Fencing is a costly investment, but an important one for farmers with livestock. Planning is key to making sure fencing is installed properly and getting the most out of the investment.
1Map it out
Make a sketch of your farm, taking waterways and the topography of the land into account — the location and arrangement could affect production efficiency. Divide land into areas best suited for permanent pastures or hay, woodlands not to be pasture, woodlands that can be pastured, and land for crops.
2Locate lanes and gates
Ideally, a lane should connect livestock buildings, working facilities and water with every field that may eventually be pastured. A permanent pasture located between other fields can serve as a lane.Locate lanes in the driest areas possible, such as along a terrace or natural ridge,
Locate lanes in the driest areas possible, such as along a terrace or natural ridge, otherwise gullies may form after repeated use. If a well-drained location is impossible, plan on a movable lane. If lanes are used frequently, consider grading the area and graveling.
Locate gates and passageways for livestock and equipment in the corner of each field closest to farm buildings. If fields are located across a roadway, position gates opposite each other so livestock can go directly across.
Permanent fencing should be well constructed from high quality material to last with minimum repairs. Permanent fencing should be used around the perimeter of the farm to establish a fixed property line and prevent livestock from escaping. If entire boundary fencing is not affordable, then install what is necessary to contain livestock.
Also, consider permanent fencing around pastures that will be used year after year, and around cropland. These fences will most likely never be moved, so it makes sense to build a well-constructed, low maintenance fence.
Movable fences are considered temporary fences and are normally used for a short period of time before being moved to a new location. They are easy to build and take down and cost less, but they typically will not last as long as permanent fences.
These fences are suited for controlled and rotational grazing situations and for dividing pastures to suit the needs of the livestock. They can be moved from year to year until you decide the field layout that works best and they can be used temporarily in place of a permanent fence until you can afford permanent fencing.
Sources: University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.
Next week: Farm and Dairy will provide additional tips on choosing the proper fence.
(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)
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