Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Netting: single spike or double spike posts?

Single Spike—post stake consists of one spike (left post).
Double Spike—post stake consists of two spikes (right post).

Which one to use, and when:

Single spike is best used when netting is moved frequently or in dry/hard soils.
  •  In dry soils it is often difficult to insert one (let alone two) stakes into the ground. Often there is a crack in the ground that a single stake can be inserted.
  • The single spike enables the post to be quickly pulled out of the ground so the net can be reset.  
  • Easy to take down and store. 

Double spike nets are best when the netting is not to be frequently moved, the ground is soft or the installer prefers a step-in post.
  • The crosspiece on the double spike enables the post to be “stepped-in.” This action reduces the hand/arm strength needed to insert the post. 
  • Do not pound on the stake with a hammer in order to insert it into the ground. It is not designed for this. 
  • Added stability in loose soils. 
  • Can be hard to pull out.
  • Harder to take down and store (spikes are easy to tangle).
What is our experience with SS or DS? Many of the nets that we use on the farms are single spike nets. We frequently move netting (unless it is PermaNet) and have dry soils in the summer. So single spike nets are more practical for our fencing needs. 

My main experience with double spike occurred a summer ago while fencing a cattle pasture. I was attempting to install some double-spike netting shortly after a week of 100° heat and no rain for the last month. The ground was hard and dry and the posts refused to go into the ground. Frustrated, I went for my hammer and began to pound directly on the cross piece of the stake. The ground continued to resist. By the time I “finished”, the stakes were less than 3" into the ground and bent beyond usefulness (the stakes are meant to be stepped-in, not hit with a hammer). The proper move would have been to use either single spike posts or drill pilot holes for each stake. 

However, in the Spring when the ground is moist, I prefer to use double spikes for a semi-permanent poultry enclosure. The spikes provide added stability and step into the ground easily. Functionality depends on the specific fencing situation.

What do our customers prefer to use? Right now 2/3 of the ElectroNet that goes out our door is single spiked. However, double spike netting is becoming more and more popular and the gap between the two is shrinking. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cold Weather Shepherding tips

It’s December which means winter—in theory—will be here soon. Currently it is 66° in Washington, IA but that could change to 10° in an instant (after all, it is Iowa weather). Here are a few tips for dealing with the highly anticipated cold weather.

  • Gordon Shelangoski (Premier product consultant and shepherd) utilizes molasses tubs as a supplement to his stockpiled forage. The added energy provides what the late season forage can't. Gordon can graze his ewes longer without having to provide stored feed. Purchasing a few tubs pencils out to being more cost efficient for Gordon than buying in hay. If you choose to try molasses tubs, make sure they are formulated for sheep specifically. Non-sheep specific tubs have high copper levels which leads to copper toxicity in sheep. 
  • Make sure the water supply is winter ready. Add tank heaters and know your protocol for frozen tanks and hydrants. Water is especially important during late gestation and lactation.
  • If you buy-in feed, make sure it is either on your farm or at least spoken for. Searching for hay in mid-winter is not going to be the most cost effective means of procuring feed.
  • Machinery needs to be in good repair and ready to run in the winter. If you run a diesel, make sure to have winter blended fuel or at least a bottle of anti-gel additive. 
  • Temporary fencing that will not be used during the winter needs to be picked up and stored. This reduces the chances of it being damaged by snow, ice and animals.
  • Fences that will be in use throughout the winter need to be functional. Go through and remove overgrowth/fallen limbs that may reduce the strength of the pulse going through the netting. If you have a fence that can be modified into pos/neg, do so. This will allow the fence to function better with deep snow.
  • If your winter plans involve lambing, make sure the lambing barn/area is cleaned and ready to handle sheep. Set up lambing jugs and pens ahead of time. 
  • Make sure your lambing kit is ready. You do not want to be out of teats for bucket teat units when you have orphan lambs. Being prepared ahead of time saves a trip to town when you need to be treating a ewe or lamb.