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Month: January 2014

Fencing Dairy Goats for Intensive Rotational Grazing

As mentioned before, I polled more than a few farmers and homesteaders to get their thoughts on the ideal fencing for a combination of goats, sheep, and pigs. Cliff and Jen at Spiral Ridge probably picked the most cost effective method for fencing, but rotating paddocks every few days seemed like too much work with loose wires to be reattached and tightened. Not many people are doing intensive rotational dairy goat grazing, so there’s not really a lot out there on the internet about the subject. Read more

Froggy Pipes Again

For the second time since November, we’ve turned on the tap one morning to find absolutely no water. This time the pipe from the spring to the box was clear, and the faucet at the barn was still flowing, so we knew the blockage was between the box and the house. Our now beloved plumber E came by again and used his trusty air compressor to blow the pipe clear. Read more

Guinea #7 Disappears: Are We Feeding the Culprit?

After a week of each member of the family sequentially suffering through a 24-hour stomach bug, I woke up from my second nap Monday afternoon to check on the animals. It was eerily quiet outside. Not a squawk in the air. If you’ve encountered guinea fowl, you know how rare such an occasion is. I called out my routine, “Guinea! Guinea! Guinea!” which usually starts them squawking and running over to my position. But I heard no answer. The barn was empty and the yard was littered with a few cats and dogs. Read more

What Makes the Best All-Purpose Fencing?

When we moved onto our land in Middle Tennessee, we took over a small farm with existing home, work shed, barn, and fenced-in pasture. In some ways it was a relief to not have to create something out of nothing, but in others it is a pain because what exists is not necessarily ideal for our needs, so we get the joy of tearing down before setting up.

Before our first Spring on the homestead, we need to decide how much fencing to keep and where, as well as whether to replace a few things. I’ve heard all sorts of recommendations from farmers at my local farmer’s market as to which fencing works best for cows, sheep, goats, and pigs. Different animals have different skills and sizes, so the fencing has to handle each unique situation as well as the rest.

I asked a few of my favorite homesteading bloggers their opinions on all-purpose fencing, and this is what they shared with me…

Homesteader #1: Ashley Browning of The Browning Homestead at Red Fox Farm

“Hey Daniel! I recommend a polywire hot fence connected to 120 volts. Although pigs have proven hard for us to keep in (the little boars anyways are quite the determined creatures). Joel Salatin has good luck with hardwire fencing for pigs but they are only hardwired for a few months. Hog fencing has also worked well for us BUT its quite expensive. Hope this helps! And with hot wire you need to train your children as well.”

Homesteader #2: Ashley Housely at Whistle Pig Hollow

“High tensile is the most cost effective per linear foot and it’s durable. 6-8 strands depending on what you’re fencing in or out. Electrified fence is the most effective. Aesthetics = wood board = $$$$$.”

Homesteader #3: Shaye Elliott at The Elliott Homestead

“Four inch round rails, the GIANT nails they sell at Lowe’s (I think they’re six inches and are ribbed so they don’t easily slip out of the wood) and hog wire fencing for the bottom half of the fence. Man. Wish I would have known this six months ago…”

Homesteader #4: Anna Hess at Walden Effect

“We can only make first-hand statements about chickens at this point, but what we’ve chosen for our expansion pasture that may someday house larger animals is cattle panels. Check back next year and maybe I’ll be able to tell you how that worked out. It’s expensive, but durable and easy to install.”

Four completely different answers! It’s not surprising, really. As they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. But some pig breeds are larger than others and test the fencing differently. One homesteader might have had a wonderful experience with electric wire while another swears that pigs simply cannot be kept secure without hog panel.

We’ve ALMOST Made a Decision

To start off our dairy goat raising adventure, we’re leaning toward a combination panel fencing, aka “Combo Panel”. Unlike cattle panel, combination panel has progressively smaller openings toward the bottom so pigs and small animals can’t get through. It’s 50″ tall rather than the typical 36″ height of hog panel. Taller panel is useful for keeping goats and cows inside.

I’ve elected to avoid electric fencing for now because I have no experience with it and do not want to rest the safety of our animals squarely upon a system that could short or be rendered ineffective by improper use. There is plenty of high tensile wire fencing on the property already in the event we wish to use it. For now, I plan to rotate paddocks using movable combination panel fencing within the existing fenced areas of our pasture.

What about you? What type of fencing has worked best for you?

*stock photography purchased through DepositPhotos.com

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