Ohh electric fencing! I’ll be honest, I’ll put it out there right now, upfront, no hidden agendas, I BLUMIN HATE ELECTRIC FENCING!
Electric fencing- I hate it, my husband hates it, does anybody like it? Maybe the dogs because they get to bomb around the field like crazy for a couple of hours. So why do we do it?
Well not coming from a farming background meant I had only come across electric fencing when out on walks. I always presumed it was to keep animals in but I didn’t really understand anything about it.
At our farm we have cows and sheep. We own some ground and where we graze on a regular basis it is fenced appropriately. It’s obvious when you think about it- cows and sheep are different sized animals and so require different fencing to keep them in, but not coming from the industry I don’t think I had even given it a second thought.
We have a lot of rented ground that is used for grazing- normally sheep. In these fields it is often not fenced appropriately for sheep and so we have to put electric fence around the perimeter to ensure the sheep don’t escape. Simple!
To put out the fencing we use a quad bike. With two of us it is a lot easier- one of us drives in front with the quad bike, we throw plastic stakes off the quad bike about every 3 meters. The bike has large wheels on the back with two strips of wire, as you drive the bike this unravels and the second person walks behind pushing the wire into the slots on the stakes and then positioning the stakes in the ground around the edge of the field.
The corners are a bit more complicated as you need to keep the tension so we hammer in a wooden post but in general it should be a pretty smooth process. With electric fence collection it’s the same, just reversed. One walks in front pulling the wire out of the stakes and the stakes out of the ground, whilst the second drives behind on the quad bike wrapping up the loose wire. Every ten stakes or so the person in front walks back to the bike and we pile the stakes on the back.
It all sounds very easy and very simple but in the 8 years I have been fencing with my husband I don’t think we have done a field without some sort of issue. The sheep love to escape! When they do they crash through the wire and it causes the wire to break. To re-connect the wire, you have to wrap the two pieces together, fairly simple. The issue is when winding it in or out, the two pieces wound together always get stuck on the wheels. Effectively it creates a kind of knot which means it doesn’t wrap smoothly. You then loose the tension in the wire and you have to back thread or pull it through to get the tension again. I constantly watch for the knots encase it happens and every time a couple will somehow manage to sneak past me and before you know it we are there unravelling wire to make it taught again!
All that said it is invaluable time I get to spend with my husband, yes, we always have some form of heated discussion over the wire tension and the fact it never goes how you want it to, but looking back now it brings a smile to my face.
I don’t like electric fencing but I can’t knock it. As annoying as it is, it serves a purpose. The sheep will inevitably find that one tiny bit of slack in the wire, or decide the grass looks greener and it’s worth the shock to get that mouthful but ultimately it does keep them safe and on the land, they should be for the majority of the time. One day I would like to think that all of our grazing fields will be fenced appropriately but until then we fence on!
I have a small video on YouTube of us fencing together, it was foggy and raining so it’s not the best quality but fencing takes place in all weathers!