Good fences surely make good neighbors, and they make even the most experienced folks into better animal husbands. Good fences will keep the flock safe and the herd out of the garden or your neighbor’s alfalfa. With good fences, you and the critters will experience the joys of low stress management. But what makes a good fence, you might wonder.
Since the role of most farm fences is to act as barriers, different types of fences will work best for different classes of livestock and poultry. Fences are also fundamentally vulnerable to malfunction because determined (or panic-driven) animals will regularly test them.
Fences carry out their barrier-mission in two fundamental ways: physical and psychological. The 12-foot tall stone wall in good repair will keep most animals in or out no matter how much they rub, scratch or try to climb it — it’s a formidable physical barrier.
Conversely, the fence created with a single strand of lightweight polywire conductor, offers little in the way of a physical barrier, but when that conductor is appropriately energized with electrical pulses, it will serve as a psychological barrier once animals have been shocked by it.
With few exceptions, the most effective fence designs integrate both physical and psychological components. Spend a little time learning about the animals you wish to fence in — or out — and you just might become a good neighbor yourself.
Watch the full episode! Hanks shares hints like these in each episode of Tough Grit. Visit Tough Grit online to view this episode and many more. The tips on good fences above appeared in Episode 24, “Suits You to a ‘T’.”
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+.