Fencing – How and Where for Small Farms

This field day was about the practical aspects of fencing. Andy Taylor and Shane Laverty from the Rural Landscapes Program, South East Local Land Services discussed the theory of fencing and led a fencing demonstration. Below are five key topics from the day.

Andy Taylor from South East Local Land Services suggesting ways to install a new strainer post
  1. There are some principles for fence design that usually apply. The best fence on the farm should be the boundary fence. When considering gate sizes choose larger gates that Rural Fire Service trucks can fit through – as a standard option choose 12′ (3.6m) wide gates if possible. If you have livestock, hang the gate on one side of the post so the gate can be opened flush with the fence when moving stock and the animals won’t get stuck between the gate and the fence. Gates located in corners usually work best – it is often difficult to get animals to go through a gate in the middle of a straight fence.
  2. The type of fence that you install should be influenced by considerations such type of stock, cost, understanding where the water runs, different soil types, land capability, vegetation and watering points. A property planning field day can help with planning the type and location of fences. In some cases electric fences (permanent or temporary) may be an option.

    Protective gloves and glasses for fencing
    Shane Laverty with protective gloves and safety glasses
  3. Effective personal protection equipment is vital when fencing. This includes gloves, eye protection and protective ear muffs if you are using noisy mechanical equipment (for example when banging in steel posts).
  4. There are many choices for fencing materials. Low tensile wire just keeps on stretching – medium tensile wire is a better option. Hinged joint fencing mesh comes in many sizes. The numbers in the hinged joint mesh name refer to the number of horizontal wires, fence height and distance between the vertical wires. For example, a 6/70/30 hinged joint mesh has 6 line wires, is 70cm high and the vertical wires are 30cm apart – this size suits smaller animals like sheep. A boundary fence might use 8/90/30. Hinged joint mesh has a top and bottom. The side with the smaller gaps is supposed to be closest to the ground. Usually you put plain wire through the steel posts (star pickets to the non farmer) lined up with the top, middle and bottom of the hinged joint mesh and attach the mesh to the wires using fencing clips. Two more wires will usually be run in the space above the mesh. To get the fence height right, bang the steel posts into the ground until the bottom hole is just above the ground.
  5. When repairing fences check the existing strainer posts, stays, steel posts and wire and see what can be salvaged. The most important part of the fence is the end assembly (strainer post and stay) and the most common type are steel. These can be galvanised or black steel and can be purchased as a complete kit.
Fence strainer post and stay with stay block
Strainer post and stay installed with a concrete stay block during the workshop

Resources

South East Local Land Services Rural Living Guide – a comprehensive guide for anyone on the land, lots of useful resources including tips on fencing

Fencing Ag Guide – A practical Guide – available from Tocal College for purchase, has detailed information on building a fence including ends, corners, the law and fencing and more. Costs $25.00 and can be purchased on line.

Land and Property Information website – information on boundary fencing and the law.

Search for online videos for demonstrations of the different knots used for tying fencing wire.

Tying knots in fencing wire

Commercial fencing guides – there are a range of materials online from the major fencing suppliers. Some of these pamphlets were handed out at the workshop. Here is a sample from Waratah Fencing, but you could also try Gallagher or Whites Group Fencing.

This event was made possible by funding supplied by the Australian Government and in kind support from South East Local Land Services. Thank you Mark and Rhonda who hosted the event on their farm and our sponsors the Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability.

 

Cattle Husbandry field day summary

Greg Meaker demonstrating calf marking and basic husbandry

The Cattle Husbandry for Small Farms Field Day was held at DMB Galloways in Sutton on the 29 April 2017. Here is a summary of the key points discussed:

The day was led by Greg Meaker a former educator in beef cattle husbandry and management at Tocal Collage and District Livestock Officer with the NSW Government Industry and Investment, Goulburn. Greg is also owner manager of two working properties in the Gunning district.

  • Before purchasing livestock it is important to decide on what type of operation you want (breeding or growing out), or if you want to purchase livestock to keep your pastures in check. If you are looking at trading livestock there is a wealth of information available on NSW Department of Primary Industries website. http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock  Meat and Livestock Australia https://www.mla.com.au/prices-markets/
  • The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is an important regulatory requirement that all livestock owners need to be aware of. The NLIS system enables livestock to be traced and managed during livestock emergencies such as disease outbreaks. You can view a PDF of the requirements here NEW NLIS Information Booklet
  • Yard weaning- weaners and new stock should be ‘yard weaned’ to teach the young cattle about the yards and being handled. During this time routine worming and husbandry can be performed. Yard weaning makes the cattle more manageable and can improves lifetime weight gains (by 20-30 kilograms) because handling stress is reduced.

See the Yard Weaning and Education article.

  • Low stress cattle management -there are number of guiding principles that can be used to improve cattle performance and ease of handling. Find out more about the theory and practice of low stress cattle management on the  Future Beef website.
  • Calendar of Operations – The South East Local Land Services has published a Beef Calendar of Operations – NSW Coast

When available a Southern Tablelands Calendar of Operations for Cattle will be published on our website.

  • If you are looking at a breeding operation the management of bulls is essential to the productivity of your  herd.  When purchasing or leasing bulls vibriosis testing is an important step to stop the disease from becoming established in your herd.

See the NSW DPI Vibriosis fact sheet.

  • Sudden changes in diet and a poor vaccination regime can cause a disease called pulpy kidney. This disease is caused by Clostridium perfringens type D. This bacteria normally inhabits the intestine of cattle but can become present in large numbers when there are sudden changes to the animals’ diet. For more information and management options see the NSW DPI Enterotoxaemia in cattle fact sheet.
  • Yards based on a tear drop/circular design suit the handling and flow of cattle in the yards. The NSW DPI website has a series of designs suitable for cattle herds under 100 head. See NSW DPI Yards and Equipment for Cattle.
  • NSW DPI Feed cost calculator – this website allows you to compare the cost, protein content and energy of different types of supplementary feeds.

Other fact sheets and contacts that may be useful for cattle owners:

Grass Tetany in Cattle

Agistment Guidelines for Cattle

South East Local Land Services Veterinary Contacts

Thank you to our hosts Dianne and Mark from DMB Galloways for providing a great venue and helping with planning the workshop.

This field day was made possible by funding from the Australian Government. In-kind and volunteer support from South East Local Land Services, the Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability and the ACT Regional Landcare Facilitator. We thank them all for their ongoing contribution to this project.

Small Farm Walk ‘n Talk

A group of new and prospective small farm owners gathered in November 2015 for the first field day for the Small Farms Network – Capital Region. The Small Farm Walk ‘n Talk was a friendly and information rich day held in Rossi on a small farm that has a mix of grazing land and native bush. Continue reading “Small Farm Walk ‘n Talk”

Sheep Husbandry Field Day 2016

The Small Farms Network – Capital Region hosted a hands-on Sheep Husbandry Field Day on the 23rd July 2016. The field day was hosted by the Silver Wattle Quaker Centre, Bungendore and was packed with information about the management and care of sheep. Continue reading “Sheep Husbandry Field Day 2016”

Fodder on farms – so much more than grass

Dr Dean Revell from Revell Science in Western Australia was the keynote speaker at the Fodder Trees and Shrubs for Grazing Systems field day hosted by the Small Farms Network – Capital Region in Bywong on 17 April. Over 35 farmers attended to learn about how native fodder trees and shrubs can be incorporated into livestock systems. Continue reading “Fodder on farms – so much more than grass”