Archive for December, 2011

December 29, 2011

High Tensile for Goats – Revisited

High Tensile 1

This time last year I was researching the best fencing options for goats. We’ve used several in the past to include welded wire and woven wire, but the cost and work (read: stretching and seaming*) involved to put woven wire (as we will never again use welded wire for goats) around 15 acres with hills and heavily wooded areas would be astronomical. Upkeep was a big concern too.

I had read that high tensile wire, even if electrified, will not keep a goat in. I read from others that it will… providing you have a minimum of 8 wires (not gonna happen!). After a whole lotta research, a whole lotta reviews, we decided we were going to put it anyway with 4-5 strands, despite naysayers.

High tensile should not be confused with other electric wire fencing. High tensile is a lot thicker than the average electric fence wire and needs to be installed with an in-line strainer  within each line. The system also require special insulators (pin lock) and is a complete fencing system rather than a partial fencing/deterrent/back up system as most other electric wire fencing. Granted, we have seen some keep in herds of cattle with  temporary single line electric wires, but these are usually only for rotational grazing on fields that aren’t a herd’s normal grazing parcel and often times the cattle are trailer-ed to these parcels.

I am here to say that after a 8 months of ‘normal’ (for us) use, given the right conditions (which I’ll explain later), high tensile wire in 4-5 strands works fabulous, is easy on the pocket book (and actually SAVED/SAVES money), will last longer and keep the goats in to boot! In total, replacing several wooden  corner posts, reusing many of the t-posts from the old fence and buying used ones, the Wedge-Loc components, wire and insulators, to fence the entire property was about $2000. Anything else would have been at least double that, without taking into consideration the work stretching it which is my LEAST favorite part. Stretching woven wire vs. high tensile, well, there is no comparison!

http://herdmarmalade.blogspot.com/2011/03/for-love-of-high-tensile.html

Now, we’re set off a main road but on a main road nonetheless. The goats are quite a ways back off the main road and we have neighbors on both sides with nothing else out there besides property.  If the goats had access close to the main road, I would consider something else (cattle panels perhaps?) along that stretch mainly because, while I would doubt they’d go through it under most circumstances, I’d be afraid that if conditions were right ( predator attack) they’d do whatever was necessary to get away, including going through the fence to the road. But as it is, they are quite a ways from the road. I know and have seen people run their goats along roads with just a few strands of wire, but for us, if it were a question of them being along the road, we’d use a different type.

The goats have the run on much of our acreage. We needed to be mindful of fencing that would work well with other animals too (namely horses). The prior fencing (non-electrified) twisted non-barbed 4 strand wire was falling down, posts were rotting etc. which is the main reason we wanted to replace it. We could have simply -probably- strung a few electric wires on our side with insulators and called it a day, but being as how the whole fence was 30+ year old, it was time to come out.

I would not use this type of fencing for pens or smaller (i.e. less than 1/2 an acre) enclosures where the ‘pressure’ would be high. I would go cattle panels all the way there. We’ve been extremely happy with the panes performance in high pressure enclosures.Expensive yes, but east of use and durability can’t be beat!

Putting in woven wire would have required so many wooden posts that it would have blown the fence budget. Not to mention, if a goat got the urge, they will stand on that stuff and with the woods we have, and ice storms, if a tree were to fall on it, we’d be seaming and stretching* another piece back in. Not my idea of a good time. This high tensile is supposed to be very bouncy. It actually is very bouncy (read: limbs on line*).

Most said said that the part that takes the longest is the stringing of any type of fence. Not this fencing! The part that took the longest was the removal of the old fencing and posts! The stringing, once the end/corner posts are sunk, goes quick! It can be a one person job but Jeremiah and I got into a good rhythm and were both pretty much working all of the time in sync. Some jobs, you know, require help only some of the time so one person may be sitting there getting bored.  After the first line goes up (which acts as your guide wire pretty much), between your two set posts, we’d just go along and sink t-posts in. After that he’d start stringing another line, I’d start in putting up insulators and it’s history from there.

I do recommend tightening your first wire with your inline strainer before putting in any more wires (or your line posts) or running a guide wire as with any other type of fence but shy not save time and sip that step and just use the first wire? As for wooden posts, we only used theme every 30-60 feet or so (depended on the terrain, ours is hilly with some straight aways). Our t-posts required closer setting and we determined that spacing based on where the wire as coming too high off the ground (valleys) or hitting the ground (hills). If you have nothing but flat property, they say you can get away with farther spaced line posts, and it’s actually recommended as this fence was designed for long stretches which helps with bounce back, though batten spacers are recommended to keep your lines evenly spaced . You try long spances between any posts with any other type of fencing, and the outcome will not be good.

I am happier with the wooden corner posts than I am with the t-post  we used with the Wedge Loc system to create our “Z” braces at (1) start and (1) corner. In the future we may loosen up the fence at the in-line strainers and replace them with wooden but they are holding up just fine under the strain…they just bowed naturally in the middle. We didn’t use two to create one ‘post’ like some recommended for strength, I seriously doubt it would have made much of a difference though may not have bowed with a second. It’d more for looks that we’d like to replace with wooden than anything.

The Wedge-Loc system  made putting in braces go so quickly and we did use them for corners, places where we put in cross fencing and where the fences started both on the wooden posts and t posts! So far, they’ve held up fine. Time will tell how well they weather though they are made from alunimum so there’s no reason they should corrode, etc.  (As for stability,  strength, and speed, they are fabulous and can’t be beat.!)

High tensile beginning brace
We started out using a t-post for a corner post and while it has held up just as well as a wooden one in terms of the pull on it, it did bow a little in the center (which has not affected anything) but is not as aesthetically pleasing as a wooden post. You could weld 2 t posts together for the corners but it will not work with the Wedge-Loc system. You’ll need to weld your braces on too, which isn’t a big deal, if you weld, which hubby does, but this works just fine.
High tensile cross fence corner
This is actually a cross fence section, not a corner but  we prefer starting a fence with a wooden post as opposed to a t-post

As for how it’s holding the goats in? Just fine, BUT, as with any electric fence, YOU MUST TRAIN THEM TO IT! We started out in an acre section (mostly because that’s what was up). As I explained in an earlier post, I stood on one side with grain and pretty much let them walk in to it. It only took the adults once to learn that they wanted nothing to do with the fence. For that 1 acre section, we did put in 5 strands with the first being a mere 6″ off the ground. At the time we had small kids, and will have them again and we want them to know what the fence is and that it’s not something you really want to mess with. Occasionally they’d get too close but unless the fence is off, they stick to the ‘right’ side of the fence.

In addition to training them to it, you need a fencer big enough to do the job you are wanting it to do. Too small a fencer will get you nothing but a weak to non-working fence somewhere in the line. Making sure that your lines aren’t arcing and your system is property grounded is important too. Gallagher has some info we found useful.

For the majority of the property, we went with 4 strands set at 8″, 10″, 12″ and 12″. For the acre parcel they were set ay 6″, 8″, 8″, 10″ and 12″ apart- 5 strands. For the bucks pasture (in which we only did 5 strand as a cross fence which will separate them from the does as the rest of it is property line), they are set at 8″, 10″ 10″, 12″ and 12″ apart. We have yet to test the bucks in pasture in rut with cycling females as of yet because by the time the breeding season started, with so little rain, there wasn’t enough forage to bother with putting them out to pasture on. So, time will tell if the electric fence will be any match for that. I am thinking, however, we’ll go ahead and cross fence a few more sections so that the does cannot be right up against the fence to tested them and thus the fence will not need to be tested to the max nor will there be any chance for the situation to be inhumane if the bucks or does continually test the fence trying to get to one another.

To date we’ve had several large limbs* fall onto the fence and we’ve just lifted them off and the fence bounces right back. We do go around with the weed eater occasionally though we could solve this by taking the lowest line(s) off the ‘juice” eliminating grounding. However, right now we have them on for predators or nuisances…but then that’s where King, the LGD, comes in. He doesn’t like intruders.

The fence keeps the dog in and even though he’s not out there all the time (he spends his days near the house in the back yard and some nights as well). I am pretty sure deer are not coming onto the property at all any more either. I think this is partially to do with the electric, though they can easily clear the lines in a single bound. More than likely though, it’s because of the dog. I don’t mind deer except for the fact they can carry deadly (to goats) parasites. So, best if they just keep off.

Anyway, we’re extremely satisfied with the high-tensile fencing to say the least!

I’ve included some sites that we found useful when researching and installing. Happy fencing!



http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/442/442-132/442-132.html


http://www.dareproducts.com/pdf_s/DARE_htfs.pdf

http://www.maxflex.com/HTsmooth_wire.htm

http://www.zarebasystems.com/store/electric-fence-high-tensile

http://www.premier1supplies.com/list.php?mode=list&cat_id=51