March 22, 2014

Before you buy or build a fence

Before you buy or build a fence

Q. What is the fence’s location? Is it flat? Or does it go over hills and ditches and around curves? Is it covered with brush, trees or open grass? Are the soils rocky, very soft, sandy or firm?
A.The optimum fence design often hinges on answers to these questions.

Q. Do the animals know the fence?
A. Local animals and wildlife get to “know” a fence by appearance, location and “pain memory.” If it’s a strong or painful fence they avoid it. On the other hand animals new to fences may challenge them. That’s why strong, tall and visible permanent fences are essential.

Q. What specific animals need to be fenced in or out?
A. Always design and build for the most difficult species. Rules of thumb:
• Deer jump with ease. Fences need to be tall or 3-D. 
• Smaller garden pests easily walk beneath deer fences, spacings need the bottoms of fences must be close together. 

Q. Should you energize the fence? 
A. It pays to do this. Why?
• A “hot” strand has a “zone of pain.” So fewer strands are needed if one is energized. Both the material and the labor to install is reduced. 
Energized fences last longer and require less maintenance—because animals do not crowd, rub or scratch on them. So the fence wires (including wires that are not energized) require less tension to do their job. And braces and corner posts will last longer. 
• Animals are more surely contained or excluded during breeding and weaning. 

Q. How keen will animals be to breach the fence line? 
A. Build for the worst-case situation (if you can afford to do so). 
Some situations that require more secure fences:
• Hunger. Starved animals will eventually challenge most fences. 
• Weaning. Strong physical barriers are needed. 
• Breeding. Libido induces all creatures to challenge rules and especially fences. 
• Boredom. Animals in corrals, stalls and feedlots crave any “entertainment” or activity. 
• Gateways and handling yards. Animals often push each other into fences when being moved. 
• Fear and fright. Predators or loud noises can cause “prey” species (e.g. horses, goats, turkeys) to run in terror straight into, under, over or through any fence, no matter what fence design (netting, high-tensile or woven wire).

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