Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fencing, 6 years later

My field fence, after 6 years of rough life, has finally gotten to the point where I need to replace it. 
You served well, fence, but you're just not the right kind of fence
 I've tried all sorts of fencing, from the field fence that didn't work very well, to woven wire fences of various sorts, to electric fence and electric net fences, and after all of that I've settled on a favorite kind of fencing.  It's not cheap, but it's easy to repair and stands up well to the sort of wear-and-tear that cattle and pigs cause. 
Same area, same day, just nicer looking. 
The basic fence is a 16' cattle panel supported every 8 feet by an 8' t post driven about 3' into the ground.  I make the t posts level with the top of the panel so that there's less chance of a puncture injury should someone fall onto the fence.  I overlap the panels 8" at either end, so I don't have to be all that precise about pounding in the posts -- sometimes a rock gets in the way -- and I use 12" lengths of 12.5 gauge smooth galvanized wire to tie the panels to the post.  A pair of side cutters and a pair of needle nose pliers are my basic fencing toolkit. 

Notice the electric fence to right, on pig side of fence
 Inside the fence, on the right in this photo, I string a separate electric fence.  I've settled on the polypropylene electric fence rope because it's easier to coil than the tape, and more visible than the wire.  I use step-in posts because it's too hard to keep the polyrope off of the panels when I attach it to the fence tposts.  Having it be a poly line also means that I can easily move the rope to clear the pigs from an area that I need to work in; that's what I did in the picture below -- I moved the polyline back about 25' so that I could replace this section of fence without inquisitive pigs running out onto the road. 

The other type of fence that I've moved to is a standard corral type fence.  6x6 posts with 2x6 rails.  I use this fence in areas that are going to be high traffic, or where I expect to break the fence, like around the cattle feeder.  I consider this sort of fencing safer when you're handing large animals because you can easily climb over it in case of emergency, where the cattle panel fences aren't sturdy enough for that. 
I have moved to the cattle panel or rail fences because they are easily repaired; you pull a damaged panel and put in a new one in a few minutes, or you buy a new $3 2x6 board.  With tensioned fences, like woven wire or field fence, damaging a portion of the fence had no easy way to fix it or re tension the fence afterwards.  Yes, you can do it, it was just a lot of work.  With either of these fencing choices a fix is a 10 minute operation.  Couple of big nails and a new board and you're good to go. 


Unknown said...


Why do you feel the need to run electric inside the fence? Is it to keep the pigs off or are you worried about predators? If it is to keep the pigs off, do you feel the fence wouldn't stand up to them without electric?

Unknown said...

Also, why do you choose cattle panels over hog panels?

Bruce King said...

An adult pig is crazy strong. Like hydraulic-floor-jack strong. They can put their nose into the fence and lift the T posts right out of the ground, even though they're driven 3' down.

The elecric fence keeps them from rooting against the base of the fence and keeps them from raising the fence itself. A single 400lb sow could easily lift 2 panels and 6 Tposts out of the ground with her nose.

Having your electric fence backed with a hard barrier makes both more effective. As you can see in the pictures the pigs respect the step-in posts and polyline; but only after they've been trained to respect it. So the electric fence is there mostly for the benefit of the smaller, inexperienced pigs. The bigger ones already know to avoid it.

I use cattle panels because our feeding method tends to build up material agaist the base of the fence, and I run both pigs and cattle in this paddock, so having cattle panels works for both species. If I were to use 34" hog panels the big steers would just walk right over it.

off grid mama said...

We use 3-4 strand high tensile electric. Works for cows and pigs. Sheep as well but it would have to be 5-6 strand for goats. I don't have goats so i don't worry about it.

You're right about hogs ripping out fences. It's pretty impressive! I have one who doesn't want to stay in anything. So she's being culled. Well, fattened first.

I can see the benefits of your fencing as it's how i make hog training pens, where we train them to electric fence. My pen for piglets is done with hog panel, however, because they'll just slip cattle panel.