Friday, 12 August 2011

The Fence Post

Let's talk about fences. Many people think mob grazing  means lots of time spent putting up and taking down fences, coupled with the near-constant moving of cattle.

Lets dispel a few of those myths, or at least discuss them.

The first comment to make is that if mob grazing is part of a holistic management plan (see earlier posts) then you decide how much time you want to take each day, looking after cattle. If you want to spend ten minutes moving cattle every two or three hours, (as Neil Dennis) does, then you can.

Conversely, Blain Hjertaas, also a Saskatchewan mob grazier, has made the decision to move his cattle only twice a day during the summer and only once every two to three days in the winter. (In preparation for winter, he lays out round bales of hay in rows in a paddock, restricting access using an electric fence).

A holistically-based decision must take into account the impact of that decision on three things: Its financial impact, its environmental impact and its social impact. The number of times you choose to move cattle will alter all three of these things, either for better or for worse. More frequent moves will accelerate the environmental improvements seen and will improve cattle weight gains (and hence enhance the financial results from the operation). However, there will be a negative time impact which must be considered.

Now lets look at the practicalities of moving fences.

Neil Dennis is a man who sees a problem as a challenge. For example, how do you carry all the posts you need for the electric fence for each move? How do you accurately measure the area of grass being given to the cows? How do you wind up the electric fence once the cattle have moved on? How do you cross permanent wires when on your ATV or Kubota? The answers are below.....

Neil Dennis with his modified Kubota. The red rod sticking out in front helps him to cross wires - see the video below. His home-made yellow frame carries his fencing poles and fence reel.

At the moment, Neil is winding up the reel using an electric drill (see another video, below, for an exciting clip of a drill in action!).

To put the fence out, Neil clips one end of the wire to the fence at the far end of the paddock, then drives along, unreeling the wire. After attaching and tightening it, he drives back putting in fence posts as he drives (never getting off the kubota!) The frame is designed so that all the posts are close to hand and slip off easily.

He has a GPS box attached to his kubota too. This tells him how wide his paddocks are, how long they are, what acreage they are, what shape they are etc. It doesn't yet tell him what next week's lottery numbers will be, but knowing Neil, such an invention is in the pipeline!

Neil's wire hopper. The red pole protruding from the front of Neil's Kubota hits the wire first as Neil approaches it, pushing it under the wheels of the machine. He's made sure there is nothing for the wire to snag on underneath the vehicle, and consequently can simply drive over both temporary and permanent fences without getting off his machine.

You can also see the fence posts hung on the yellow frame of the bike, to Neil's left and within easy reach as he drives along.

Neil and his drill. The easy life!

Note the donkey in the background. Neil uses this to 'train' the young cattle when they arrive. They look to the donkey for the lead, and follow him when he moves. All Neil has to do is train the donkey.

1 comment:

  1. Very nicely written. Thanks for taking the time to discuss about this topic.

    Kind Regards,

    Colin Seal
    dog fence collar