When Dan Specht travelled to New Zealand last spring, he saw a real familiar sight – miles and miles of high-tensile fencing, the very kind he uses on his farm near McGregor, Iowa. High-tensile wire is resistant to stretching and sagging. So it takes half the number of fence posts, because they're placed twice as far apart as those used in conventional electric fencing.
Skeleton and fingers
But the high-tensile section is only a part of Specht's overall hardworking system. It serves as the framework. He can extend his power fencing all throughout his property by tapping into the hot wire in the high-tensile skeleton with temporary fencing materials. With 108 yearling organic beef cattle grazing on about 120 acres in paddocks sized to feed them for three to four days, Specht needed a way to move the herd around easily. With the lightweight, fiberglass posts and a reel loaded with polywire, moving the fence is easy and fast.
"You can fence off a quarter mile just as quick as you can walk it," Specht contends. The posts are about 30 feet apart. There are fiberglass post clips on each post for the single strand of polywire. This, of course makes the fence height adjustable. He does have sows, too, so that feature comes in handy. Specht says this type of intensive grazing works well for them, as long as the sows have nose rings to prevent them from rooting.
In drier conditions, he uses a HD Pigtail Treadin with a sharp, pointed end for better penetration into the harder ground. These posts have a curly que at the top to loop the wire under.
Make way for hay
Although Specht would rather harvest forage by grazing, he sometimes must cut grass for hay to control the flush of growth that is common in spring. This temporary fencing is advantageous at these times because "then if you want to make hay, your land isn't all divided up," he says.
Gallagher North America of Kansas City, Missouri distributes an ultra-light polywire that runs $34 for a 1,640 foot roll. One reason Specht likes this particular product is for its white color, which gives it high visibility against green grass, even in low light. The high-tensile backbone of his system has steel fence posts with plastic insulators. Since the wire stays taut, he can place these posts about 45 feet apart. He says the posts are inexpensive, and the 12.5 gauge wire hi-tensile costs approximately $55 for 4,000 feet
Specht lives near his grazing land, so instead of using battery chargers as a power source, he plugs right into his rural electric service. The deer in his area seem to understand the fence, Specht says, and either goes over, under, or around it. He hasn't had any problems with deer damaging the fence. However, he did roll a round bale over the fence once. "I only had to replace one post and then tension the in-line strainer," he remembers. (Strainers are built-in devices that crank to tighten, or tension, the wire.)
It's a simple repair," he says. "The key to using the high-tensile wire is being able to splice it without making a kink." Specht says he prefers tying it off with a splice resembling a square knot instead of using the equi-fence joiner sold for this purpose. This style of fencing actually originated in New Zealand, where natural resources are few. Farmers there mainly graze sheep and operate dairy farms. "The whole country is fenced for sheep," says Specht.
Paula Barbour, Successful Farming Magazine Content Specialist, Successful Farming, 2001