Lee Smith, inventor of The Water Box cattle watering system, is recipient of the award of distinction for innovation from the Alberta Farm Animal Care Council.
The rancher from the Consort, Alta., area devised the trademarked invention as a way to provide water to livestock throughout the winter without the need to constantly chop holes in the ice or make daily visits to remote pastures.
The Water Box is an insert that is installed through the ice surface in a frozen body of water. Once installed, it is self-operated by livestock that push a lever with their noses.
When accepting the award March 9, Smith said he developed and tested his idea over a 10-year period and it came to market in 2020.
“It took some doing,” said Smith. “It does save a lot of work for us.”
The low-maintenance unit is also deemed to be safer for livestock because it allows cattle to drink when thirsty rather than all crowding onto a frozen ice surface when someone comes to chop a hole. That can lead to slipping, ice breakage and drowning.
The box can also be inserted at shallow water depth, of one to two feet where water is moving, so it can be accessed from shore.
It uses geothermal energy from the water source itself to keep access available to livestock.
Smith said feedback from other ranchers about The Water Box has been positive. He advises users to train cows to use the device before cold weather hits but that usually doesn’t take more than two days. It also comes with a mineral feed tub to meet two livestock needs at once.
Smith has prepared video instructions on how best to install and use the watering device.
Information on the product can be found at www.thewaterboxltd.com.