Last week, after deciding that the Mulefoot pigs needed to expand their foraging horizons a bit, I set up a temporary 5-wire electric fence around part of the pine grove. There are plenty of hackberries and a few acorns on the ground in there, thanks to the deciduous trees that have colonized part of the understory … and the cattle left a bounty of good grass.
Since I have plenty step-in Poly Posts, t-posts, 17-gauge steel wire and assorted insulators on hand, that’s what I used for the fence. My design will make purists cringe, but years of management-intensive grazing experience taught me that a lot of approaches work … even if they are unorthodox.
The “new” fence was going to border the existing Mulefoot pig enclosure, so I opted to make use of the existing welded-wire/barbed wire permanent fence for one side of the new paddock – I chose two t-posts in that fence to define two corners. I drove new steel t-posts to define the other two corners of the enclosure. Since I don’t love wiring up doughnut insulators at corners, and I knew that this fence was only needed for a month or so, I decided to use step-in Poly Posts for the corner insulators. I simply stepped the poly posts into the ground with the clips facing the t-posts and wired them together. The t-posts anchor the Poly Posts.
Running the wire was relatively easy. I set the spool on a small jenny at one corner and walked lengths of wire around the new paddock. I routed the wire through the clips on the “corner” posts, so that the strain would be against the post and not the clips themselves. Once the wires were run, I installed the rest of the Poly Posts and cut an opening in the welded wire to give the pigs access.
This temporary electric enclosure took about 45 minutes to put together and it encloses about an acre of ground. The wires at 6 and 12 inches are sufficient to keep the pigs in and smaller critters out. The three higher wires keep the cattle and hopefully coyotes at bay. So far, we have not left the pigs in their wooded paddock at night though, so it may not be totally varmint proof. It is charged by a single lead wire to the existing permanent electric fence.
After assuring themselves that the opening in the welded wire fence was indeed real, the pigs explored their new wooded pasture and set to discovering tasty treasures that only they could appreciate. We feed the Mulefoot pigs a certified organic grain and mineral ration, but they now spend most of their day out in the pine grove rooting around.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.