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need tips for building paddock fence

 
Mariah Wallener
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Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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So hubby and I have decided to try our hands at putting in our own fencing. We'll be using 4 inch cedar round posts and 6' high wire mesh. Because this fencing will hold our pigs, we need to either bury the wire down into the ground, or put boards along the bottom of the fenceline. Boards will cost us a lot more, since we are fencing over 300 feet. However, I can't figure out how we're going to bury the posts and the wire at the same time...

First, our ground is incredibly rocky and I've been told by neighbours not to waste time renting a post-hole digger as you have to stop every couple of inches to remove a large rock. So we thought we'd rent a bobcat and just dig a long trench into which both the fence posts and the buried bottom of the wire mesh can go. However, in imagining how to do this I can't figure out how to bury the wire.

Do we attach the wiring to the posts first and put the whole long thing into the trench and fill it up? I would think that would be hard to get the wire tight. But if we put the posts in first how do we secure them if we need to bury the bottom of the wire mesh too before we fill in the post holes?

(You'd think after 12 years at university I could figure something like this out....)
 
Chris Stelzer
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Hey L8,

Might I suggest electric fencing? You can chose between many different types. Wired, woven wire, tape and netting.

I have seen people using one single strand of electric wire/rope about 18" high off the ground to keep in pigs.

www.kencove.com has a great selection and customer service. No, I don't work for them or profit from recommending their products and services.

You could take it a step further and put two, three or four rows of wire/rope to keep the pigs in. This gives you incredible flexibility. Say in 10 years you don't want that fence there anymore, with electric fencing all you need to do is pull out the posts and the fence is gone! If you'd like more info on electric fencing I'd be happy to help.

Hope this helps
 
Mariah Wallener
Posts: 167
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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Hi Chris,

I appreciate the suggestions. We used portable electric fencing last year for the pigs and there's a lot to like about the system. However, part of this new paddock is perimeter fencing along one side of the property boundary, and we want that to be high quality, good looking, and long-lasting stuff (the neighbour is giving us the posts: her ex-husband was supposed to install fencing along there too and left before he got it done). The area we are enclosing with the fencing includes the septic field, so we won't be able to use it for anything else.

Anyways, I've found stuff online showing how to put in posts, and how to attach and stretch wire mesh fencing, but I can't seem to figure out how people bury it along with the posts...
 
Chris Stelzer
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I'm sorry I misunderstood what you were saying. A nice perimeter fence like the one you are describing will be very nice once it's put in. I haven't a clue about how to go about putting one in since your neighbors told you that a post hole digger doesn't work. Maybe you could ask some of your more distant neighbors who have a fence similar to yours how they went about putting in their fence. I hope it works out for you!

Chris
 
Jami McBride
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I've helped friends put in T-post & cattle panel AND post and wire/electric wire.

On the later we used a post hole digger, us three ladies, and it worked fine.  We used two types of po diggers - once called a Boston digger and the other the standard cheap model.  The first worked better, so not all pod are created equal.  The fencing was not burred along with the posts, so I can't help you there.
 
Tim Canton
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Hi  L8,

A couple things I am thinking.  

I have very rocky soil as well and encountered numerous large rocks when I put in about450 ft of fence with posts every 10 feet.   i would try a power 2 man auger if you have 2 strong people.  You will need to stop and dig out rocks but it better than all by hand by far.   But when those machines grab you need to know you can hold it and shut it down if there is no deadman handle on it.   They are very powerful and could really hurt someone.   Maybe dig a few holes at random spots in the area and see what you have?

Alternatively if you are renting a bobcat rent the auger attachment and use it.  No problem then.   Are you putting all the posts in concrete?   If not a ditch dug with  a bobcat may leave too much "weak" soil around the posts without a lot of tamping.   Maybe  you could easily dig the ditch by hand or with say a ditchwitch with a skinny blade and then sink the post holes in?

Hope that helps
 
Mariah Wallener
Posts: 167
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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Thanks, organick! That's the sort of info I was looking for.

We'll pass on the auger, as I'm not that strong and neither myself nor my hubby have experience using such tools. OTOH, I totally forgot that you can get auger attachments for tractors and such. That might be the way to get our post holes dug...

Now I have to figure out how to lay straight fencing on a grade...I know the poles must be upright, but how the heck are we gonna get the wire mesh lay straight without cutting and resetting each square as we go down the line?

Who would have thought there is so much to the simple agricultural fence?
 
John Polk
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Instead of burying it, lay the bottom +/- foot on the ground, and cover it with dirt.  Much easier to make it conform to irregular ground, plus it still keeps Mr Porkchop from rooting under it.  No matter how nice your pasture is, the other side is always greener to a hog.
 
Brice Moss
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if you have tons of rocks to pull out of the garden anyway maybe you could pile them along the bottom of the fence instead fo digging

if you want to do it all in a day rent a trenching machine and powered post hole digger dig the trench where you want the fenceline about 8" deep then use the powered posthole digger and be done with it. hard work but you can put in a lot of fence in a day with those tools available.
 
Mariah Wallener
Posts: 167
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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You guys are awesome!

Thanks for the great ideas.

And now...for one more question. The land slopes gently downwards over the first 250 feet of fenceline, then goes up sharply over about 50 feet. Should we just cut the mesh into smaller sections and lower them as the land steps down appropriately? If we do that, seems to me we'll have to do a lot of tightening of smaller sections, and then there's the issue of putting in braces and things (which, normally I understand would just go at the corner sections).
 
Tim Canton
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Hey L8,



There are different ways to run the fence and deal with slope.  On a gentle slope often you have to do nothing but step down on the fence as you attach the fasteners to each post  (only the end post really get fastened, the rest get left loose enough for expansion/contraction).    For steeper sloping you need to pick a point and cut from either the bottom or top )depending on up or down slope)  through several sections and overlap the fence and re-wrap those  sections..  The big fence company  (red brand maybe)  has some good installation videos on their site too.......  Cutting the fence entirely through would probably  involve extra bracing like you said.      Hope that helps
 
John Polk
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On steep, or very irregular terrain, I would go with wire instead of mesh.  It will be much easier, and cheaper as well.  Meshing is too expensive to be cutting up and trying to make a "quilt" out of, plus you will be losing a lot of its strength if it is assembled like a jig-saw puzzle.
 
Mariah Wallener
Posts: 167
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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Ah organick, it sounds so simple when you say it, it's embarassing that we didn't even think of that. But things become so much more obvious when you DO rather than just THINK about it, eh? I think that would work very well (stepping down on the fence when attaching to all but end posts). That would avoid having the fencing look off-level.

John: I can see the benefit of wire in this case, but the fence also needs to keep our dog (about 40 lbs) from wandering off-property and I'm quite sure she could easily slip between the wires. In fact, I would think that even the pigs could do that if the posts are the usual 8 feet apart, couldn't they?

I should re-title this thread "fencing for total newbies".
 
Tim Canton
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L8,

I just want to check.  Are you using woven field fence?  And if so you know it needs to be stretched using a come-a-long?  Just checking
 
Mariah Wallener
Posts: 167
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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Yes that part we had figured out organick. Surprising, but true, lol. I've found a few good videos online about how to do that, but I appreciate the suggestion. Considering everything else I've asked I am not surprised. 

Hubby starting to get cold feet...He's hinting we should hire some guys to do one line of the fencing so we can "watch and take notes". 

If we didn't care what it looked like it would be different, but given it's a property boundary it has to be neat and nice. I may just call a few local guys and see...
 
Tim Canton
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L8,

I just mentioned that because it was the last thing I figured out when I did mine..  Dont let it be too intimidating you can do it if you want to.  Just have a plan and improvise when needed.    its physically hard and draining but definitely doable.    Good luck
 
                    
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two strands of a hot wire will keep in pigs.  How many are you planning on keeping?  We kept some and did not run into problems unti DD and SIL moved it by a pond and the pigs just swam across.  After that we let them run with the other critters.  They did just fine. but we only had two and they could not get to anything like gardens. I would meet them with goats in the woods, the goats ate browse and the pigs acorns.  They came running up to me to have their ears scratched. I was glad to get rid of them. Too many critters on this place that want their ears scratched.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Beautiful fence. But a bit of overkill. I keep pigs in with one or two hot wires, sometimes three. Add electric inside your fence on one wire and it will be a lot stronger.
 
Mariah Wallener
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Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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Well, as I said above one side of the paddock is the property boundary and the neighbour is giving us a bunch of cedar posts and a roll of wire. We both (us and the neighbours) want it to look nice and be solid and aesthetically pleasing (i.e. level, not sagging, etc).

Soooo...it looks like we may end up hiring someone to do this part (the one long side - about 150 feet over uneven ground), and then use metal T-posts for the other three sides with some kind of wire that doesn't need to be tightened (or we may just get the pro to put in the other two corner posts properly, use tensioned wire mesh, but use the T-posts in between the corners instead of wood posts).

I've used T-posts around the property and, even with our rocky soil, it's pretty easy to get them in - even me with my little mallet! Hubby and I could probably put up the rest of the fence in a day or two, and it would be much cheaper.
 
Brice Moss
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buy yourself a post pounder
its cheeper than the doctor visit when ya hit your wirst with a sledge

don't ask how I know that one
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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build you a good boundry fence but dont bury the wire.  ive never seen buried wire that stayed nice looking very long.  hogs will still root it up. 

as mentioned just run a couple strands of hot wire.  first couple inches off ground. next one  12 inches from ground.  hogs wont touch it then. 

when running wire on slopes you must cut the wire in sections to match the slopes.  tighten as you go.    just drop you a couple of tempory braces.  on the post your pulling on to tighten wire.  you may brace couple in a row.  a simple 3 inch screw holding the brace against the post with the other end braced against the ground will suffice till you get enuff posts done where thery will support themselves.
 
Mariah Wallener
Posts: 167
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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Thanks, Dead Rabbit. After reading your post I realized I'd never seen it buried either, not sure where we came up with the idea that it needed to be. We hoped if it was far enough down (12 - 18 inches) it would serve as a barrier, as with enough forage our pigs never dug that deep.

Hopefully it won't be a problem as they should have plenty to keep them busy within the paddock (which includes open areas and forested ones with lots of undergrowth). And there isn't anything on the other side of that line of fence except a gravel driveway with some grass alongside it.

We're trying to avoid using hot wire or electrical wire b/c our nearest outlet is far away from the paddock and would require running it across a roadway on our property. Also, there is a lot of vegetation growing around the fenceline and our experience last year was that it caused many shorts in the wire.

I'm wondering about running barbed wire along the bottom to discourage rooting, but two thoughts. First, I wouldn't want the pigs to get injured by stepping on it. Second, the pigs are so dextrous with their snouts that my guess is, if determined, they could just focus their efforts on areas between the barbs. But we have a large roll of the stuff and it would be a cheap and easy alternative.
 
Irene Kightley
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LBBloomer, I wouldn't use barbed wire, your pigs will injure themselves.

We've buried wire netting for more than 50 acres using a mini-digger to dig even in very rocky earth but that is for wild boar and although we'll also use electricity the fence is a sure way of ensure their security.  That's an extreme case though and it's a legal requirement here for people who create wild life parks.



We use just electricity for our domestic pigs though and the battery is charged by a solar panel which we fitted to a shed roof because it's a hassle to carry the battery up to the house to charge it. It's a cheap and cheerful system but works really well and although there's a lot of growth under the single wire the current stays strong because the battery doesn't run down.



Why not have a pretty fence and a couple of rows of wire - your pigs will be fine with that.



 
T. Pierce
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Location: Virginia
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the solor powered idea is a good one. i know a couple guys that use them. they say they dont "hit" as hard as a electrical box but a hog is smart. he wont test it to much.

id say digging and buring is alot of hard work even with a rented piece of machinery plus you have that cost too. 
 
John Polk
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Electric fences can be hazardous to your breeding stock:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqjtz3rEPG0&NR=1
 
                  
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Organick is spot on with everything he has said as far as how to do what you asked. I would only add one suggestion usually for a fence post you go at least 2'down and that means for a 6' fence you need at least an 8' post in a 2' hole. Personally I like to set posts deeper so for the same 6' fence I would use a longer post especially for hogs or other large farm animals. If you think about it the deeper you set a post the harder it is to uproot it by pushing or rubbing on it and that will happen. You still need to consider this with your fencing is going say 18" deep underground you will need to set the 8' post in a 3' 6" deep hole putting the bottom of the post 2' below the bottom of the fence. This is how you will be able to set a post and tension your fence in the trench because regardless of how deep the bottom of your fence is your post will still be set deeper than that. Also since you are putting some of the fence underground going up and down slopes is simplified a bit more than just following the ground contour because you can set some say 2' deep if necessary because the slope is steeper than the fence allows you to follow.
 
Jose Reymondez
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How many Megajoules should the charger be for pigs?
 
Walter Jeffries
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2.5 Joules (not MegaJoules) is the minimum I would recommend.
6 Joules is the minimum I like
15 Joules is my preferred energizer power but this can burn out some poorly made netting type fences.

Kencove and Tractor Supply both sell a good one. Made by the same company Zareba:

http://www.kencove.com/fence/Mains+Energizers_detail_EK15.php

That is the 15 Joule model. They come in smaller power. The cost difference is minor.

It is key to train the animals to electric using an area that is also well physically fenced outside the electric fencing.

See:

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/tag/fencing/
 
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