Sustainable farming - fencing

fencingIn a nutshell...

  • Fencing to subdivide a farm is a basic requirement to keep control of pasture growth.
  • This in turn controls stock performance.
  • Fencing is a major capital cost on the farm so must be planned and done well.
  • A quality well-planned programme will have minimal on-going maintenance costs.
  • Wrong decisions on fence type and placement can lead to serious animal, pasture and soil problems.

How can you tell if you have a problem?

  • Stock out of control grazing and wandering all over the farm and on the roadways.
  • Poor unproductive pastures because of poor grazing control.
  • Poor pasture utilisation - always plenty of dead stalk visible.
  • Stock poorly fed and in poor condition.
  • Poor reproductive performance (lambing and calving percentages).
  • Poor growth rates -few stock fattened and most sold as poor stores.
  • Permanent weed infestation.

How can you tell if you're doing well?

  • Productive pastures.
  • Good balance of grass and clover (70:30)
  • An effective controlled grazing programme in operation all year round.
  • No clumps of dead seed heads left on pastures.
  • Stock that are fully fed and in good condition all year round.
  • Well grown and healthy young stock.
  • Good stock flow around the farm via races and well-placed gates.
  • Fences that need little maintenance.
  • Stock crossings over waterways that cause no damage.
  • Waterways free from sediment.
  • Stream water safe to drink.

What can you do to improve things?

  • Work out a complete property subdivision plan - with a consultant if necessary.
  • Fence to the natural contour.
  • The aims are to achieve good pasture utilisation for livestock production, along with care of the soil and water on the farm.
  • Plan the fencing programme to ensure good stock flow along their natural paths.
  • Place gateways to avoid smothering when moving stock.
  • Plan fencing, especially for deer, that does not cause soil erosion from fence walking.
  • Fence all vulnerable areas such as the banks of waterways and steep areas prone to slipping.
  • Build safety devices in fences at vulnerable points so emergency access can be made.

Where can you go for help?

  • Regional Councils
  • County Councils
  • Federated Farmers of NZ
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
  • Department of Conservation
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