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Water for stock - setting up a dam pump

When we buy our first mob of steers we want to keep them in the stock yards for a week or so, so we needed to set up water troughs in the stock yard.  There is a dam just near the stock yards, so we decided to install two 1000 L troughs and fill them from the dam using our dam pump.  In Australia, this type of pump is known as a "firefighter" pump, I don't know if that term is used in other countries as well.  It can be used for rural firefighting as you can just dump it into any dam, tank or swimming pool and suck out the water at a high flow rate.  It has a petrol engine, so it can be used anywhere, even if there's no electricity connected.  We usually leave it sitting next to the dam at "eight acres" so that we can pump water up to various troughs and old bathtubs that we use for stock water, but as we didn't want to buy a second pump, we put it on the ute and took it to the new property to fill the troughs.  It will live on the back of the ute while we need it at both properties.

The dam pump

The dam is pretty good for swimming too, Chez loves a swim
(more of a wade, I call her my hippo), but Chime is a bit more hesitant.
To set up the pump we installed a foot valve on the suction pipe (this keeps the water in the suction line and prevents large debris being sucked up with the water), with a rock to keep it under the water and a float to keep it from sitting on the bottom and sucking up mud, all tied on with baling twine.  Once we had the suction end set up, we just attached the discharge fittings and started the pump.  After we'd filled the troughs, we disconnected the pump and left the two sections of polypipe ready for the next time we need to fill the troughs and took the pump back to the other property.

Farmer Pete demonstrates the float/sinker idea, the float string
turned out to be ambitious and was shortened

We couldn't throw it far enough from the shore, so I 'volunteered'
to wade in, I kept my boots on! (Cheryl did come in for moral support)

The suction end all set up

filling the troughs in the yards
Have you set up stock water?  What method do you use?


  1. That looks like a great idea and is so portable plus it may reduce your fire insurance by just having it. You are lucky that he didn't rig up one that involves you turning the pump with a bicycle like I have been thinking about making.

  2. I'm on Team Chime...there's no way I'd be swimming in an Australian dam! I've seen too many nature documentaries I think ;)

    And that's a clever way to keep your hose from sucking the mud up. I think I need to figure out a way to use your idea for my wine siphon.

  3. Am Loving your farm posts. We have a fire fighter pump too we use it to pump from our bore to a tank that feeds our washing machine and toilet

  4. Enjoy reading about your adventures every time... interesting name for a pump...

  5. Hello Liz. I've been reading your blog for a while (although I haven't commented before!) and have been really enjoying seeing what you are doing at the next scale up from me in terms of growing your own food. I was recently given an award and I'd like to pass it on to you. You can find the details here: Cheers!

  6. Gill, I'd like to see what you come up with, a bicycle pump could be useful!

    Laura, I wasn't too keen, but I know there aren't any crocs, just little yabbies (crayfish), that's why I kept my boots on :)

    Fi, good to know we aren't the only ones with a firefighter pump. Lrong, I think its because we have so many bush fires here, it pays to be prepared.

    Thanks CityGardenCountryGarden, will have to get around to replying to your nomination post some day.... I like your blog too.

  7. Just saw this post and would like to offer my experience for readers.

    We pump from a creek with a Davey firefighter twin impellar to a 21000 litre tank . The head is about 55 metres and water is pumped at abt 3000 litres / hour with a Honda 200GX motor. Inlet and outlet is 2" poly to reduce resistance. Biggest issue is the footvalve - getitng and keeping it into a more or less vertical position and vibration from the creek flow. Both factors tend to cause a "leaky" valve necesating a frequent re-prime for refills. Also recommend a one way valve on the outlet line to prevent leaks from the line going up the hill once the tank is filled and pump turned off. Also have a bleeder valve on outlet side of the pump to let air out when priming rather than trying to pump it all the way up the hill.

    Tank feeds troughs for 6 paddocks using 2 x 2" poly lines from the tank to maximise gravity pressure. Then reduced sizes to 1".

    The hub.
    We have a hub with paddocks and lanes emanating from it. Have a convenient tap outlet in the hub for hosedowns , cleanups etc. Use steel spikes in the post to protect the tap from cattle damage. I'd like to build a small set of yards in the hub for drafting and drenching. But this is yet to come. At the moment the cattle have to be pushed about a km to the other yards to do any work on them. The laneway is very convenient for this. Hint for newbies: don't rush this, let the cattle take their their time.


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