Avoid fencing shocks ahead of turnout
A well designed and maintained electric fencing system can improve grazing performance so now is a good time to make sure your fences are ready in peak condition.
While the recent inclement weather may put thoughts of turnout back, there will be farmers around the country who have already turned out or are putting plans in place.
So now is a good time to make sure electronic fencing systems are in good condition.
Mark Olive, regional manager with Gallagher UK, says: “There are two issues that need to be considered. The first is are the fences in good condition? For several months they have been exposed to the ravages of the winter weather and there is no guarantee they are in ideal working condition.
“All fences should be walked and repairs made as required. Energisers will have been sitting where they were left at the end of last season and will need checking.”
The other issue is whether the electric fencing infrastructure will give optimum flexibility to maximise forage utilisation. He says a well-designed system consists of a network of permanent fencing providing the skeleton from which temporary fences can be quickly and easily added to allow field and paddock sizes to be adjusted to suit grass growth and management practices.
“Take the time to review how effectively grazing was managed last year. Consider what improvements can be made to increase the efficiency of overall grazing management and boost the contribution from grazed grass.”
Offset insulators keep the current away from posts
Top tips to check your fencing
Dorset-based fencing contractor Perter Sharman, of Sharman Fencing, says a number of checks need to be made to ensure an effective system.
- Is the energiser working? – “Insufficient voltage will lead to problems with animals breaking out,” he says. “You need to ensure the energiser can supply the target voltage across the entire fence.”
- Check the voltage – “Turn the fence on and take voltage readings near the energiser and again at the end of the fence. If the voltage fall is more than 1.5kV, then there is an issue with earthing out.”
- Is the fencing earthing out? – “Walk the length of fencing and look out for anything in contact with the wire. Replace any temporary fixes from last year which could cause the fence to earth out.”
- Check all insulators – Mr Sharman says it is important to attach wire strands with an offset insulator to keep the current away from the posts. “To increase fence life, run the wire round the outside of corner posts and use appropriate connectors to reduce the risk of insulators being pulled out.”
- Are fences far enough away from hedges? – “Keep fences one metre away from hedges to reduce the risk of shorting and allow a hedge cutter to be used over the fence. You are not going to gain any significant grazing by putting fences closer to the hedge. Trim hedges back to give clearance.”
- Use the fence to keep stock out – Mr Sharman says brooks and wet areas must be fenced off to protect stock from the risk of fluke.
- Use the most appropriate fencing material – “Don’t economise on wire quality. In most situations I would advise a 2.5mm high tensile alumiumised wire, as it is more durable with greater conductivity. In most cases single strand will be fine, but if a fence is used to separate stock, for example cows and your heifers, then use a three strand fence. In areas of high traffic and animal movements, I would consider using a white coated wire which is more visible.”
- Do not over-strain the wire – Mr Sharman says it is a fallacy to think it is the tension in the fence that provides the barrier and explains applying too much tension risks breakages. “It is the current, not the physical wire which is the barrier and animals learn to respect the current and stay away from the fence. Use springs and tensioners to maintain sufficient tension with tensioners on every straining post.”
- Think about gateways – “In many systems the entire fence will be switched off then the gate is opened. Bury the main cable in an underground duct to keep the fence live when gates are opened. Consider drive through gates in areas with regular tractor movements.”