An Evolution Of Fence, Part 2

Reader Contribution by Keba M Hitzeman
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Maker Pipe connectors

The farm, animal-wise, looks much different today than when we first started – the cattle are gone, the sheep and goats are grazing the large pastures in the summer. We have installed permanent fencing (either cattle panel or stretched fence) in those areas that we are turning into pastures and the areas we want to keep the animals out of, like our permanent hay pasture. But permanent fencing along the creek or around the buildings isn’t practical, and corral panel is expensive. To use what we have already made, the 16’ corral/cattle panels were set up where we may need to take down the barrier for some reason. As with other “temporary” things on a farm, these may become a permanent fixture, but I’d rather have them in use than rusting away behind the barn!

Even using the 10’ corral/cattle panel combo, I can only move about 8-9 of them before my back says enough! Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a 10’ panel that would be sturdy enough to keep sheep and goats contained, was lighter than the corral/cattle panels, and could be used with the corral/cattle panels to make larger pens?

Enter Kickstarter, and a project my husband backed – Maker Pipe. These fittings are great! They can be used as corner pieces or center “T” connectors. Cut some 3/4” EMT conduit, assemble with the fittings, and you now have a frame of whatever size you choose. We chose 10’ to “match” the corral/cattle panels we already had. We cut the EMT into 5’ lengths, connected them with the Maker Pipe connectors, wired sheep fence to that frame, and we could now make as many panels as we wanted.

Being light, these aren’t as sturdy as the corral/cattle panels, so we use them as “pen extenders” – the 10’ corral panels provide corner stability, with 2 or 3 conduit panels between the corral panels. They can be chained or wired together, and also to the corral panels.

**These conduit/sheep fence panels WILL TIP OVER if you put too many of them together, so we only use 2-3 in one run. I may use more when making a pen up against a tree line because the trees/brush/bushes will support them if a goat decides to put hooves on them to reach higher branches**

10’ EMT conduit + sheep fence panels…and a goatling!

We are pretty pleased with how the conduit/sheep fence panels are working out for creating small pastures where we can’t or don’t want to put in permanent fences. I also used them this spring to create lambing jugs in our large barn pens, although I need to install some eyebolts so I can secure the panels better for next lambing season– red poly twine was definitely not the best answer for hooking them together, but it worked for a temporary solution.

Now that we seem to have found a good solution, what have we learned with these panels? Because the conduit panels are so much lighter than their corral panel counterparts, we need to be hyper-aware of where we use them! If there are overhanging branches, the goats will climb the panels and bend the sheep fence. Using more than three conduit panels without a corral panel “corner” leads to instability and possible failure of the fence. If the area permits, you could use t-posts to provide more stability (chain or wire the conduit panels to the t-posts). Extremely uneven ground adds to stability issues, and you’ll need to watch for large gaps under the frames. I’m constantly surprised at how lambs can wiggle through the smallest holes!

This was certainly not a quick process, and it was frustrating to think we had solved the problem, then find out that it wasn’t going to work as well as we thought. But we’ve been able to repurpose the earlier versions of panels, so they aren’t wasted. Oh, I’m sure some are asking why we didn’t use an electric fence or netting. A few of the reasons – we need to keep the livestock guardian dogs contained with the flock, I have horned animals and have seen awful pictures of what happens when an animal gets stuck in netting, and it takes me too long to do the prep work to clear a path for the wires/netting in some of the areas. As with just about everything, your mileage may vary for any animal containment system.

The old saying that “necessity is the mother of invention” holds true here at Innisfree!

What have you invented out of necessity?

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