Texas longhorn cattle for sale in Texas

7 Points to PONDer When Building a Stock Tank

Stock tank

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1. First off, in Texas we call it a TANK. Ask a Texan why and the response will likely be (with a smile, ofcourse)….”because Dad called it a tank!” Jim Buck from JB Farm and Ranch told me that. He together with family and other staff, built and repaired two of our tanks. He was also gratious enough to share some important insight. Jamie Shipman, his daughter, helped formulate his thoughts, as follows:

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Water features add beauty and value to property. As stock tanks, they are fundemental for farmers raising larger herds of livestock, particularly in Texas

2. Drought conditions are synonomous with raising livestock in Texas. Tanks are constructed as a necessity for livestock to survive through dry periods. Tanks are man made and vary in size. They are larger than a pond and smaller than a lake. (Although we have had an abundance of rain recently, we have experienced an awful lot of drought throughout the years that we have raised Longhorns. )

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3. In Texas, all water in a watercourse is owned by the State of Texas. Tanks built on navigable rivers or streams require permits and the use of registered Engineers for construction. Exemptions for permits on smaller non- navigable water ways for livestock purposes do exsist but vary from State to State and within different counties. It is important to be familiar with the regulations in your area before considering the location of your tank, especially if you are considering a location on or near a waterway.



4. The best location for a tank depends, funDAMentally(sorry!), on the lay of the land. An empty stock tank is an eye sore! Filling it naturally and keeping it full is the objective. Similarly, keeping the water clean and free of pollutants is essential. Pumping water from a well is costly when compared with other water resources such as:

  • surface runoff . Understanding drainage of your land and runoff patterns when planning the size of your tank will go a long way in keeping it flowing. Tanks on top of a hill will be hard to fill.
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Desert Sunrise drinking from a puddle of water runoff adjacent to her grazing pasture after a stormy afternoon.
  • groundwater. High water tables that keep soil wet and are surrounded by gentle slopes to capture ground runoff is the type of topography worth evaluation.


This moist area on the side of our Wild Turkey Pasture is always wet and often filled with water, even months after rain.


  • springs and creeks. If you are lucky to have a stream or small creek on your property, diverting a portion of its flow will help in filling a pond. Without forgetting that permits may be required, capturing seepage from a spring is also a benefit to keeping water clear and clean. 
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Bulrushes often grow in or near a spring.


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Our creeks are often dry. When they are flowing their beauty is appreciated that much more.

5. Soil is paramount!! There must be enough clay in the soil’s content for a tank to hold water. A tank with sandy soil will leak. ( This sounds like a no brainer but it is a common mistake.) If your soil does not have a sufficient ratio of clay, you will need to import a ground cover of silt, clay or a good base soil to line your tank.

6. Solid rock makes a great tank bottom. However, if you hit fractured rock, or fracture the rock in construction, your tank will leak.

7. We love trees but not on our tank wall. Their roots will cause soil erosion on the tank wall causing it to leak. Certain trees, like Salt Willows, are even more evasive. They will drink a tank dry ‘at a rate of 100 gallons per 10 inch diameter of tree trunk a day,” according to Jim Buck

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This photo, courtesy of Jamie Shipman, is of Cottonwood roots that have broken away the side walls of her tank. This tree was origonally 3-4 feet away from the water.

Jim Buck suggests that you consult with an experienced operator to asses the topography of your land, to dig test holes, to evaluate soil and ultimately to determine the viability of building your tank.

He concludes: “It’s a huge investment and in Texas or in any other place, it is the same……………..runoff, soil, location!”

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** Special thanks to JIM BUCK and JAMIE SHIPMAN from JB FARM AND RANCH for their invaluable insight and information for this BLOG **

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Each one of our Longhorns brings something special to the herd. As a community they are fascinating. We learn more about them everyday. We never imagined how much joy they would bring into our lives. We also enjoy hearing from you. Let us know what you think of our blog and if you are also lucky enough to have cattle, do they behave similarly/differently or in ways that stand out?

Disclaimer: The material noted above is based on our hands- on experience as farmers, as well as our observations of our own cattle over the years. We have done and continue to do extensive research in order to maintain our herd‘s optimum health and in order to best manage Green Valley Ranch. We respect our animals and would not approach cattle we do not know. All opinions and statements made on our website are meant as guidelines only. We are not trained specialists in animal behavior, nor are we qualified veterinarians or accountants and we urge you to consult a specialist with your concerns.

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