Greenwood: June 16, 2021
Building affordable and resilient fencing systems for livestock is a necessary investment for all producers but it can be challenging to know where to focus your energy and money. At this field day, we heard from three ranchers about different and adaptable fencing systems for multi-livestock operations (including electric and permanent) who have tried and true lessons about where to invest your energy and dollars.
Guest speakers included host Eric Moes, owner of Little Fork Ranch, Matt Kitchen, owner of Grassland Grazers, and Wilf Lindquist, professional fence builder and rancher.
Field day handout: overview of fencing systems and top tips and mistakes, prepared by Eric Moes
Knots: Tim Thompson, excellent teacher, especially for knots
Electric fencing and floating braces: Powerflex, Jim Gerrish, article on floating braces
Fencing equipment – posts: Timeless Fence System (vinyl fence posts)
Fencing equipment – netting: Premier 1 Fencing Supplies (excellent electro-netting)
Matt’s Top Five Mistakes to Avoid in Electric Fencing
Not grounding your electric fence energizer properly. Rule of thumb = 3 ft of ground rod per joule.
Not training the livestock to the electric fence prior to putting them out in a pasture with it.
Underpowered energizer. Always go bigger than you think because you may add wires in the future or have more vegetation load than expected.
Not having a proper fence tester to know what your fence is actually producing and help find any faults.
Over tightening the high tensile wire. This does not allow for any give for wild life traffic and can cause broken wire, posts, and insulators.
Wilf’s Top Seven Mistakes to Avoid in Barbwire Fencing
Braces built too short in length or either too small or short of posts.
Diagonal brace wire installed in wrong direction. Twist sticks too small, crushing or breaking under pressure as fence ages allowing wire to loosen.
Brace rail too high (above top wire and/pr on top of posts instead of between them).
Not pre-tensioning barb wire before stapling and tying off.
Not double wrapping tie off posts.
Too small/short of staples for wire of choice.
Not using sufficient sizes of spikes for holding brace rail in place, allowing t to fall out with very low pressure causing brace failure
Eric’s Top Six Tips for Electric Fencing
In order for electric fencing to work, you have to change your mentality from “check and fix the fence once a year” to “check the fence consistently and never have to fix it”.
When rotating animals using portable electric fence the LFR mandatory kit is a knife, several loops of small-bale twine, and a tester/remote.
When designing an electric fence system consider the “extension cord” method. Get a single strand of hi-tensile as far out on your property as you can and plug your smaller permanent or temporary circuits into it as you build them.
Keep your nets tight. Use temporary posts to peg out corners of netting. Always brace out of the paddock; not inwards. If the guy wire and post peg is on the inside of the paddock, animals are guaranteed to find it and knock it down.
Build your netting paddock with the next two paddocks in the rotation in mind. How are you going to get from here to there? Where are the corners going to be? How will animals flow?
Find a simple knot system that becomes standard on your operation for all reels, poly wire, support posts, etc. If you cannot not do it in the dark in -30 C weather, it is too complicated. Remember: cows do not have hands.