Friday, July 22, 2011

Basic Fence Safety (Part 4) Gates.

These gates were preexisting to the farm, and I have to say, they are a pretty inexpensive & ingenious way to do internal gates! It's basically a metal tubular frame, with fence wire wrapped over it. They are very lightweight and easy to move. 

Field fence wrapped gate into the cow field. 
Also between the sacrifice pasture
& the back pasture. 

This one had holes in it so we re-did it with a
smaller sized wire. It's the gate out of the
sacrifice paddock.
I have to say, I consider this gate
VERY safe for all my animals

We also have an electric gate.

Little hard to see, but it's sort of a
long springy coil of wire
I know you can get them from TSC
for about $25
I've never seen this type used with horses before, my mare is so scared of electric she won't come within 10' of this thing when it's stretched across. We are going to replace it very soon with a proper electric "gate".

Hubby just put it up
on hinges! Makes getting
in and out of the driveway
a little easier. 
This is the front gate to the property, your typical live-stock gate. They are pretty popular for horse gates, but make sure the tubes are close together enough that your horse isn't going to stick a leg through. This one is also hollow, so I wouldn't use it with any livestock. If they broke a tube it would be a very sharp thing to impale themselves on.

The most important thing about your gate is to remember to keep it closed!

And now a word from Lenny...

Lenny says: It's hot! Check your chickens for
signs of heat stroke.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Basic Fence Safety (Part 3) Wire types

The gauge or size of wire you're going to want depends a great deal on why type/size of animal you are planning on enclosing as well as the ages. Consider not only the livestock you have now but what you may have in the future. A little extra money now can save you from replacing the fence before it wears out.

Here is what we have.

Field wire

If you never plan on having babies on property (as in, you own all geldings and are not going to change your mind for the life-time of your fence) a field-wire (cow-sized wire) is inexpensive and combined with electric you've got a pretty good fence. This wire size always works great with cows/calves, but kids & lambs can slip through it, especially if even one wire is missing, creating a gap. 

This is not no-climb, but has a very small hole size.
V-Mesh and No-Climb 

Both are very similar, and are my choice for fence wire. As the name suggests they prevent your animals (like goats!) from climbing the fences with small holes. They also prevent stray legs from going through the fence & becoming entangled.

Chicken Wire

Chicken wire is not only good for keeping chicken (and other poultry) contained, it will also keep wild-birds out of places you don't want them to be.

I can tell you from personal experience, small chicks can fit through just about any other size of wire.

Electric Wires

The gray galvanized wire isn't good for horses because they can't see it. If you put flags on it & keep it tight you're minimizing your risks. I'm not really sure on why galvanized would be more okay with other types of livestock.

Wide-tape is better then thin rope for the same reasons, and white is best for visibility as well. We went with 1/2" up to 1 1/2" poly tape (depending on where it was located). 

How High?

First: Check local by-laws! There may be rules about how high your fences need to be, especially if you have stallions

If you're keeping miniature horses, your fences don't need to be very high at all. If you've got quarter horses, appaloosas or similar breeds (not built to jump), you can probably also get away with a 5' fence. Cows, sheep and non-flying birds, are also fine with a lower fence.

If you're going to house 17Hh Hanovarians, or stallions of any breed, you're going to want taller fences. The general rule is 6" above your tallest horse. Really if you're planning on building a big stud farm you're (1) not reading MY blog (2) already know about external fences and lane-ways.

If I were re-building all our external fences, they'd be 6' high because I know my mare can jump 5' from a stand-still. 

Meat Birds are here!!

Awww, Awn't dey de cwutest wittle fwings?
8 weeks to go! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Basic Fence Safety (Part 2) No barbed wire, Please!

You can still see the chunk of some 
animal this wire took off. 
Like most fences, barbed wire is at it's most dangerous for horses when it is loose. As long as it is tight and combined with either 
  • A very large acreage (100 acres) so there is little chance of the horses contacting the fence
  • Electric stand-offs attached to the barbed wire.

It can be made safe. 

We have a small paddock, and even though we were putting up electric, I did not feel safe leaving the barbed wire on.

I don't want to post any pictures because they can be extremely graphic, but if you're curious google "horse barbed wire injury" and I'm sure you'll be taking it off your paddocks by tonight. 

It is a myth that cattle/other animals can not be contained behind electric fencing and require barbed wire. There can be a problem with "long-haired" animals (sheep/other fibre animals) because their wool insulates them from shock, however you can get a fencer strong enough to get through all that hair. 

Just some of the debris we removed from the front paddock

Loose fences of any material can be just as dangerous as barbed wire. It is very important to maintain your fences & keep them nice and tight. This helps with keeping other animals in as well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Basic Fence Safety (Part 1) Updating Existing Fencing

Good electric fence will keep your animals
off your fences, but you want to make sure
the fences themselves are safe, in-case the
power goes out
This is what our front paddock started out looking like. All those little bits of wire are a potential scratch & infection just waiting to happen. A lot of time and some heavy-duty pliers and all those little bits have been bent back against themselves.

Horses can find almost anything to injure themselves on, and fences built for other types of livestock are frequently insufficient, even dangerous, for horses.

T-Post cap with electric poly tape wire.
T-post Caps

T-post caps are SO important for horses as they prevent the horse from braining themselves on the posts. If for any reason my mare spooks/tries to escape/whatever from the field and hits a T-post on the way out, she'll be protected from serious injury by these hard plastic caps. There is not excuse for not using them, they are super inexpensive! The one we bought cost less then $1 per. 

Why I like electric

I know some people are a little scared of it, but I think electric fencing is just about the greatest thing ever invented! Installed properly, you can not only use it to temporarily divide paddocks to match your land-management plan. It also keeps your live-stock from rubbing up against your fences; nothing destroys fences quite as a fast as an itchy cow. 

We don't have perfect or beautiful fences,
but I do consider them very
safe fences.
I once saw a mare plow through a "deer" (or "tri-pod") style fence because the mare and a companion were standing underneath a tree, against the fence, trying to get away from the bugs. The companion got annoyed and kicked out, scaring the mare & STRAIGHT through she went. The fence was old & not maintained properly, but string of electric may have kept both those mares from standing where they were, preventing a life-threatening injury. 

Our electric fencer covers 31 miles, definitely more then you need for less then 5 acres, but it delivers a strong enough shock to get through weeds, long fur & give the coyotes a good jolt to make them think twice about visiting us. It only costs us $160, plus all the electric tape, insulators and T-posts. We will probably update all the property's fences for under $400 (not including the post & wire fence we're building). 

A good electric fence also has the benefit of detering human visitors. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Our Fences

This is not to scale, but I thought I'd take a post to explain our pastures. 

We've got 4.8 acres, and I believe we've got a little under 4 acres in the paddocks (not bothered to go out there and measure yet).

The thin-lined in black fences currently exist & they are wood & field wire with electric poly-tape. I'm hoping to replace the field-wire with no-climb, but that's the last thing we'll do.

Front Paddock

Only thing it's missing is a
good bush-hog!
This is the paddock my horse is in right now. It's post & field wire with T-posts where it's too swampy (there is a stream bed mid-way back) or the terrain changes too quickly for wood post. We've strung electric tape all along the top of the fence. This if the field I would most like the change to no-climb.

This fence is about 5' high, which is okay. In a perfect world, it would 6' because I've got quite the little jumper (there is brush on all exterior fences so I doubt she'll ever try it). There is also a lower line of galvanized wire (pre-existing)  This is not ideal for horses, but, like most fences, it's really only dangerous when it's loose. We are going to replace it with a second line of tape when the rest of the fence is done.

You'll probably notice we did most of the corners of an angle, that was on purpose. The first reason being that it is supposed to be psychologically better for horses not to have corners in their fields, more importantly it prevents one horse from trapping another in the corner to kick/bite at them causing serious damage. The second reason is that it provides a sheltered area (away from any larger animals) for the sheep & goats. So if they are being chased for some reason, they've got a safe place to hide.
This fence needs to be
replaced in the
near future. 

Middle Paddock

Right now the back & middle paddocks are one, but when we replace the back paddock exterior fence we'll use those T-posts to divide these fields.

The middle pasture has 7' T-posts along the back, there is an exterior fence of wood post & field wire but it is so over-grown we weren't going to be able to string the electric along it with out some MAJOR chain-sawing. Instead we've cut off the back 4' of the field with the T-posts.

We lost a lot of space doing that, but we're going to create a run-way area that the goats & sheep can get into so they'll have their own space. Plus they can keep the grass/weeds down in that area.
Middle Pasture

Back Paddock

This paddock has a T-post and wire fence, presumably put up when they severed off 90 acres from the farm about 10 years ago. This is not a very good exterior fence. It's only about 4' tall and it's both wobbly and already damaged from deer. It will keep the cows in, but it will never keep the horse in.

Hopefully this year, but maybe next, we'll be replacing the whole thing with wood post & no-climb fencing, then stringing electric on the inside.

Light-blue area

I'm considering preparing this area as a possible future quarantine site in case we purchase any livestock at auction. It's already quite sheltered from pig-sty here but we'll probably locate the lean-to shelter for this paddocks back in this area. The cedar-rail fence will prevent a lot of contact but when we've got an animal we want to quarantine we'll put a row of step-in electric fence posts to keep all the animals separate. It's also near the barn so convenient for water & feed, plus I can keep a good eye on our new occupants.


Adding a lane-way like this to your layout just makes turn-out/ changing paddocks a little simpler. We'll also use it as a paddock for the smaller animals (goats & sheep or "free-range" birds) in the summer and this area will serve as a sacrifice paddock for the cows in the winter/early-spring.

Yellow area

The Yellow area is an over-hang from the barn that is currently filled with wood, but already has chicken-wire so was obviously used for birds in the past. We're going to set this up (probably next year) so that we can put the meat-birds under there for shelter, then let them out to range in the pastures during the day.

Sac. (Sacrifice) Paddock

Right now the goats & billy live out
in the sacrifice paddock.
They're doing a great job
taking down the weeds!
This is a pre-existing paddock and it's got a lovely cedar rail fence, very safe! We also added two-strands of electric just to keep the animals off it.

The purpose of this paddock is to provide turn-out in the late-fall/winter/early-spring. During these times of year your grass does not grow very quickly, and combined with wet-weather, heavy hooves can destroy the sod. So you sacrifice a small area of your land to provide some exercise space, which probably won't ever grow very much/any grass. The lack of grass is not necessarily a bad thing, lots of people use stone-dust or sand in their sacrifice paddock since they know nothing is going to grow, and this can help with drainage.

In the summer time we'll use this area for our pigs but right now it's holding the sheep & goats while we get the fences all up to par (they're a sneaky bunch!).