I had some requests to attempt to go into more detail on how I install my interior fencing system which I have been using for rotational grazing. It may be a somewhat unique approach to fencing but it works well for me so far.
I wanted a fence that was as invisible as possible for aesthetic reasons, easy to install, easy to repair, inexpensive, easy to reconfigure if necessary, and generally light and durable without being flimsy. After working with this fence for 2 years, I think it meets all these goals.
The fence consists of 5' rebar posts pounded in to "belly button height" (about 42" in my case), rod post insulators, 3 or 4 - 16 gauge high tensile wires, and a 26" tall woven wire around the perimeter. I get the rebar in 20' lengths from a local builders supply place and cut them into 5' lengths. The corner posts are made from various sized cedars from the farm unbraced and buried about 3'. To close off resting paddocks, I use wire gates with gate handles across the opening of a paddock. I use mini reels with nonconductive gate handle and clip on leads powering poly rope hanging on step in posts for paddock division. It is powered by a 24 joule mains charger with remote/fault finder and has six 8' ground rods spaced 8' apart as the grounding system. I haven't had a problem with lightning and run no lightning protection although it may be a good idea. I have a clip on flashing fence alarm which flashes red during a low voltage situation and can be easily seen from the house.
In my case, I installed swales which I wanted to fence larger animals out of. The video and pics below show how I did it. The same could be done for fencing animals out of newly planted tree lines for silvopasture and then easily reconfigured after the trees are established enough to benefit from animal impact. I was picky about installing my system "on contour" which in my area makes the fencing very curvy, again this is not a requirement or recommendation, just how I did it. It does, however, illustrate the amount of curve that can be easily achieved with this fencing system.
I have no affiliation with Kencove but they seem to have the best pricing and decent customer service so the parts list I provide is mostly going to be from there and is offered only as a help to readers trying to find gear.
Corner lags www.kencove.com/fence/Wood+Post+Insulators_detail_ILCE.php
26" woven wire www.kencove.com/fence/Hinge+Joint_detail_WH7-6.php
mini reels www.kencove.com/fence/Reels_detail_RMININ.php
non conductive handles
gate handles www.kencove.com/fence/Gate+Handles_detail_GRB.php
fence alarm www.kencove.com/fence/Fence+Monitors_detail_MFA.php
Integrating swales into an area which will be fenced for rotational grazing changes the requirements for fencing in several ways. First let me define some terms. A Swale is a ditch on contour which is used to stop and soak water, stop erosion, and provide a uncompacted mound which is good for growing trees. Rotational grazing is an animal and land management strategy which attempts to maximize the productivity of a grazing scheme while regenerating and improving landscape, improve animal health by grazing an area once in a minimum of 21 days to break pest cycles and allow regenerative growth of forages, reducing or eliminating feed and fuel and labor inputs and the making of hay, and distributing urine and manure evenly throughout the system in a way that is beneficial to the land and animals.
In the picture below, I show the system I installed on the farm and have been moving pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and rabbits through it. I wrote the word for each item in the color it is drawn in. As you can see, the swales have fencing on both sides to keep large animals from degrading the earthwork while allowing the smaller animals access to them. The birds are beneficial to the swales, they are too light to degrade them and they forage on and fertilize them. Fencing on both sides adds initial cost, labor, materials, length and complexity. It results in a system that day to day, is very user friendly and lays nice on the landscape because it follows the natural contours of the land. When the trees I planted on the swales are more mature, it will result in shade being distributed throughout my pastures, changing the species of grasses which can survive and providing shade to my animals and habitat for wild animals and insects.
In my setup, the animals have access at all times to a 110 gallon spring fed water tank, a simple rain shelter, a wooded loafing area near the water for shade, a 2 acre forest paddock rotated weekly, and the laneway which connects all the paddocks with one of the gates open and a new section of pasture daily. To clarify, I have one of the red gates open to one of the paddocks and after that I have a temporary fence with polyrope and step in posts run perpendicular to the paddock that I move 30-50' back daily. When I reach the end of a paddock (the side furthest from the red gate), I open the next paddock in the rotation and close off last one. I feed a small amount of grain, eggs, and molasses in the central area to keep them occupied while I move the fencing. I can get this "chore" done in 15 minutes and is all the pigs need in a day. I don't need to clean up poop, carry water, change bedding, and my animals are staying very healthy with no worming or vaccinations.
In late summer, I intend to leave some of the paddocks to grow to their full height and let them stand into the dormant season. I will then creep graze through this standing forage in the winter. I may not be able to have as many animals this way, but I won't need to buy or store hay, nor buy the expensive equipment and buildings and fuel and time and labor to make it and put it up. Not making or buying hay and holding to your winter carrying capacity increases the profitability of a farm according to modern grazers such as Jim Gerrish author of "Kick the Hay Habit" and "Management Intensive Grazing".
See the posted video for a better visual explanation. Enjoy!
The standard H frame corners used for barbed wire and welded wire fences are not ideal for high tensile electric fences. The H corner requires 3 posts and holes and 2 cross braces while the floating angle brace corner requires 1 post, 1 hole and 2 braces. For the 5' tall fence shown below, I used an 8' 6" cedar post with 2 - 10' angle braces.
The angle brace MUST BE at least 2 times the length of the height of the top wire ie. for a 5' fence the angle brace must be at least 10' or you WILL end up replacing the corner when it pulls out of the ground. I found this out the hard way and redid many corners once I started pulling and tightening the wire on the posts.
I set the post 3' deep with no concrete and tamped the fill back in place a few inches at a time. Then just below the top wire, I cut an angle out of the post on both sides. I then cut the end of the angle brace to match the cut in the post.
Then set a flat rock or concrete block into the ground and cut the other end of the angle brace to lay flat on the block. Notch the end of the angle brace and pound a staple to hold the tension wire.
Wrap the tension wire around the post and brace and staple it to the post as tight as you can get it by hand. The tension wire is smooth 12 gauge high tensile the same as the fence itself.
Put a stick in between the wires and turn it until the brace is tight into the notch in the post but not fully tensioned yet. Repeat for the other side then tighten them both until proper tension is achieved. Make sure the wire is holding the stick into the side of the brace post opposite from where you are going to string wire.
Here is the finished product with the author/builder for scale. When properly constructed, these corners perform very well. They cost less time, labor, and materials to install and you only need to dig one hole. If you have lots of cedar or some other fence post wood the corners are nearly free.
On the farm, there are many hills and valleys. If the hills are large and long enough, they form wet weather ditches at the bottom of them. The ditch shown above is about 12' wide and 6' deep and needed to be fenced to keep my dogs in. I watched how others fenced ditches and creeks in the area and it usually consists of a cattle panel jammed into the creek or ditch which gets clogged with junk and blocks the creek causing the bank to erode. Eventually the panel gets washed away leaving a gaping hole in your fence.
Since the fence already had to go over the top of the ditch, and the fence is electrified, I thought the ditch could be blocked by hanging some light metal chain from the lowest wire to a few inches above the ground. The chain had 6000volts on it and it looked like it would work until Dude, the fence testing dog, walked back and forth through it without getting shocked. I also began to worry that an animal could become tangled in it and die a terrible death. I added more chains and it worked better but I was not satisfied.
I then came up with the idea of hanging light duty Red Brand welded wire sections to the lower wire. The roll was 4' wide and 100' long so I cut sections out of it, cut it to fit the contour of the ditch, and hung it from the lower fence wire which made it electrified to 6-7000 volts. Dude the fence testing dog didn't even try to get through it. Any animal coming up to this will have to put their nose on it to push it up and walk under it. Before the spring floods come, I will attach some sections of foam pipe insulation to the bottom of it so in a flood situation, the sections can float up on an angle with the current instead of hanging in the water, getting clogged with debris, and pulling the fence down.
I needed a fence that would keep the neighborhood dogs from coming around and chasing my chickens, children, or my mom and that could reliably hold in whatever livestock I decided to get in the future. The time and money budget was limited so I read all I could about farm fencing and found that high tensile electric would be the best for a perimeter fence around these 96 acres. Compared to barbed wire, In my opinion, high tensile is much safer and more effective for animals. It is also much easier to work with and less expensive than both barbed or woven wire. In some places on the farm, I was able to go 60' between posts. Woven or barbed call for a post every 10' regardless of terrain as it needs to be a physical barrier and not a psychological barrier like electric. High Tensile Electric is about 30% cheaper than barbed and woven wire would have been 3x the cost just for materials. Not to mention that woven or barbed require much more labor and time to install. Also, maintenance seems to be much easier. I go out each morning to look at my fence charger and judging by the readout I can tell if something fell on the fence or not. To determine this with woven or barbed, you would need to walk the entire fence or wait for the call from your neighbor that your animals escaped. Several times trees fell on the fence putting all the wires to the ground and once the tree is removed, the fence springs back to its original position. I doubt woven or barbed would do the same.
This was not a "beginner" fence. There are wet weather ditches taller than me that needed to be fenced. About 90% of the fence is installed through some really wild woods on rolling to steep terrain. I had to make a bulldozer trail around the perimeter before beginning to install it. There are some crazy steep parts that I couldn't put the dozer on so the trail was made with a chainsaw.
The bit exposed to the road is 5' tall with seven 12 1/2 gauge 200ksi smooth high tensile wires. The rest through the woods is 4' tall with 6 wires. I originally installed it as a 4 wire fence but my official fence tester dog, Dude, jumped right through it like it wasn't even there. I then installed 2 more wires to make it a 6 wire fence with 6-8" between wires. The fence is powered by a Stafix x6i 6 joule 12v dc charger that can power 60km of wire and came with a remote. It puts between 6 and 7000v on the fence depending on how wet or dry it has been.
I will discuss the materials and methods in detail including corner construction, wire tying and terminating, insulators, ditch crossings and the charger wiring in future posts.