Pasture Pigs and Kencove Fence

Working with Hogs and Kencove Farm Fence Supplies

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Pigs are content searching for morsels inside their new paddock, even with the feed right next to them.

As a new farmer with a full-time “in-town” job, I know that when it comes to managing my livestock and acreage I need a simple, yet effective fencing setup.  Using a combination of permanent and temporary electric fencing, I can rotate my pigs over the pasture, eliminate overgrazing, and ensure that my neighbors rest easy knowing that a ravenous horde of hogs is not descending upon their heirloom tomatoes.  The electric fencing products offered by Kencove work well, and the ease of putting in and taking out temporary fencing affords me the time to focus on other aspects of my small farm, like direct marketing these 20 piggers!

Energizers: The Foundation of a Reliable Electric Fence System

It all starts with how you set up your energizer.  There are corners that can be cut with electric fencing, and believe me, I cut just about every one, but when it comes to my fence charger, I follow the rules and then some.  I want to know that when I leave the property my fencer keeps on clicking and that my fence is good and hot when I get back.

I use a Stafix 3-Joule Dual-Purpose Charger for my system.  When discussing fence supplies, I always recommend folks go with Stafix if it is in their budget.  The New Zealand-built charger is arguably the best charger on the market, and the price of the 1, 2, and 3-joule models is only a little higher than many similar-sized chargers. Kencove also offers a 3-joule, dual-purpose unit for 25% less than the Stafix model, as well as a wide range of other energizer options.

Stafix 3 Joule Dual Purpose – $229.75
Kencove 3 Joule Dual Purpose – $167.75

Unfortunately, as you start getting into the larger units, the Stafix chargers are significantly more expensive.  The 12-Joule Stafix unit is almost four times the cost of our 13-Joule Kencove energizer, so that cost can be a little prohibitive.  Fortunately, for those with tight budgets and many miles of fencing, the Kencove chargers are very high-quality units.  I liken the Kencove and Stafix brands to Cadillacs and Mercedes Benzes.  And that’s like a Mercedes Benz diesel, you know, the ones that have a million miles on them.

For grounding systems, we recommend three ground rods spaced 10’ apart, but I’ve driven five rods just to be sure.  I am going to move my charger very soon, so I’ve left part of my ground rods exposed.  I simply flag my ground rods to avoid any flat tires or tripping over them.

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Pigs drink water out of the creek in a neat and orderly fashion.

Out to Pasture: Function Over Form, For Sure

I run two strands of semi-permanent 14-gauge wire along my pasture’s perimeter. Semi-permanent is the key here.  My lease is still short-term as of right now, so I must have an exit strategy in mind should the owners rescind the lease (I don’t think I smell that bad, but time will tell).  Sure, it would be a pain to take up my fence, but in less than a day I can pull up all my fiberglass posts, reel up the wire, and leave the property just as I found it.  I’ve been pleased with the performance of both the ⅜” and ½ the fiberglass posts.  I can use the ½” posts effectively for slight turns, and I even turn a sharp corner with a few of them.  Once again, the semi-permanent nature of the fence means that I am willing to go out there and make fencing adjustments throughout the year, as my lines are not perfectly straight and fiberglass corners do start to lean.  If I’m satisfied with the layout of the fence next spring, I will probably replace some of my corners with stronger wood posts.

Polywire for the Win… and Maximum Flexibility

If you look at the map of the pasture, you’ll notice I only have the high-tensile wire running along one side of the property.  I use polywire and step-in posts to create the other three sides of each paddock.  This is my first rotation over the property, so I did not want to install any heavy fencing only to discover I wanted the fence in a different spot a few months later.  As I progressively walk by each portion of creekside and woodland edge, my understanding of the land increases.  I see where the wet spots are for wallows, I’ll notice a mature white oak developing a bumper crop of acorns; I want to make sure my fencing system is flexible so I can capitalize on what the land provides.

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I am a big fan of the braided electric twine.  This Irish-made product lasts longer than the standard electric twine.  The standard twine is simply twisted together.  This is problematic when you’re cutting and tying the twine to a gate hook or another length of polywire.   I remember as a as a child when my shoe laces started to wear out.  You know, the little plastic end comes off the lace, and you work yourself into a little kid tantrum trying to relace your shoes. That’s why I buy the braided electric twine.  9 stainless-steel conductors or 6 stainless-steel and 3 tinned-copper conductors.  My customer split is about 50/50 between the two options.  You won’t go wrong with either of them.

blog-pp3It is important to note that with pigs, electric fence, especially polywire, is truly no more than a psychological barrier.  My pigs respect the two strands unless they are without one of the four pig necessities: shade, water, a wallow in warm weather, and food. I’ve had a couple of mini-jailbreaks out there, but fortunately the escapees are more upset about being separated from the pack than excited about their freedom.  I check my fence and my animals on a daily basis, and though my pigs respect the fence the vast majority of the time, it is important to inspect what you expect.

As far as step-in posts are concerned, I have moved to the O’Brien’s Treadline Posts this year.  In the past I had used the Kencove Step-Ins and had good success.  However, over time I would occasionally lose some of the clips due to wear and tear. This isn’t a terribly big deal because each post has a dozen clips, but I get a call about once a month from folks that want to order more O’Brien’s posts, and they do not run into the same problem.  When I ask them why they’re getting the O’Brien’s over the less expensive step-ins, these customers each say pretty much the same thing. They’ve had the posts for 10+ years, and none of them have broken. When you hear that vote of confidence once a month, you bite the bullet and buy the more expensive post.  But wait! A caveat!  I would only buy the O’Briens if it’s in the budget.  I was still very pleased with the performance of the less expensive posts. I used those posts on a daily basis for multiple years and found them to be completely functional. I would not hesitate to buy the Kencove posts. At the end of the day, $82 (the price difference between the two) is still a whole lot of cashola.
Reels!  We’ve got to talk about reels!  This system I’m working with deals with relatively short runs.  For the most part, I’m paying out about 400’ of wire at a time.  I’ve been using the Mini-Reels with great success this year.  Super cheap, very functional, and so far, very durable. I used cheaper alternatives in the past and got about a year out of them before the sun degraded the plastic.  I’m not seeing the color fading in my mini-reels, so they appear to be holding up well.  In my experience, the cheaper reels start to fade within a month, and by 6 months an inadvertent drop could very well crack or even shatter the brittle plastic.  So for all you frugal folks out there, mini-reels are the way to go.

 

Getting Fancy With It: Training Pens and Limited Creek Access

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In the training pen – note the two polywire strands in front of the woven wire.

It would be convenient if piglets respected electric fence right from the get go, but alas, sometimes things aren’t that straightforward.

Getting pigs to volunteer to cross a gap in the polywire is a lesson in patience.

Getting pigs to volunteer to cross a gap in the polywire is a lesson in patience.

Though the farm the piglets came from used electric fence, my pigs still needed to be trained to the hot wire upon their arrival.

 

As stated earlier, electric fence is just a psychological barrier.  In order for the animal to respect that barrier, a brief training period with a combination of psychological and physical fencing is required.  I ran two strands of polywire along the inside of a woven wire fence.  This prevents the pig (or cow, or goat, or sheep, etc.) from jumping forward after receiving the initial shock from the hotwire.  A week in the training pen was enough for my pigs, but more time may be necessary.  Each electric fence system is a unique snowflake.

Pigs drink water out of the creek in a neat and orderly fashion because getting shocked when your feet are wet is no fun.

Pigs drink water out of the creek in a neat and orderly fashion because getting shocked when your feet are wet is no fun.

Definitely one of my favorite things about the temporary electric fencing is the ability to grant limited access to watering points.  Erosion is a big concern around creeks, and even more so with hogs.  I am extremely pleased that I’ve been able to set up a two-strand alley into a sliver of the creek.  The pigs have just enough room to get into the creek, fill their bellies with water and scoot on out.  Believe it or not, pigs standing in running water are very well grounded, so there is no horsing around in the creek.  Impact and erosion is limited and the pigs use the water source solely for drinking.

 And Finally: The Most Important Unnecessary Electric Fencing Tool

 

Own a voltmeter.  It’s got to be one that can read multiple kilovolts, so multimeters won’t cut it.  We sell voltmeters ranging from inexpensive to expensive.  I’m a big fan of our digital voltmeter.  It gives me a precise reading on the fence, is priced reasonably, and is reliable. The important point here is that if you’re working with electric fence, you’re going to troubleshoot your electric fence at some point, and knowing the kilovolt output from your charger and your fence is critical to diagnosing your fence’s problem. So don’t forget to buy a voltmeter!

My electric fencing system allows me to raise pastured pigs without the time and capital needed to install a permanent fence.  This system is effective and also allows me to better utilize and rest my pastures while ensuring that my hogs have everything they need to be happy and content in each paddock.  This is a system that works for me.  Each farm is different and has different goals and needs, but the electric fencing products from Kencove will work to help you meet those goals.

It’s a rough life being a pig on pasture.

It’s a rough life being a pig on pasture.

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2 Comments

  1. Mike Foate
    Posted September 1, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Howdy, I know this is an old post but I wanted to ask…We have piglets we are trying to graduate to the pasture. Currently we have them in a pen with a house that we shut them in at night. We are concern about predation from animals like coyotes.

    We would like to train them to electric wire. However, we are concerned about a predator getting over the wire and in with them at night. So, we thought maybe the netting might be a better choice.

    Do you not worry about predation?
    Can you give us your thoughts on the matter and at what size does a pig needs to be before predation might no longer be a concern?
    Thank you, Mike

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted September 5, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Mike, our recommendation for a permanent enclosure, where you would house your pigs during the night, would be woven wire with electric wire offsets. You will want to run an offset at the bottom of the wire on the inside to keep the pigs from rooting under the fence. You will also want to run 2 hot wires on the outside of the woven wire. Depending on the predators in your area, you will vary the offsets on the outside about 6” from the bottom of the fence and the other at 18” from the bottom of the fence.
      Kencove Electric Netting is great for rotational grazing and allowing your pigs to move through areas that you would not want a permanent fence. Although you can keep your pigs out in electric netting all day and night, if you have a heavy predator presence, it may be in the best interest to keep your pigs in a more sturdy enclosure during the night. For the most part, once pigs hit 40 to 50 pounds, they should be safe from most small and medium sized predators. The electric netting is designed to contain animals and exclude predators, however, it is not a permanent fence. If you have additional questions feel free to give our product specialists a call. We are more than happy to answer more in-depth questions. We can be reached at 1-800-536-2683.

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