After only a few short months out on the market, Consort area rancher Lee Smith’s The Water Box™ invention has received its first award – the Award of Distinction for Innovation from the Alberta Farm Animal Care Council.
He received the award March 9, feeling humbled.
“I felt pretty good there. I didn’t know it was that good of a design,” he laughed.
“Well, I knew it was good for myself and I had a really good response from everybody else so to be recognized for it was really good. It’s for animal care. It makes me look after my cattle a lot better too.”
Much like an episode of Dragon’s Den, Smith’s ‘There must be a better way’ moment came after noticing the tedious and strenuous work of chopping water holes in the winter.
He found that only a certain demographic could keep up with this routine.
His parents were approaching their 80s and were still ranching but couldn’t continue chopping.
“Mostly because it was designed and the purpose of it was to help people and cattle out to have water available and take the load off the everyday strain whether you are old or young. That’s how I came up with it anyways,” he said.
“Not everybody wants their cows in the yard early in the fall either so it’s about using your grass up and your water and your fields and still providing water for them where you don’t have to haul it or go look after it or go build something else with electricity. This is cow powered.”
The Water Box™, a patent-pending product, has helped solve this problem and has sold out four times in its first introduction to the marketplace.
The box is portable and can be pushed into shallow moving water which can be accessed from shore.
Since December, Smith has sold approximately 100 to date all over Canada and is now back into production mode to get more out of the door.
From 10 years of development and 20+ different prototypes came this rectangular watering system for cattle specifically.
The Water Box™ is not only for the winter months but also the rest of the year too, as a square insert allows for it to become a mineral dispenser.
Smith kept video journals of his invention over the years, showcasing different styles and sizes – what worked, what didn’t – up until the final product on the market today.
It does not require any form of electricity as its insulated interior and lid seal allows for the water to be accessible all day long.
“For myself, I won’t go check mine for five-six days and I go over and “ah shoot” I should’ve left it longer because it is so good and I want them to operate it and maintain it and that is what it’s supposed to be.”
This device allows for quick checks rather than spending hours chopping water holes.
Smith added that he once timed himself and when all was said and done for checking and breaking up a small layer of ice and cleaning a little around the edges, it was under a minute long.
As for training, it does take some dedication to get the cattle to understand what The Water Box™ is and how it serves them.
“We had a lot of really good customers who bought in the harshest time of the winter and it was the toughest time to train something but they are also going to benefit from it as they have already introduced it to their cows, then next year should be way easier.
“You just have to do the training and stick with it.”
When asked if the training process is doable, Smith replied, “It’s repetitious but it is easy. It’s just like changing the mind of the cow. Instead of licking snow, they go to this for water. They just got to learn to operate that lid and she’s away.”