Time to check your fence line

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fence

By Nanette Neal

The grass is not always greener on the other side.

I was out one day, not long ago, helping put a couple calves back in that had found grass greener on the other side. As I walked the fence, several of the post had heaved out of the ground or trees had fallen on them and stretched the line. Today, as I look out my window to write this article, I notice the yard, hay ground and pasture; I see all of them getting greener, coming to life each day.

It won’t be long before the trees begin to bloom, but before everything else blooms, those nuisance weeds start popping up. Why do they always show up first?

Get those weeds

Remove those weeds from the fence line. Honeysuckle was fun as a kid walking up the driveway from the bus, eating the nectar, not knowing that woody plant was destroying the fence dad built. Now that I look back, and have my own farm, keeping those nuisance weeds out of the fence line is valuable to the structure of the fence and keeping the livestock safe.

Other weeds that creep up around fence lines can cause health and safety problems in livestock. Some examples of such problem weeds include: milkweeds, poison hemlock, horsetail, common pokeweed and more. Keeping weed pressure under control will not only help your fence integrity, but also the health of your livestock.

Controlling by mechanical or chemical practices are both acceptable, sometimes both are needed to work together for best coverage.

Check for down trees

Most of us have had the unfortunate occurrence of insect damage to our woods across the state. Winter and spring weather bring storms that knock down trees and sometimes happen to hit our fence.

Before opening up a pasture, it is a good idea to walk the fence line to make sure nothing has fallen on it. But most importantly, check to make sure that no tree that could harm the health of your livestock has fallen into the pasture.

Wilting cherry leaves, all parts of the Ohio buckeye and black locust are toxic to livestock. As a teenager, you do what you are asked from your parents (most of the time).

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that ornamental Japanese yew produces taxine, a chemical that is toxic to livestock. I pitched the branches over the fence for dad to burn, but that did not happen quick enough. I think you might know the end result.

Keep the water flowing

Another way to ensure the health of your livestock and aid environment and erosion control is to fence out creeks and streams. Livestock tend to breakdown the banks allowing for more readily movable soil. Soil breaks away from stream banks and moves away from your property.

Keeping livestock out of flowing water helps eliminate waterborne bacteria ailments in livestock and risk of injury to the animal, in conjunction with improved herd health. Vegetation on the stream bank will act as a filtration system to promote sediment, nutrient and pesticide runoff control before entering the water, therefore creating a cleaner water system for wildlife and aquatic life to thrive.

Now is a good time to walk that fence line before leaves bloom and heavy limbs get in the way. Be sure to walk interior and exterior lines, making sure everything is still in place, fences are tight, electric lines are insulated, solar panels are functioning properly and livestock are fenced out of flowing water.

(Nanette “Gigi” Neal is an Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator at OSU Extension, Clermont County. Send questions or comments in c/o Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460)

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