Over the last couple of years, the use of exclusion fencing has risen substantially.
The implementation of exclusion fencing has proven to be a valuable investment for cattle and sheep producers seeking to protect their stock and feed.
So how can an exclusion fence help you?
In this guide, we show you how exclusion fencing can help you increase your bottom line.
Why Should You Consider Exclusion Fencing?
Greatly Reduce The Impact Of Wild Dogs, Pigs & Other Predators
One dog can decimate a herd of sheep. A big boar can go through 10-12 lambs in a day. With a solid baiting program, trapping, and exclusion fencing you can greatly reduce attacks from these wild predators. An added benefit is the protection of local wildlife.
Reduction In Overgrazing & Improvement In Pastures
Exclusion fencing helps reduce kangaroo pressure and overgrazing. As a result, you will have more feed to last through the season.
You Can Breed More Animals
Due to the reduction in predators, and improvement in pastures many farmers have seen lambing and calving percentages go up. Many people have reported improvements from 10% to 20% lamb survival rates to getting around 80% to 90% in lamb survival. As a result, you can be more selective with your ewe and cow breeding stock.
Reduction In Weeds & Disease
Many foreign weed seeds and diseases make their way onto your property via wild animals. By implementing a solid exclusion fencing system, you can reduce foreign weeds and diseases causing havoc on your property. Exclusion fencing makes weed and disease management a lot easier. With it, you just have to focus on what is already on your property, instead of worrying about more being introduced.
Makes Your Property More Manageable
If you put a strong and reliable fence up, it’s going to make the managing of your property much easier. You won’t have to worry about predators and foreign weeds making their way on your property.
While it may be a big capital expenditure at first, the resulting increase in animal breeding, health and pasture improvements mean your fence pays dividends over time. It is a solid investment that allows you to sleep at night.
Preparation: Before You Start Your Fence
Cluster Groups To Share The Burden
Are you going it alone? If you are looking to save money and time, consider creating a cluster group with your neighbours.
A cluster group is a group of individual property owners and advisors that work together to control the movement of predators and pests. These groups create real profit by allowing the stakeholders to share both the benefits as well as the monetary and labour burdens.
Here is a great video that outlines what is involved with a Cluster Group
Even if you aren’t interested in joining a cluster, it is a good idea to notify your neighbours of your intentions. It’s always good to be on the same page – it can create friction if you’re not.
Are You Eligible For Government Grants?
Many states throughout Australia offer support for farmers to control the spread of feral animals and pests.
For example, Queensland has its Feral Pest Initiative where it offers funding to eligible organisations. You can find more information about it on the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website.
Figure Out What Is The Best Fence Designs For Your Needs
To work out what you need you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to keep out predators or prevent stock from escaping?
- Will the primary pressure be over, under or through your fence?
- What type of terrain will your fence cover?
- What type of soil will your fence sit on?
- Where will you place access points?
- Are there any watercourses that may interfere with your fence line?
Using this information, you will need to determine the appropriate height of the fence, type of wire and the layout of your fence.
Get around and see as many other fences as possible before starting. Speak to people in the industry, neighbours who have built exclusion fences previously, local fencing representative and different fence designs to make sure you're building the right type of fence for your needs.
Make Sure You Have The Right Equipment
Once you have figured out what needs to be done, you need to make sure you have the right machinery to build your fence. You will be dealing with a large number of fence posts and heavy rolls of wire. You want to make sure you’re prepared. If you don’t have the right machinery, use a fencing contractor.
Set Your Budget
A cost-benefit analysis will help you calculate whether it’s a worthy investment for your property. Take the time and plan for different the factors mentioned above.
Exclusion Fencing is an excellent investment, but an expensive one. A fence can often cost between $5000 and $7000 per kilometre.
Choosing Your Fence Wire
Different Types Of Wire Available
There are a variety of wire and netting options; each serves a different purpose
- Mesh Netting: There are many prefabricated designs that are quick to erect and act as a physical barrier between feral animals and your stock.
- Barb Wire: Sharp barbs will help deter dogs, pigs and kangaroos. It can also act as a deterrent if stock pushes up against the fence to test it.
- High Tensile Wire: This will be something you will need to consider if your fence will span over waterways (more below)
Mesh is usually 1.5 to 1.8 meters in height. Many farmers recommend at least a 1.5m mesh with a top barb.
The first choice for any wild animal is to try digging under your fence. Skirting is designed to stop animals from digging underneath, particularly kangaroos and wild dogs.
You can bury the skirting if it is galvanised, or you can use a hinged apron at a 90-degree angle that is tensioned down.
Strainer Posts & End Assemblies
In general, strainer posts and stays are the backbones to your fence. A strong strainer means a strong fence.
Due to the extra height and strain of exclusion fencing the strainer posts and stays need to be stronger and longer to accommodate these needs.
Standard fence strainer posts are approximately 1.2 metres above the ground. For exclusion fences, you will need a strainer post closer to 1.5 - 1.8 metres above the ground depending on the desired height of your fence.
Strainer posts will also need extra length below ground to support the extra weight. A good rule of thumb is to have the same length in the ground as there is above the ground.
Exclusion fencing often covers tough rocky ground. You will need a post that is easier to knock in than a standard round post.And lastly, taller strainer posts need to be stronger. As the length increases, you will need thicker posts. A recommended thickness for strainer posts is 4.5mm.
A fact often overlooked with stays is that they need to be longer for the higher strainer posts. A 3-metre stay for an exclusion fence post is not long enough. It’s too low on the post and will push the strainer post out of the ground. We recommend a minimum of 3.6 metres for your exclusion fence stay.
As a stay gets longer, it also becomes weaker. To overcome this, you will need a thicker stay. We recommended a 50NB stay to gain the strength needed.
Versatility & Longevity
Consider getting an end assembly system where you can adjust the height and angle of the stay on the strainer post. This is particularly useful when dealing with uneven ground. When the stay height is fixed, the end assembly might not be supported properly and will result in a weaker fence.
An end assembly that allows you to adjust the angle of the stay around the post will also help keep unwanted predators out. This flexibility allows the stay to be right up beside the fence so it can’t be climbed. This added flexibly also helps support corner posts no matter what angle the corner is at.
As the ground moves, and the fence expands and retracts over time, it is important to maintain the tension of your fence continuously. A fully adjustable end assembly will allow you to make adjustments over time and easily put tension into the fence and on the strainer.To ensure the longevity of your fence, consider galvanised strainer posts and stays. Exclusion Fencing is already a big investment, so it is important that it lasts as long as possible. Hot dip galvanised end assemblies ensure your steel fence line will last longer.
How To Install An Exclusion Fence
Prepare The Ground
Before you even knock in the first post, it is important to grade and clear the area near the designated fence line. If you have an existing fence line, you will want to leave a good amount of space between the old fence and new fence or remove the old fence altogether.
Clearing and grading the fence line will help to make ongoing maintenance as easy as possible. It also allows ample room for any apron you wish to include with the fence.
Some farmers recommend that the fence line sits on higher ground. This can be done by grading a camber up to each side the fence. This technique makes a large difference to the longevity of the fence, particularly when you have instances of heavy rainfall and erosion.
Install Your Strainer Posts And Stays
Considering the spacing of your fence posts? For an in-depth guide to spacing your fence posts, you can read our fence post spacing guide here.
Take your time planning and spacing your fence posts. Taking shortcuts and trying to use fewer materials will result in a weaker fence and lower the effectiveness of the fence.
For exclusion fencing, 6 to 7 metres is a good distance between posts. For fencing that will likely take a beating from larger cattle, consider spacing your posts closer together.
Rolling Out Your Wire
When rolling out the wire, many farmers opt to do it off the back of a truck or trailer.
If you have the equipment to do so, roll the wire netting out vertically. It rolls out better, strains better, and is a lot easier on manpower.
If you do choose to roll the netting out horizontally, roll it out with the loose wire on top, not on the bottom (the easier way). By rolling the wire out over the top of the roll, the wire is less likely to accidentally roll back up when you get to the end of the roll without realising. Instead, it will catch itself in the ground.
If you fence has an apron, make sure it has a slight fall. Aprons have a tendency to kick up. A slight fall and correct straining will ensure that your apron will remain flat.
Tension and Straining
When tensioning the fence, take into account the movement of the wire due to changes in temperature and the weight of livestock.
If you overstrain your fences, then you don’t allow flexibility in the fence to absorb these pressures. This can often result in breaks.
Judging when you have the correct tension can be tricky, but here is a quick tip that can help.
With prefabricated wire, take note of the crimp shapes on the horizontal wires. When the crimp is half flattened, then the wire tension should be sufficient.
If no crimp can be seen, then the tension in the wire is too high and needs to be loosened.
Exclusion Fencing Through Waterways
If fencing across a waterway cannot be avoided, it is best to create a separate section of fence that stretches across.
When you reach a waterway, you will need to stop your fence with a double fence assembly. This keeps the main fence separate from the fence over the waterway. If or when your fence washes away in a flood, it won’t impact the rest of your fence.
If you do choose to install a hanging fence, you will need a high tensile wire to support the additional weight.
Many farms use a suspending hanging fence to cross streams and gullies. This section is capable of swinging up when there is significant water flow. This system means that the fence is less likely to collect debris as the flood waters pass through, reducing the chance of your fence being washed away.
You can find more information on fencing waterways here.
Putting up your fence is just the beginning. After you have erected your fence, look for pressure points and fix those as soon as possible, before issues arise. This will ensure its effectiveness over time.
Now that your fence is up, a solid baiting program and effective trapping will be fundamental in increasing the gains as a result of your exclusion fence.
Thinking of erecting an exclusion fence?
Header image by Dannebrog