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Is Rainwater Safe for Horses to Drink?

is rainwater safe for horses to drink

Collecting water in a rain barrel is a great way to save money on your water bill and to help mother nature by being a little extra environmentally friendly. The water can be used to water your yard, clean the car, and much more, and the practice has gained popularity in recent years.

Perhaps you are wondering if rainwater collected in a rain barrel is also safe for animals to drink? Animals, and especially farm animals like horses, drink a lot of water, and it would be practical to use free rainwater to fill up their daily water supply! Is rainwater safe for horses to drink? Yes. Horses can safely drink rainwater, and the best way to do it is with a food grade rain barrel with a filter.

Safety is important when it comes to both humans and animals, so let’s find out whether it is safe for horses to drink rainwater!

Can a Horse Drink Rain Water?

The first thing we have to disclose is that animals in the wild drink rainwater all the time, as it can sometimes be the only water they can get access to, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe or recommendable. Horses can drink rainwater, but it is debatable whether they should.

Rainwater collected in a rain barrel is not considered fit for human consumption, as you often collect the rainwater that comes off a roof. While the water that falls from the sky might be clean – it stops being clean the moment it hits that rooftop. 

If rain barrel water is deemed unfit for human consumption, then perhaps we shouldn’t give it to our horses either. The roof itself may release certain particles or chemicals as the water makes its way down, or dirt and particles from the atmosphere could land on the roof and essentially make the collected rainwater unfit for a horse.

An Alternative

If you want to save water by letting your horses drink rainwater, then you should preferably set up a bucket outside and collect rain that is coming down directly from the sky. It will take longer than collecting water in a rain barrel, as these usually collect the water that streams down from the roof, but it will be cleaner and less likely to be contaminated.

You can always leave a bucket out when it rains, and especially if it tends to rain heavily where you live, but you might want to refrain from using water from a rain barrel. That said, horses are generally quite resistant and it can be a solution in the case of an emergency or if your water supply gets unexpectedly cut off.

Making Rainwater Drinkable for Horses

The issue with rainwater collected in a rain barrel isn’t the rainwater itself, but everything it could have come in contact with on its way down. However, one thing that speaks in favor of using rainwater is that it is not fluoridated the way tap water can be in, for example, the United States.

If you are set on using rainwater for your horses anyway, there are a few things you can do to improve the water quality and to make it safer for animals to consume. 

Choosing a Food Grade Barrel

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The absolute first thing you need to do if wanting to use rainwater for your horses is to get a food-grade barrel. A food-grade barrel means that the barrel was made with food-grade materials – materials that are nontoxic and deemed safe for humans to consume food and liquids from.

It is always smart to aim for anything that is considered safe for humans, as it means it will also be safe for an animal, such as a horse. Another thing to look for is a barrel that is marked as BPA-free.

The Outdoors
The Outdoors

We recommend using a rain barrel that is leak-proof and has a high capacity if you utilize rainwater for many daily chores. This collapsible rain barrel by Vingli is high-quality, portable, and reusable. It comes in 50, 66, and 100 gallon tanks.

Adding a Mesh Filter

The rainwater barrel should have a lid and a mesh filter. The mesh filter helps capture particles, dirt, and debris as it comes down, to keep the water as clean as possible inside the barrel. Make sure you check the mesh filter regularly for any holes or wear and tear, and clean and replace as needed.

Monitoring How Rainwater Is Collected

Last but not least – keep an eye on the surface the rain has to pass to get to the barrel. If it is a roof – do your best to keep the roof clean, or otherwise consider setting up your own structure to lead rainwater into the barrel. You may have to get a little creative, but your horses (and your wallet) will thank you.

Better Ways to Use Rain Water

Giving animals rainwater to drink isn’t the only way to make use of the water collected in your barrels, and you can also opt for using it to keep your crop watered, to water a lawn, to keep an outdoor area for the horses watered and green and much more!

No matter how you look at it, you can’t go wrong with collecting rainwater in a rain barrel, as water can be used for more than just human and animal consumption. You can also use it to keep the stable clean without wasting water, and the possibilities are next to endless.

Final Thoughts

Giving rainwater to horses is recommended by some, and not by others. The main issue with rainwater in a water barrel is that it could have been contaminated on the way down, and even if the rainwater itself is safe – it could have come in contact with dirt and chemicals on its way to the barrel.

With this in mind, giving horses rainwater to drink isn’t necessarily recommended, but the good news is that it can be done if you are willing to take a few extra precautions when collecting your rainwater.

Using rainwater on a farm or in a stable is a great way to save money on your water bill, and it prevents unnecessary water waste and protects the environment. In the end, it is up to you whether you feel comfortable giving your horses rainwater, but if not, there are plenty of other ways to make use of rainwater on a farm!

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