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Put A Varmint Pole In Your Stock Tanks

Put a "varmint pole" in your stock tanks to cut down on accidental drownings. Stock tanks typically have straight, smooth sides that animals (or "varmints") can't get a grip on to climb out of the water if they've fallen into the tank. A varmint pole gives them a way to climb out and save their own lives.

Below: A tree limb acting as a varmint pole in a metal stock tank. Ideally, the pole should hang over the edge of the tank by at least an inch or two but in the pasture where this tank is located we have a mare that plays with it if it does.

A varmint pole in a stock tank

A varmint pole is simply any pole an animal can use to crawl out of a stock tank on to save itself from drowning. Wooden poles often work best since wood allows an animal to use its claws to get a good grip on it, while metal, pipe, or PVC poles are often too slippery. A varmint pole doesn't have to be fancy: A small tree limb that happens to be the right size works fine. A clean wooden board works well, too. Whatever you use just make sure it's long enough to reach across most of the water and also stick out at least an inch or two over the side of the tank - just enough so that an animal can jump out onto dry land.

If you need to, you can tie the pole so that it can't be removed from the tank. We say "if you need to" because with most of our tanks we don't need to do this: While the horses and cattle may push the pole around with their noses a little they generally don't bother it much. But we do have one mare (there's one in every crowd) that takes great pleasure in picking the pole up with her teeth and throwing it out. So, in tanks she has access to we tie the varmint poles to something nearby so she can't remove them (in the photo above notice the pole is tied to a pipe above the tank).


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