Fenc­ing can ben­e­fit prof­its

Irish Independent - Farming - - Front Page -

“A GOOD fence makes good neigh­bours” is a com­ment I once heard at a farm walk. But there is more to it than that. Good fenc­ing im­proves prof­its by aid­ing the farmer's abil­ity to man­age grass ap­pro­pri­ately.

How of­ten is a field closed off in the au­tumn only to dis­cover that the ewes found a hole in the fence and got back in? Or lambs weaned that man­age to find their way back to the field of ewes that have just been dried off ? Or the ram that broke into the dry hoggets in De­cem­ber?

There are lots of op­tions when it comes to keep­ing sheep in con­fined ar­eas. The most com­monly used is sheep mesh with barbed wire on top. How­ever, elec­tric wire and even elec­tri­fied mesh are also pos­si­bil­i­ties.

In gen­eral, I would favour a mesh plus a strand of elec­tric wire on top as this op­tion al­lows for fur­ther sub­di­vi­sion of the field/pad­dock with tem­po­rary, elec­tri­fied sheep net­ting.

How­ever, where fences are placed along hedges, the use of elec­tric fenc­ing will re­quire a lot of ef­fort in keep­ing the veg­e­ta­tion in the hedge from earth­ing the fence, and in this case a barbed wire op­tion is bet­ter.

On mar­ginal ground where soil con­di­tions are poor, some farm­ers choose to place a strand of barbed wire un­der the sheep mesh, keep­ing the mesh 10cm (four inches) above ground to pre­vent cor­ro­sion.

In this case, a sec­ond strand of barbed wire may be needed 5-7cm above the sheep mesh, par­tic­u­larly if the fields will be grazed by cat­tle.

Elec­tri­fied sheep net­ting, or sig­nif­i­cant lengths of elec­tric wire, will need a strong mains en­er­giser to pro­vide suf­fi­cient power to keep stock away from the fence. Barbed wire should never be elec­tri­fied as any­thing that be­comes en­tan­gled in it will not be able to free it­self and will be elec­tro­cuted.

Even run­ning a strand of barbed wire close to a strand of elec­tric wire is not a good idea as if an an­i­mal be­comes en­tan­gled in the barbed wire it will al­most cer­tainly be elec­tro­cuted when it comes in con­tact with the elec­tri­fied wire. The one big ben­e­fit of us­ing elec­tric fenc­ing is that it has a role to play in keep­ing foxes and stray dogs out. A sin­gle strand of elec­tri­fied wire 30-45cm off the ground has been found to be ef­fec­tive in the Tea­gasc farm at Leenane in keep­ing foxes out of the lamb­ing pad­docks.

Field en­trances should con­sist of hung gates that can be quickly and safely opened. How­ever, gates are not el­i­gi­ble un­der the new TAMS scheme.

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