In a nutshell...
- Fencing to subdivide a farm is a basic requirement to keep control of pasture growth.
- This in turn controls stock performance.
- Fencing is a major capital cost on the farm so must be planned and done well.
- A quality well-planned programme will have minimal ongoing maintenance costs.
- Wrong decisions on fence type and placement can lead to serious animal, pasture, and soil problems.
How can you tell if you have a problem?
- Stock out of control grazing and wandering all over the farm and on the roadways.
- Poor unproductive pastures because of poor grazing control.
- Poor pasture utilisation - always plenty of dead stalks visible.
- Stock poorly fed and in poor condition.
- Poor reproductive performance (lambing and calving percentages).
- Poor growth rates - few stocks fattened and most sold as poor stores.
- Permanent weed infestation.
How can you tell if you're doing well?
- Productive pastures.
- Good balance of grass and clover (70:30)
- An effective controlled grazing programme in operation all year round.
- No clumps of dead seed heads left on pastures.
- Stock that is fully fed and in good condition all year round.
- Well-grown and healthy young stock.
- Good stock flow around the farm via races and well-placed gates.
- Fences that need little maintenance.
- Stock crossings over waterways that cause no damage.
- Waterways are free from sediment.
- Stream water is safe to drink.
What can you do to improve things?
- Work out a complete property subdivision plan - with a consultant if necessary.
- Fence to the natural contour.
- The aims are to achieve good pasture utilisation for livestock production, along with the care of the soil and water on the farm.
- Plan the fencing programme to ensure good stock flow along their natural paths.
- Place gateways to avoid smothering when moving stock.
- Plan fencing, especially for deer, that does not cause soil erosion from fence walking.
- Fence all vulnerable areas such as the banks of waterways and steep areas prone to slipping.
- Build safety devices in fences at vulnerable points so emergency access can be made.
Written by: Dr Clive Dalton