A full set will include a power supply to control the water pump and heat tapes to protect the water pipes.
The power supply is the most important (and most expensive) part of the system.
For Low-Energy Waterers
Installing this kind of waterer is a very delicate science as they will only work well with proper installation and management.
One thing to keep your eyes on is the circulation of water through the waterer.
As the animals use it, water is going to circulate through the system.
Continuous circulation will ensure that the water in the tank is always going to be clean, and at a good drinkable temperature.
If the water sits for too long in the tank, it would be at risk of standing and being contaminated with bacteria or pests. Make sure you check the water level once or twice per day.
For Alternate Energy or Farmstead Waterers
With alternate waterers and farmstead waterers, water is pumped up from the reservoir as needed.
There are many ways for the system to know when water is needed, others use motion or pressure sensors to trigger solar-powered refill systems.
To make the most use of your waterer and extend its life, be sure to install it in a wide open space where cattle can easily access it.
It is also helpful to install the water tank in a spot with at least partial shade to reduce evaporation and cut your electricity costs.
It is important to install it on a level surface to allow the water to drain easily and keep the system clean.
You can improve drainage by installing it on top of stones or gravel, which helps to prevent the surrounding area from becoming a mudhole.