Giving Thanks to a Bountiful Year
There's a lot to be thankful for on Wild Pasture Farm. Owner/operators Susan teBogt and Fabian Hamilton enjoy continued growth and success in their diversified business raising all natural beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey.
Part of the farm's growth has been in the area of their seasonal offering of pasture-raised turkeys. teBogt and Hamilton raise one rafter a year – surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday.
"We started with 30 hens last year and doubled our numbers to 60 this year," teBogt says. "Next year we plan on raising 70-80 birds."
teBogt explains they start with day old poults and allow them to brood in the barn for four to six weeks. They then go out to pasture along with a portable shelter. teBogt relies on electric netting and solar energizers to contain the birds in the pasture as well as keep predators out.
"We move the birds every 5-7 days," says teBogt. "The electric netting is so portable and easy to use. In very little time, we can connect two nets to form a square that's about a quarter acre in size."
Ease of use is a large part of the appeal of utilizing electric netting, says Scott Rooney, technical sales and support representative for Gallagher. "The netting has all the posts built in to the product so it truly is as simple as unfolding the net, stepping each post in the ground and connecting the energizer to the fence and ground system."
Training livestock on the electric netting is easy to do and takes little time, says teBogt. She trains the lambs and pigs prior to turning them out in the pasture. For the turkeys and chickens, teBogt says the animals don't go near the netting, so training is not an issue. "The netting acts more of a physical boundary for the poultry," she explains. "It also assists in keeping predators out at night."
Rooney agrees. "The netting definitely serves as a physical barrier for the birds and they don't pressure the wires too much. Predators, on the other hand, will get trained to the fence very quickly. Once they associate the painful feeling of the shock with the net, they will not try to get inside that fence again."
teBogt advises to make sure to keep the net taut. "Try to keep the net very tight," she says. "If it sags, predators can come in, or in my case, the turkeys can get out."
Rooney echoes teBogt's sentiments. "If the net sags, then it will be sitting on the ground, so you need to pull the posts tight when you step them in," he adds. "Also, use the net on flat ground. The net does not work well if it is installed where there are dips and rises."
Lastly, teBogt recommends keeping the fence very hot and making sure you're using the proper energizer for your fence system.
"You can never buy too large of an energizer," says teBogt. "But if you buy one too small then your whole system won't work. So make sure you purchase a large enough energizer."
All of Gallagher's energizers are low impedance, so they are compatible with electric netting, explains Rooney. "Most of the time the netting is installed in a remote area where 110V power is not accessible – such as in the case of Wild Pasture Farm – so a Gallagher solar energizer is recommended for maximum function."
Rooney recommends at least a .8 Joule energizer or larger when used in conjunction with an electric net.
"This would be overkill by looking at the mileage/acreage ratings on the energizer, but the bottom electrified wire is only two inches off the ground so it usually touches quite a bit of grass which will draw the energy out of the fence. The way we compensate for the increased fence load is to use a larger energizer," Rooney explains.
teBogt and Hamilton are already outfitted with a large enough energizer and the proper amount of netting needed to expand their turkey offerings next year. They also plan to grow the beef side of their business as well.
"In the future we'd like to build a store, so our customers may come to the farm and visit," says teBogt. "Until then, we're thankful for our loyal customers and the opportunity to provide them with premium quality products."
For more information about Wild Pasture Farm, please visit: www.wildpasturefarm.net, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: 1 (902) 843-2543. Follow Wild Pasture Farm on Twitter: @Wildpasturefarm.