Catching Rain water off a barn roof is a good option for watering livestock and I have impressed many a visitor with this system. However, this only works IF it rains. When it doesn't rain for a few weeks it is necessary to shift to plan B; filling the same barrels with well water via hoses. We are now operating plan C.
When it is, not only dry for a few weeks, but also quite hot, the water in the barrels can get quite warm. Water is a very efficient heat sink which means on cold winter days if the sun continues to shine and the barrels heat the mass of water it won't freeze like the water in the small buckets. In the summer you don't need a heat sink but it is handy to have water in the barrels for ease of frequent watering. Unfortunately, it has been SO warm that the handy water is too warm to drink. If we start getting cool nights again (in the 50's) the water will eventually cool down in the barrel. But for now it is necessary to engage plan C.
Why isn't the barrel in the shade? The sheep scratch themselves on everything, including the stand for the water barrel and have knocked the whole thing over. They also knock the downspout out of the barrel from time to time so a longer flecky pipe allowing the barrel to be inside the barn in the shade just wouldn't work. So yes plan C is necessary.
Plan C is hauling water in buckets from the house or cabin. Necessary in the winter to melt ice in the buckets and necessary in the summer to give the animals cool water to drink. I would love to go to plan D and make it the primary means of watering in the future.
Plan D entails pumping water from the spring uphill to the pasture. It certainly can be done but, because of the height the water would have to be pumped, the pump would have to be pretty powerful and not sure how it would be powered. It should be powered by the sun which we have PLENTY of but consultants I have spoken to thus far say it would "not be economical". When are we going to get there????
We had a pond party at the neighbor's on July 4th and I found out who the "go to" guy for small solar applications is so hopefully I will get some answers from him but for now I guess I will have to stick with Plan C.