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Thursday, 20 September 2018

Winter grazing & electric fencing

When most of us think of electric fencing, we thinking about controlling our grazing during the summer months. Whether it’s to create a small area of our fields that can be grazed right down for our weight prone four-legged friends, or strip grazing to reduce the calorie & sugar intake for those with nutritional conditions, we always seem to think of electric fencing…

But what about the winter months? There’s plenty of uses for electric fencing in the wetter and cooler months of the years.

Firstly, how about your gateways? I think 99% of field gateways become like a suction pool of mud by about mid-winter unless we have the options of hardcore mixes or other similar surface solutions. But electric fencing could provide you with a cost effective solution, that’s quick & easy to erect as well as being fully mobile should you wish to reposition.

Cleverly placed electric fencing can push back your gateway once it started to become torn up. Yes, this is only pushing the problem back you may think, but it’s not so long as you continue to flexible and move the gateway you build throughout the season.

Of course, the alternative to this is to section your field off the reverse way around by starting with a smaller paddock created at the far side. As the grass reduces and the ground becomes more turned over, you bring your electric fence line further out into the field. The end goal is to reach your gateway by the end of the winter, so the worst ground in your field is the furthest away.

Top tips for using electric fencing

It is often seen that electric fence posts are much shorter than the posts found around the boundary of a field ordinarily. So, did you know that electric fence post should be at least 140cm high? That’s only 10cm less than the standard height for fence posts…

Image credit: EquestrianCo.com

If you’re looking at a more temporary solution with electric fencing, like the two suggestions described above, then you need to consider that these are much easier to move around. More permanent electric fencing should consider using wood posts and a much thicker tape – it’s more expensive and requires more upfront investment to help it last, but should be worthwhile in the long run.

There’s three types of electrical fencing material – tape, rope and wire. Each of these can be rated into three categorised, each with a strength in each.

  • Conductivity – wire is the best
  • Breaking strain – rope & wire and both strong, but rope is often more elastic when it does snap & doesn’t coil up
  • Visibility – tape is clearly the winner here. Rope can be visible, but often wire is lost in the landscape behind and is more difficult to make out from a distance
Image credit: EquestrianCo.com

Power. Many a time, we see a horse stroll up to say hello to its neighbour, touch the electric fence with its chest, and nothing really happens. And actually, if you’ve got horses that keep escaping your electrically fence paddocks, you need to consider that the power isn’t enough (not that they are in fact Houdini!) There are two main things to consider – the size of the area and the distance from the main power (if that’s what you’re using). The larger the boundary, the more power you need. The further away from the main supply that the electric fencing is, the more power you will need. AND one other, the more boundaries you have running from the power source you’ll need more power as essentially all this is doing is creating a bigger boundary for the power to run through.

Image credit: EquestrianCo.com

So what are the power sources? Well, there’s solar, mains and battery. Solar clearly has a great battery life, but can only really be used on much smaller areas as well as being costly to install. Mains power can conduct over a much longer distance & clearly won’t run out, but also isn’t very cheap and cost effective to run. So, how does battery fair? Not great. Depending on the power of the battery, it can go the distance, but not as far as mains power and can be fairly cost effective to run, although annoying if it runs out.

So once, you’re kitted out with the right material & power source for what you need, what’s next?

Installation. Put simply, the rockier and less conductive the ground, the closer the electric fence posts will need to be, but becomes much more difficult to ground the ground as well as physically install the posts. It is better to have too many fence posts than not enough, and making sure your posts are spaced according to the wind can also have a great benefit in that you won’t be permanently be re-staking them after each breath of wind.

For even more detail on electric fencing and what to consider, take a look at this great infographic from EquestrianCo.com

Electric Fencing Infographic

Where to purchase your electric fencing from

So, with all that in mind, take a good look through the choice of suppliers. My recommendation would be to shop somewhere you can buy your full supplies for what you need – don’t buy your fencing from one shop, posts from another and battery from somewhere else. Make life a little easier for you and let the supplier put the kits together for you. Equestrianco.com have a broad range of electric fence supplies, including all the extras most of us forget, such as connectors, tensioners and joiners. There’s even pre-made kits depending on your needs! Plus, it’s an easy way to re-order your spares and any replacements that you need through a repeat purchase!

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