So I have about a 1/2 acre of pasture I want to reclaim from the woods. I have 13 acres...but 10 of them are north facing vertical woods so every foot of pasture counts. This particular section is mostly young, fruitless hazelnuts, vinemaple, ferns and underbrush with a few stately firs, cedars and a big leaf maple. This is one of the flatter sections that could be "pasturized," but its not totally flat. So yesterday I bushwacked around trying to figure out where to place my fence and I have a clear shot from big tree to big tree using them as main posts because, as it turns out, the name of my town means 'Gravely Plains" and...yeah, its hard to drive large posts into that ground.
SO question being: What kind of fencing would you use on rough terrain to keep in first pigs, then sheep? I am sort of inclined to continue with the New Zealand high tension fencing someone started in the front because I could deal with differences in ground height a little better....but can it keep its tension on a slow curve, or does it have to be straight? Then there is the problem of it shorting out when the grass hits it.
Other option is field fencing, but again, how well can two smaller ladies stretch it on varying degrees of slope in a spot where you can't bring in power tools? Then again, it wont short out.
Determined pigs are going to be hard to keep in no matter what you do, and however much you tighten the fence, because they can dig under. Maybe lay some fence flat on the ground towards the inside? Or field fence and then electric inside of it, and train the pigs to respect the wire, perhaps by baiting it. You will have to beware of the electric setting stuff on fire in the dry season, as well as shorting out. The dilemma with all critters is if you keep them well fed and contented, they won't want to challenge the fence as much. But in order to get them to really work the area and obtain some of their own food in the process, they will always be interested in easier picking on the other side of whatever boundary you set up. This applies to any critter....
Old hog farmers in GA used to say that hogs can smell whether an electric fence is on or not. I don't doubt it. As for sheep, their wool is a good insulator, so unless they catch a shock on the nose (or, better yet, the tongue----baited wire!) they might never know about it.....
Build solid perimeter fence--high tension or field fence (high tension is way cheaper and easier in most cases). Yes it has to be STRAIGHT to work right. Put one barbed wire directly tight on the ground to keep them from digging under (I know Paul doesn't like that, and I don't really either but it beats the alternatives).
Pigs DO NOT LIKE ELECTRICITY!!! You can train them to electric fences by rubbing the bottom wire with peanut butter or other fragrant food, then they will touch the wire with their nose first and learn to respect the wire. But that bottom wire has to be close enough to the ground and hot enough it isn't worth it for whatever they think is on the other side. Not easy when there is candy and here is nothing, not hard when it is candy here and more candy there.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
If you are going to use the trees, you might consider nailing a 2x4 to the tree and then nailing your fence to that. Less damage to the tree, it's removable and it doesn't leave nails or staples in trees you may want for timber someday.
For my goats I use aluminum 12 gauge wire on t posts. With aluminum wire you tension it just enough to take most of the slack out and let the fence charger do the 'talkin'. I don't use fence tensioners - I just pull it hand tight.
I hear what you're saying about gravel though. There is a 18" or 20" berm of gravel and rock beside one of our roads. Not easy.
I can sympathize. We also have very rocky ground and it is nearly impossible to put posts in. We did put in some high tensile wire fencing last year and it was NOT cheap. Fencing has been a major obstacle for improving our homestead because the damned stuff is so expensive. Especially when you need to hire a guy with a post-pounder on his bobcat to put them in. And like you, our ground is not flat but rolling hill-ish.
We do raise pigs and we have had no problem with them breaking out, except for the one time the electric went down. Yup, they can smell it I'm sure! Anyways, what we did was put in high tensile along one side of their paddock (the side that borders the neighbour), then we just had the guys put posts around the other three sides (it's triangle shaped) and we simply used 2 or 3 rows of poly wire. We also ran some around the bottom of the high tensile fence to discourage digging but honestly they never tried (we had 4 pigs on about 1/4 - 1/2 acre of mixed grass and woodland). Shorting due to plant growth was a major problem but fortunately our pigs seemed content to stay put.
If I were in your situation I might consider step posts and poly wire. If there is enough food inside to keep them happy they shouldn't try to break out. You can move the stuff around easily, it adjusts readily to changes in elevation, and you don't need it so high that you yourself can't just step over it to get in and out so you don't even need a gate. Here we have less undergrowth under the tree canopy than not so less issues with shorting out.
I saw pictures of a fence post on a base that just sat on the ground. Sorry I don't remember where. If you use electric fence, they won't push up against it. I don't have electricity yet, so I have two types of fence chargers, solar and 12 volt w/battery. The 12 volt w/battery works better, but the solar works ok once they were trained.
Thanks. The piggies are all trained to electric. Well...piglets are still figuring it out. Momma keeps a good 2 foot distance from the fence on the front side.
My biggest obstetrical is figuring out how to fence the terrain. I cut a path that was 70 degree angle from wood post to tree (using the tree as a brace post), then a pretty straight shot to the next tree. the fence would have to turn at another 70 degree angle for the next section. finally i could do a normal 90 degree angle to get back to the pasture but i have a 45 degree drop for about 10 feet then its flat. Premier is out of the hog net (back order)
Someone suggested to me "safe fence" poly tape. I don't see why that wouldn't keep in the pigs that are electric trained?
Erika - Walter Jeffries has something in a post or his website about how he fences his pigs in with an electrified cable. He drills eye hooks into trees and uses them as fence posts, then pulls the cable out and into the next pasture when he switches. It looks super efficient to put up and effective at stopping them from getting out. At least I think it was Walter. It should be very doable for you to do this.
Yeah it sounds really cool, you can just take the end of the cable and drag it to the next pasture and it will run through the eye hooks without needing to go and unhook each post before pulling. Just grab the end and walk to your next pasture. Some day I'll have enough land to do this!
Ben Plummer wrote:Here's a good article on the type of fence Miles mentioned.
Wow, this is wonderful. When we harvest trees, I can use the tops for this and the scrawny trees that aren't commercially viable. Eventually, all the fences could be like this, I think though, instead of nails, I would like to lash them, so I can take them apart when I need to move equipment.
One thing, being in the tropics, I would like to experiment with is sticking the cross pieces in the ground, out of wood that sprouts, that way, the pieces that touch the ground just grow, perhaps doing a little graft with the cross beams, be interesting if I could make a living fence this way....
Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica