Portable, Flexible Fencing for Old Hands and New Farmers
People who have moved to the land looking for a change of lifestyle and environment have brought their own expertise to the country but have also found the need to learn a variety of new skills. Among the most fundamental of these is fencing and while traditional fencing is a craft well worth learning, the new farmer does have the opportunity to evaluate the technological advances that have been made in electric fencing and the new methods of farm management that these allow, particularly in regard to controlled, rationed, cell or strip grazing.
Reliable, easily-handled portable fencing is what every farmer, grazier, vigneron, poultry keeper, orchardist, conservation farmer, beekeeper, drover, zoo director, tree grower, gardener, rare animal fancier, and even dog breeder really needs for the control of their animals.
Technologically advanced electric fencing which fulfils all these requirements is now available to Australian farmers. It is made from inter-twined stainless steel and UV stabilised polyethylene filaments woven into a flexible grid, with semi rigid compressed fibre verticals every 175mm giving a fencing pattern similar to hinged joint or ringlock permanent fencing. The lower horizontal strands have a closer spacing than those at the top.
Connected to a good energiser of the correct type, the entire grid becomes "live" offering a pain-filled barrier that is not dependent on the ground being damp or the need for elaborate earthing arrays that most conventional electric fencing need.
This new type of fencing is ideal for controlled, rationed, cell or strip grazing on permanent or temporary pastures and for the management of all stock, sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, poultry or Alpacas.
The principle of "Fencing the herd, mob or flock, not the paddock" is becoming widely used. No matter which name is applied to it, the benefits for farmers are numerous as these systems allow for heavy stocking rates on restricted areas of pasture over a short period. All plants are eaten rather than just the favoured ones and careful monitoring allows this without overgrazing.
The benefits of frequently moving animals on to fresh, nutritious, palatable pasture are substantial and there is a consequent increase in soil fertility with the small enclosures being heavily dunged and then allowed an appropriate regeneration period. The rapid eating down of pasture also allows sunlight to destroy parasitic larvae, and eggs.
Electric netting has the advantage in that it can be used as an "instant" fence when subdividing for the grazing of forage crops and makes a great portable boundary to force sheep and goats to lawn mow around sheds, machinery and vehicles. As a fence to protect sheep and goats from the predation of foxes, dogs, dingoes and feral pigs electric netting is unsurpassed. It can be used to make a very useful pen for poddy lambs and kids, and when used to make a lambing paddock it not only protects the ewes and lambs from predators but does not allow the ewes to wander far from their lambs which greatly decreases the occurrence of poor mothering. Orchardists and vignerons use it to strip graze the grass sod between tree and vine rows for greatly increased fertility and much better weed control.
The uses for electric netting are numerous. It can be used to protect all types of stored feed from stock and will reliably separate rams, bucks, bulls and boars from ewes, does, cows and sows.
The subdivision and control of pigs on pasture is also possible with this type of fence and beekeepers find that it reliably protects their hives from stock.
Drovers moving stock on stock routes or along the long paddock find electric netting so much easier to erect and take down than the more traditional forms of fencing.
Protecting vegetable and flower gardens, tree plantings and orchards from kangaroos, wallabies, possums, rabbits, hares, goats, cows and sheep can be difficult but with flexible electric netting it's easy.
Dog breeders can use it as an instant pen for puppies and dogs and it is similarly used to restrain and protect geese and ducks that cannot fly.
Zoo keepers use this fencing with great success in even the most difficult situations, and it is particularly effective for strip grazing free range poultry and protecting them from foxes and dogs.
In the past it has been suggested that electric netting would not be effective in Australia because of our dry seasonal conditions but the new developments in one of the brands of multi-system electric netting has overcome this problem with three modes of operation, two of which are not dependant on damp ground and earth return. They work perfectly even in dry times.
The manufactures of this type of fencing have made it easy for the beginner and old hand alike with each fifty metre roll of fence being light and easy to handle and coming complete with high-tensile, spring steel, double-prong, insulated posts incorporated into the fence and a simple clip system, which allows each fifty meters to be connected to the next length both physically and electrically. Corner strainers, repair kit and instructions are all provided. Fifty metres can be erected in 10 minutes and taken down in half that time.
When it comes to economy this fencing has much to recommend it. If you are moving onto a new property with fencing in a poor state you don't have to wait until you have been able to repair or re-erect the fencing before moving on or buying your stock. Quick simple fencing of this type lets you get going right away and you can quickly discover the principle of "fence the mob, herd or flock not the paddock". If you can get away from the traditional thinking about fencing you may well find yourself using the strategies of a leading cattle farmer who says that if any system on his farm is too complex for a 12 year old to run it is no good and needs revising.
Electric fencing has come a long way and warrants investigation. There are immense benefits for the new farmer and old hand if their minds are open to new and interesting ways of making their operations more efficient, effective and economical.