MORE & MORE USE PORTABLE FENCES
FENCE the sheep and not the farm. That is the advice of electric fencing manufacturer James Ridley who says more sheep farmers are switching to portable fencing systems as part of flock management.
The upturn in store lamb prices at the start of the year led to a marked increase in the demand for electric fencing, reports Mr Ridley of Rappa Fencing, Stockbridge, Hants. However, he believes there are signs that more radical changes within the sheep sector are attracting new converts to portable methods of stock control.
"Unfortunately, many flocks have been cutting back on shepherds leaving less labour to look after more sheep. Electric fencing, particularly systems incorporating ATV-mounted equipment to make moving fences easier, is seen as a labour saving system enabling a reduced labour force to achieve more in terms of flock management."
While electric netting to control sheep is not as popular as it was when introduced in the mid-1980s, three-strand systems are providing an adaptable system now demanded by sheep producers, particularly those relying on rented grazing away from home.
"If this years prices encourage more store lamb finishers to be involved again next season, and they can negotiate a fair price for grass keep on dairy farms, we expect to see a big demand for electric fence systems next winter.
"Portable fencing is also being recognised as an aid to effective grazing management of breeding ewe flocks where grass is part of an arable rotation.
"As margins tighten in all sectors it makes sense to fence the stock and not the farm, especially where there is a two-year grass ley, which needs to be grazed as part of an arable rotation," says Mr Ridley. *
Flocks cutting back on labour have found ATV-mounted fencing equipment makes moving fences easier and saves on labour.