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Paddock shift innovation

 
Phil Hawkins
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So I have been paddock shifting my cows. I was doing this by running a new hotwire (portable electric fence) with about six stakes across my 300' wide paddocks. This took a while, because you have go up and back twice to tension and connect the line to the boundary fence hot wire. After putting the new wire up, you then had to take the old wire down, gather it up, and remove all the poles. Doing this every day was becoming a real pain, so I got to thinking about how to make life easier and came up with this "dog leg" approach.

1) Run the hotwire across, but with a "dog leg" running parallel to the boundary fence
2 - 4) Pick up one stake and walk it diagonally across, until you form another 90 degree bend. This means the fence will stay taut without you having to adjust the reel.
5) When you get to the end, walk the stake perpendicular to the boundary fence to set up the next dogleg
6) Move one stake diagonally again, as per steps 2 to 4.

Obviously you just keep repeating the process over and over.

If your boundary fences are parallel (as they are on most of my paddocks) you could even cut the wire to suit the required length, and then dispense with the need for a ratchet reel.

Anyway, I am sure that this has been done before, but it was an innovation to me, so it's possible that other people also didn't previously think of this
PAddockShiftInnovation.png
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Phil Hawkins
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I thought I would post a before/after shot to make this a little clearer (this at step 3 or 4 from the process described above).

There is about 50' between each of those stakes. I have moved the 4th one along from right to left (from the camera's perspective) by simply walking it in a diagonal. This has changed my fence rearranging time from about 10-15 minutes to 30 seconds, which means it is easy to do daily.
PaddockShiftDoglegBefore.jpg
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PaddockShiftDoglegAfter.jpg
[Thumbnail for PaddockShiftDoglegAfter.jpg]
 
Phil Hawkins
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I took a photo showing the dog leg just before I reset back to expose the first "square" in a new row. The cows can happily eat under that wire to the boundary fence.
PaddockShiftDogLeg.jpg
[Thumbnail for PaddockShiftDogLeg.jpg]
 
Nancy Sinclaire
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I had been trying to figure out all types of plans to most easily paddock shift. No pattern of mazes seemed to work. I too wanted to move the least amount of wire per shft and have the animals walk an easy pathway. I had tried all kinds of pie shapes, 8 sided shapes, etc. I had hoped to include tiny fenced sections of 9 various trees with nuts, fruit and shade falling outside of fence for animals evenly spaced in the field. I do not have a farm but want to plan out one logically. Maybe I should stop searching for the impossibly complicated and now that I see your very good yet simple but inspired idea and follow that. It seems to be exactly what I was looking for. The least possible amount of fence moving. Whem that idea came to you and you tried it the first day and saved time and work it must of been great. Do the animals seeing the grass is greener on the other side hang around there in anticipation of the next move thus no second wire is needed to keep the back side in? If chickens followed larger animals I wonder if they too would not need a follow up wire. Your systems looks as if a moveable chicken house could follow a straight path up the right side moving every once in a while instead of every fence move. How did you eventually handle the water access? If any is needed how do you handle positioning salt or minerals? Your posts on a wide range of topics have been very interesting to read. I like how on this board on many different topics I am able to read the thoughts from people of many different countries, especially places where people have still been practicing the old ways. Integrating the best practices of the old ways with a design plan is interesting.
 
Phil Hawkins
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Nancy Sinclaire wrote:Maybe I should stop searching for the impossibly complicated and now that I see your very good yet simple but inspired idea and follow that. It seems to be exactly what I was looking for. The least possible amount of fence moving.

You are very kind. I too had some complex ideas, but once I started having to move wire every day (rain, hail, or snake-infested shine) I started to chase efficiency with some serious vigour!

Nancy Sinclaire wrote:When that idea came to you and you tried it the first day and saved time and work it must of been great. Do the animals seeing the grass is greener on the other side hang around there in anticipation of the next move thus no second wire is needed to keep the back side in?

More or less - they certainly have no interest in where they have been when you expose the new grass. Because of my lack of portable water supply, I am not following them with a chaser fence, which means they can still get back to the trough. In the other thread I figured out how much grass to give the cows each day so that they left plenty of grass from the old patch. I'm sure after a while they would go back where they had come from and start to nibble again, but it probably wouldn't be for a while.

Nancy Sinclaire wrote:If chickens followed larger animals I wonder if they too would not need a follow up wire. Your systems looks as if a moveable chicken house could follow a straight path up the right side moving every once in a while instead of every fence move. How did you eventually handle the water access?

I will have a follow up wire once I sort the water access. Now that I have figured this approach out, I don't need to go to the complexity I had previously thought where I needed to reduce the width of my paddocks by adding a second wind break. Instead, I am going to add a single (wider) windbreak on the windward side of my paddocks, and run a water supply pipe along that. I plan on putting a small capacity trough on a small trolley with a hose on a reel so that I only need a tap every 100' or so.

Nancy Sinclaire wrote:If any is needed how do you handle positioning salt or minerals?

Not really sure - I need to digest some of the excellent info provided in the other thread to work out what (if any) enhancements are needed. I live on a flood plain, so we may be a little better off as far as minerals go as the place gets a fresh coating of silt every couple of years.

Nancy Sinclaire wrote:Your posts on a wide range of topics have been very interesting to read. I like how on this board on many different topics I am able to read the thoughts from people of many different countries, especially places where people have still been practicing the old ways. Integrating the best practices of the old ways with a design plan is interesting.

Thanks. Once again, you are very kind. I work as a software engineer, so I suppose of that engineering/systems thinking probably helps me think things through. I have a blog (linked in my signature) which has some more of my crazy ideas

I find the same thing about permies - there are so many people with so much knowledge to share.
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