Today’s Containment Strategies

Published on Thu, 04/28/2022 - 3:09pm

Today’s Containment Strategies.

 By Maura Keller.

Proper fencing strategies and the use of today’s innovative fencing products can be a game changer for farms and ranches of all sizes. Understanding the fencing options available, evaluating what would work best for the layout of a ranch and the size of a particular herd, as well as the daily activities of a ranching operation are paramount in determining the best fencing solution.

Brad Moore, COO and general manager, Timeless Fence System, says that while the fencing industry has not seen many innovative products developed for the average farmer or rancher, he is finding more farmers and ranchers are moving away from barbed wire and woven wire fences, which are costly, labor intensive to install and require a good deal of maintenance.  
“Instead, these folks are using more electric fence materials which can save them both time and money,” Moore says. “You can contain practically any livestock with a good hot energizer and with a fence system that won’t lead to electrical shorts. Low impedance energizers have replaced the ‘weed burners’ from years ago. These are much safer and provide effective shocking power to keep your animals where they need to be and unwanted animals on the outside of your fence.”

The Timeless Fence System is made from recycled rigid PVC, a material provides both strength and flexibility while also providing excellent UV protection. The system is also self-insulating so it does not require any insulators when using electric fence wire. This prevents electrical shorts due to faulty or subpar material failures.

Gallagher Animal Management has long been a ‘go to’ provider for fencing projects. The company carries a full line of fencing products, from the energizers to power the fence system to all the hardware needed to set up a system.

“Our energizer line consists of solar, battery and plug-in options,” says Michele Marcoux, territory manager at Gallagher Animal Management. “We have created a smaller solar energizer with a lithium battery, decreasing the need for new batteries. We also created a self-contained four joule energizer containing two smaller 12 volt batteries and solar panel, making it more portable and user friendly. Our line not only consists of energizers, but the wire, permanent and temporary options, heavy duty and standard insulator, and all the hardware to get the job done.”

Marcoux says the electric fencing industry is always evolving, although the foundation of fencing stays the same, namely that “time is money.” “Gallagher is constantly creating products and solutions to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers to give them more time to do the things that matter,” Marcoux says. “We have created a large self-contained solar energizer for the rancher who needs big power in the middle of nowhere. This larger solar option allows them to take the entire unit and move it without having to worry about additional parts and pieces, big heavy batteries and large solar panel to reconnect. We recreated the good old pig tail post (that’s been around forever) to a ring top post with a durable long-lasting head that does not wear through and short the fence and does not get tangled up as easily.”

Gallagher also created a smart energizer and fence monitoring system that can connect to an app to keep the farmer or rancher informed about what is happening on the fence line and alert them if there are any problems with voltage on the fence.

Effective Fencing Strategies  
When it comes to fencing, there are a variety of strategies that ranchers and farmers should consider. First of all, always think of your future plans. What is the largest animal you could see yourself having? Do you have plans to buy the land next door down the road?  

“Knowing the answers to these questions and others then preparing for them in your fence plans can keep you from having to redo something you thought you completed because your plans changed,” Moore says. “Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden said, ‘If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? Spend the extra time planning up front and you will only have to do the job once.’”

Cost is also a factor for many. Choosing a good system from the start will save money over time. Low-quality materials will end up costing a lot more in the long run as it takes the same amount of time to build.

As Bob Schermer of Powerflex Fence explains, there also has been a lot of interest in rotational grazing and regenerative agriculture in the last several years.  

“The products for grazing systems have not changed a lot but the demand and interest has increased over the last few years. We are constantly working with our customers new and old to develop a system that works for their needs,” Schermer says. “We have a lot of different options for grazing but mainly focus on electric fencing and water sources.”

Schermer says T-post and rebar with yellow insulators is a recipe for disaster when it comes to electric fencing. The yellow insulators have no UV stabilization so when the sun dries them out, a miniscule crack can short out the fence causing a lot of headaches trying to find the short.  

“Fortunately, the better choice of black or dark green insulators which have carbon in them as a UV stabilizer , and also self-insulated line post can help eliminate timely repairs to their fence,” Schermer says.

Streamlined Installation Know-How
According to Jenia Reece Staska, marketing communications manager at Bekaert, a fencing supplier in the agriculture industry, over the past several years Bekaert has strived to partner with other well-known, high-quality brands to help ease and speed up the fencing installation process.

“Examples of these partnerships allow us to offer products like the Delfast Power Stapler, the bolt together Pipe Brace Kits from Bullet Fence, high-speed T-post and Pipe post clips and a full offering of Gripple products,” Reese Staska says. “Paired with high-quality Bekaert fence wire, we’re truly giving the modern farmer or rancher a faster fencing solution they can count on for your years to come.”  

Bekaert prioritizes educating their community. As Reece Staska explains, high tensile products have been on the market for several decades. However, education on the benefits and proper installation techniques of high tensile products have been a challenge.

“The techniques to installing high tensile products versus traditional low carbon fencing is very different and proper education is vital or you’ll run into issues down the road,” Reece Staska says. “Bekaert offers several resources to assure installation is done properly.”

With the increased demand for fencing products over the past few years, there has been a shortage of wood fence posts. Because of this, Bekaert has seen a conversion towards steel pipe being used for bracing and posts.

“Many areas of the country are in some form of drought, which means fire bans. To help with this, Bekaert partnered with Bullet Fence, LLC. Our Pipe Brace Kits are a great solution when building fence braces with pipe in areas where burn bans are in place, or where welding is not an option,” Reece Staska says.

She goes on to recommend that producers do research about the fencing options available, especially since it is so much easier to conduct these days. “Don’t just ‘use what your dad or grandpa used.’ Now there are better, more technology advanced products on the market,” Reece Staska says.

Bekaert offers a product comparison tool and a fence calculator, which allows producers to choose fencing products for application specific requirements, map your land utilizing Google Maps, gives recommendations on post spacing and provides a shopping list including material and quantity of materials that you can then take to your local farm store.   

When selecting a proper fence, Marcoux adds that it’s important to know the lifespan of the fence and choose the correct wire for the project.

“If the farmer or rancher is planning for a long-term or permanent fence, it is best to look at hi tensile, or galvanized options,” Marcoux says. “If the system is going to be temporary, it is easier to utilize poly products, that are easily mobile and can roll up quickly. With temporary fencing, it is also important to know that the type of poly product that is used. Look at the type of wire in the product, which will typically be stainless steel and or a tin coated copper, and how many strands of wire are in it. The more wires, and the more tin coated copper wires, the more conductive your line is and the further you can push that voltage.”

Schermer advises that ranchers and farmers also have a plan. Are you grazing sheep, goats, pigs or cattle? How much livestock are you planning on grazing? What are your future plans? Why do you want to subdivide pastures? Are you using a Management Intensive Grazing (MIG), or rotational-style grazing system, teaching livestock better eating habits through controlled portioning?
“The number one component to any electric fence is the energizer, which can be confusing with so many choices,” Schermer says. “It is important to have enough power to energize your current fencing needs and future fencing needs. The number one problem most people make is under energizing their fence.  

Innovations To Watch For
Some electric fence chargers are being designed today with remote fence monitoring technology embedded in the units. Some units have a handheld remote control that allows the user to turn on/off the unit from anywhere around the fence simply by touching a probe to one of the hotwires.  

“This can be a wonderful tool if you have a larger property and don’t want to walk or drive back to the energizer to turn it off,” Moore says. Some energizers can even send you text messages when it detects a fault in your electric fence setup so you can spring into action and correct the fault quickly before your animals find it. You can also use your smart phone as a remote control allowing you to turn the energizer on or off or simply check the voltage output on your fence.

Indeed, as Marcoux points out, technology is constantly evolving in the agricultural world to make things easier and more efficient for the ranchers and farmers. “The industry is moving towards app-based and cloud-based products. We, as an industry, are leaning in to more computer based technologies and information at our fingertips. The most notable of these is the fenceless systems that utilize collars and GPS to create virtual fences for grazing.”

Another interesting product innovation is the automatic gate opener.” This works off of a simple timer and spring gates which are set to open at a scheduled time, allowing your animals to move to a new paddock without you having to be on site,” Moore says. “These units allow you to setup multiple paddocks ahead and can save you some valuable travel time.”

According to Hilary Kleese, content brand manager at Gemplers Farm & Home Supply, some key fencing innovations that cattlemen should know about include the Field Tec Shock-Absorbing Post Driver, which works on posts under 2” diameter.

‘It’s easy to use with a tapered end that quickly slides over posts,” Kleese says. “The handles adjust for easy access to tight corners. It’s designed to absorb shock, with shock absorbers that channel impact forces away from the operator. And it features a built-in leveling system that helps drive posts straight every time.”

In addition, Gemplers offers the CAT Posthole Digger, which boasts a patented handle that’s rated the strongest in its class following U.S. government specifications. As Kleese explains, this heavy-duty posthole digger makes it easy to prep holes for installing fences.

“The virtually indestructible handle has an anti-slip, multi-position grip for a firm, comfortable hold while working,” Kleese says. “The fact that it’s made from military-grade steel means it’s built for even the toughest abuse on any jobsite.”

Kleese also points to various gas-powered tools to help with the fencing process. These include the Rhino GPD-30 Ranch Pro Gas-Powered Post Driver, which saves your back while driving posts, rods and stakes in seconds. It drives a variety of posts, rods and stakes in seconds, and works with T-posts, form pins and ground rod posts up to 1-5/8”-dia. In addition, Minuteman FH (Fixed Handle) Post Driver is one-person, gas-powered driver guaranteed to save time and energy driving fence posts up to 2 inches in diameter with no digging required. The Minuteman XL8 Rotatable Handle Post Driver is a gas-powered post driver that features a rotatable handle.

“It makes safe, one-person driving possible and is designed for driving posts up to eight feet tall with no digging required,” Kleese says. “Even without a ladder, the XL8 can drive posts up to 8 feet tall with your feet on the ground and no digging, thanks to its unique rotating handle design.”

And the Badger Gas-Powered Earth Auger drills holes quickly and easily thanks to its high-torque transmission with a heavy-duty clutch and optimum gear ratio for drilling holes quickly and easily.

“The old mentality on fencing products that have been used for years, no longer apply,” Reece Staska says. “We encourage farmers and ranchers to research and educate themselves to the newer technology. Remember, the correct tools to do any job makes things so much easier. Fencing is no different.”