Bison breaks kept tight with Gallagher S20 Energizer.
There were few farmers at Mystery Creek Fieldays® this year looking for solutions to keeping bison in their grazing break. But for Aaron Gilmore of Hamilton Zoo it was very much all in a day’s work.
Aaron is team leader of the Zoo’s ungulates team, the group responsible for the welfare and care of all hoofed animals at the well-respected wildlife centre.
Aaron found his unusual electric fencing need was answered by the Gallagher team who were more than familiar with the demands his unusual bunch of livestock bring when it comes to keeping them in.
“We have Gallagher equipment throughout the zoo for a number of the animals that need it, including the rhinos and the giraffes and we know the gear works well for us,” he says.
The zoo has had a herd of North American bison, comprising six females and two males, one which is a young bull calf.
Used to a fibrous, tussocky type diet, it is important for Aaron and his team to control the amount of high octane, freshly grown Waikato ryegrass the bison get and their diet needs to be balanced with daily feeds of hay to boost the fibre level.
But the thick skinned, hairy coated bison bring some unique challenges when it comes to managing their strip grazing rotation.
“They need to have three wires across the break, if there are only two they are able to get through the wire without getting an electric shock through their hairy coat.”
Whilst at Mystery Creek Aaron upgraded the zoo’s electric fence unit to a Gallagher S20 solar-battery model, from the previous battery only model.
“The battery model had been good, but of course you always had to check that the batteries were working, and it could be a hassle to find they had died when you were already down in the break.”
Well into the depths of a murky, cloudy winter Aaron has found the S20 has delivered consistent high power through the bisons’ breaks, with its 8kV output and three wire reel fence set up more than sufficient to deter the big animals from breaking through.
“They are generally pretty docile, as long as you have plenty of feed for them. We do try to avoid being in the same paddock as them, and we’ve had no problem with them staying where they should be.”
With bulls growing up to 1 tonne liveweight, it is respect and caution well deserved. Aaron and his team are looking forward to rearing more of the bison and have already supplied some to private operators around the country.
“We have always found the Gallagher equipment can be adjusted to suit the animals we have here, each species brings its own unique challenges when it comes to keeping them in.”