As spring approaches it is a good time for livestock producers to investigate the benefits that might come with a new fence.
“Many producers know what sort of fencing they are looking for, either by experience, what stock they have and what they prefer,” said Darren Wandy, owner and operator of Double D Fencing Company, specialising in custom livestock fencing solutions.
“Cattle folks know that barbed wire or electric or a combo of both is what works for them.
“Small animal producers feel that page wire is fence of choice so their animals have a harder time crawling through or under fence lines. Also small animal producers are looking to deter predators from harassing their stock.”
And of course there are combinations too.
“There are some producers who build fence that will be a ‘Swiss Army Knife-style’ fence that will hold multiple species of animals from year-to- year, or season-to-season,” said Wandy.
“The type of fence one builds really depends on what type of livestock producers have. There are a variety of fence applications out there for all needs.”
But, are there common mistakes producers should avoid?
A couple of things come to mind, said Wandy.
When installing a new fence, a lack of line preparation can be an issue.
“If you are going to spend the money to put up a good fence, do a good job of preparing the land,” he suggested. “Make sure that land is clear of trees and shrubs that will cause the fence to be pulled down, collect snow and fall on the fence.
“A good idea is to leave enough room on each side of the fence to maintain your fence. This will extend the life of your fence.
“If you can level the land to avoid holes and ruts, that will also come in handy from avoiding livestock slipping under the fence.
“It also makes it easier to ride along to check fences.”
A second thing to avoid if possible is going over water.
“If there are other options for watering livestock, avoid water if possible,” said Wandy. “Water, and in winter ice, causes many problems for producers. Unstable soft ground doesn't keep posts in place very well. Wire constantly in water causes the wire to rust.
“And, working in water and mud is slow and costly. Not to mention water is an ideal place for livestock to escape.”
A third pitfall to avoid is underestimating what is needed and the need to purchase quality materials.
Wandy said some of the most common issues include: not having long enough posts, cheap wire options and posts that don't have a thick enough diametre.
“Under estimating quality materials might save producers a little money upfront, but in the long run will cost you money and time fixing,” he added.
“For my customers I recommend nothing shorter than seven-foot long posts. With the land in our area anything shorter is not providing the depth you need to keep a secure fence.
“Another post issue is not having long enough and thick enough diameter of corner brace or brace posts. Good corners or braces are the foundation of a good fence. The most stress on a fence is the corners and braces.
“If you under equip yourself with short and smaller diameter corners your fence will give you issues. If you don't believe me next time you drive down the highway look at the corner or brace posts. If you see leaning posts it is most likely because of the previously mentioned materials issue. The cost of better materials up front will save your major headaches and cost to you later on.”
Most producers also seem to be moving to rotational grazing, and that can impact fencing requirements.
“There are many different practices being tried these days,” said Wandy. “Rotational grazing practices are great for keeping pastures sustainable and producers are using grazing areas to full potential.
“Many of my customers practice rotational grazing. Many set up their quarters or blocks of quarters with paddocks. The quarters are crossed fenced into paddocks. Those paddocks have gates, strategically positioned, that open into the next paddocks to move cows. Those long term grazers spend the extra dollars to put in permanent cross fences.
“There are other options with temporary electric fence where it can be moved to form paddocks. Larger producers are choosing the more fixed paddocks, however that is up to each producer.”
So what are the greatest challenges in fencing for a rotational system?
Again Wandy said a couple things come to mind; the cost of materials for setting up grazing, access to water on each grazing areas, the potential to over graze, and having enough land to be able to practice rotational grazing practices.
In the end there are a number of reasons people should invest in good fence.
1) Security of your livestock. “There is nothing like having secure land that can allow livestock to wander,” said Wandy. “Having them wander into the neighbour crops or on to the roads could be very costly if something were to happen with wandering livestock.”
2) Having good secure fence adds value to your property. “When it comes to selling your property, having well maintained and secure fence lines help market your property for top dollar,” said Wandy.