Monday, December 14, 2015

Big Bale Feeders

For those that are breaking out their round bales for winter feeding, here are a few tips when it comes to using Premier's Big Bale Feeders.

  • We find 4 ft diameter bales to be optimal. 5ft and larger bales leave a core in the center of the feeder (sheep can't reach that far). This core needs to be knocked down by the shepherd. We find the added materials (twine, net, wrap) needed to make smaller bales are offset by the convenience and ease of handling. 
  • Remember, these are meant for polled (hornless) sheep and goats. We advise against their use with horned animals and livestock larger than sheep/goats. 
  • Do not attempt to lift the panels out of frozen soil with a tractor. This is an excellent way to break welds and bend rods. 
  • No more than 8 ewes per panel. Overcrowding leads to injuries. 
  • Don't turn out starving livestock with the feeders. Hungry sheep are aggressive sheep. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A quick poultry feeder hint

Large cone feeders, finely ground poultry feeds and humid environments do not mix. 
Here's why: 
  1. Fine feeds are easily compacted when pressure is applied
  2. A full feeder puts pressure on the feed at the bottom—this compacts the feed. 
  3. Moisture in the air further aids the binding/compaction of fine feeds. When dried, the result is the chicken feed equivalent of concrete.  
What to do? 
  • Feed coarsely ground feeds in humid seasons (be sure to provide supplemental grit). 
  • If continuing with finely ground feeds, use smaller feeders (for less pressure). 
  • If the feeder can be adjusted, set the feed flow for a faster rate. This will allow fine feed to flow easier when humid. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Electric fence…what happens

What happens when grass touches energized fence wires?
Think of the wires as pressurized with excess electrons from the energizer's pulse. 
Green vegetation is a conductor—particularly when wet. When it contacts and energized wire, energy is pushed through the moisture in the stem into the soil. This is often called a "leak" (similar to a hole in a water hose) or a "short." 
In short—grass leaks electrons from the fence. However, if the energizer's pulse (joules output) is large enough, it can cope with the loss due to grass contact (overcoming weed-load). 

What happens when an animal touches the energized wires?
The high voltage of the pulse pushes electrons through the animal's point of contact (often nose or ears) then through the body's tissue and fluids and out through the feet/hooves/paws into the soil moisture. 

Is the animal's weight a factor?
The weight of a heavy animal compresses the soil. This reduces electrical resistance of the soil and increases the joules that can flow through the animal. 
This explains why heavy animals are more affected by electric fence and light animals less so. 
Weight (or the lack of it) explains in part why calves and lambs will seem to be less affected by a pulse than adult cows and ewes. 

Which species are most affected by an electric fence pulse?
In order from most to least: pigs, horses, cattle, canines (wet noses, bare pads) raccoons, sheep, goats, deer, geese, chickens and rabbits. 
This assumes a low-impedance energizer was used and adult animals are contacting the fence with their nose, beak or paw. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Electric Fence Pulse

A pulse from an electric fence energizer lasts less than 3/10,000 of a second. The pulse's strength can reach up to 10,000 volts. That sounds extreme but static electricity is often as much as 25,000 volts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What exactly is a fence energizer?

It is simply a box that takes in small amounts of electrical energy from an outside source (battery or 110v outlet).
The energizer pushes this energy from the outbound (positive, fence) terminal in very brief, high voltage and high amperage pulses, The ground terminal's (negative, earth) purpose is to absorb as much of the pulse energy as possible back into the energizer. 

An electric fence is the extension of these two terminals (fence and ground/earth).  
The inbound terminal is extended by driving metal rods (ground rods) into the soil and connecting them to the earth terminal with conductive wires to it. 

The outbound terminal is extended by attaching conductive wires to it. They are suspended above the soil and kept separate from the soil by insulators and/or nonconductive posts. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How an electric fence works

Well, how does an electric fence work?
  1. The fence energizer sends an electric pulse through its positive terminal to the fence. 
  2. The fence then carries this pulse until an animal comes in contact with the fence. 
  3. The pulse travels through the animal and into the soil/ground. 
  4. The pulse is then absorbed from the soil back into the energizer via the ground rod system. 
So where do the terms joules, voltage and ohms come into play?
  • Joules is the volume of electrical energy in a pulse (think gallons, pints etc. in water systems). 
  • Voltage is the measure of pressure upon the pulse to move from A to B (similar to PSI in air and water systems).
  • Ohms is the resistance to electrical flow (constrictions in these systems). Higher ohms reduce the felt pulse.   
Points to consider:
For a fence to be effective, we suggest a minimum of 3000 volts. This means the fence needs to have reasonable high pressure (voltage). But that's just half of it. The other half being the size of the pulse, which is measured in joules (read as released, not stored, on fence energizers).

High pressure (volts) behind a large pulse (joules) results in a deterring shock when the fence is touched by an animal. The smaller the joule (output) the smaller the potential shock and vice versa. Also, the lower the voltage the smaller the felt pulse.

If bigger is better (or so it seems), why do we recommend .5 joule units?
For fences with low resistance (ohms) and have high voltage (at least 3000v), a .5 joule energizer is enough to deter animals. Longer fences with more resistance need more joules in order for pulse to be felt. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Announcing Premier's Gift Section

Silence the room with the perfect gift!

There's a chill in the air. And for those who delight in discovery, that means the gift giving season is officially upon us. We know you’re always searching for that special something—that unique, handcrafted item with a great story. In that spirit, enjoy this collection of thoughtful and distinctive gifts, sourced directly from the craftsman—just in time for the holiday season

Items include:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Fall Grazing Tips

This sight will be common within days. 

Think of each blade of grass as a solar panel. The panel charges the plant's growth. In fall, with less light available for growth, grass needs more ​surface​ ​area​, than summer months, for the same regrowth—if the amount of moisture remains a constant. Gordon S. (Premier consultant and raises 200+ ewes on grass) prefers to move when grass length is 4" (a good practice to use in general). 

This leaves the plant enough solar collection ability to regrow without drawing from its roots (drawing via the roots reduces available energy for spring growth). 

Also consider fencing off shaded areas. While essential during summer months, they attract heavy traffic which leads to bare, barren dirt (not good)


  • Increase rotation speed (i.e. less time in one area). Less time grazing (one location) = more grass available for collecting sunlight. 
  • If an area is already overgrazed, fence it off. Same practice for shaded areas—if it's cool, fence off the trees.
For fencing out of the way areas, consider using a solar fence energizer
In either case, we use netting to accomplish this. It is quick to install and easy to move. Fall rains bring soft soils so nets with double-spikes are preferred by many (though we find single-spike just as effective on our farm). Though if we graze later into the season, nets with drivable posts (DP) would be advised (hard/frozen soils). 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Photo of the Day

A few of our expectant mothers enjoying an early morning snack. Ewes marked with blue are expecting singles, green-twins and orange-triplets (or more).

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New for the 2015 breeding season!

Premier’s new Deluxe Marking Harness—notice the padded white strap at the underside of the arm. Strap does not “cut into” the front legs as other nylon harnesses are prone to do.

much better Ram Marking Harness

Why is our new Deluxe Marking Harness a world class harness?
1.Wider (2"), soft nylon straps—distribute pressure more evenly over the ram’s body. Also easier to find and adjust the straps when they’re in deep wool.
2.Unique padded (1/5 in. thick) white straps behind the front legs to prevent skin abrasion.
3.Much larger snap buckles and metal loops—harness’s connection and stress points are reinforced. Even gloved hands can manipulate the large snap buckles.
4.Crayon holder is also padded.
5.Uses standard crayons.
When we brought the rams in from breeding last autumn—little to no wear in the brisket area and behind the front legs. Bottom line? This is the best ram marking harness we've ever used or sold. Click here for Deluxe Marking Harness instructions.
Comparison Chart
Nylon Breeding Harness
For mature rams of medium and large breeds with broad briskets. Durable nylon straps. Strong plastic snap buckles allow adjustment as needed and rapid fitting. More likely to stay on if the ram’s brisket has 3 months’ wool growth.
Marking Crayons
3 temperature ranges: Cold (25º - 65ºF), Mild (65º - 85ºF) and Hot (85º-100ºF). Mild and cold crayons wear very quickly when it's hot. Hot and mild crayons don't mark well when it's cold. We wish that one crayon would work for all conditions.... but such a crayon does not exist. And a warning—the marks from any and all breeding crayons may not be scourable.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Picking a fence and energizer combination—did I get everything right?

If picking out an energizer or roll of netting for the first time strikes you as a daunting task don't worry—it does not need to be tedious.

When visiting Premier's website—below the logo and slogan are a series of tabs, Sheep-Goats-Poultry-Horses-Garden/Wildlife-Deer-Cattle-Hogs/Pigs-Camelids. (Before we go any further, camelids is a one word way of saying llamas and alpacas.)

Tabs shown above. 

Select the relevant tab for your fencing needs—I'll select sheep. Go to the left hand column and click on Fencing.

Your fence options should now be shown. Since we're discussing netting, we'll focus on the temporary and semi-permanent options. The main differences being, how often do you intend to move the netting? Daily/weekly—choose temporary. Less often? Semi-permanent.

Fencing options for sheep (Semi-Permanent options not shown). 

From there you decide on Plus or Standard nets (post frequency), length, height, strut or string verticals and type of spike. Don't forget support posts for ends, corners and any major directional changes.

Now that you've chosen your fence, it's time to choose an energizer. Unless you already have one, in that case you're done!

Click back over to Fencing and select Energizers (DC, AC or Solar).
At the top of the results select energizer comparison chart. This will take you to a chart detailing all of Premier's energizers.

Click on the type of unit you need, AC (plug-in) or DC (battery or solar).

In the upper right corner you can again select the type of species you are fencing. Scroll right and you will find the number of nets each energizer can power. There is a range, (i.e. 2-5, 3-6) depending on energizer output in dry grass/soil conditions. If your soils are typically moist, go with the higher number and vice versa in dry conditions.

Energizer power source are the selections at the upper left. Species type is at the upper right. (Energizers can be used for multiple species.)

These options should help narrow down energizer and net choices. As always, if you have any questions give us a call at 1-800-282-6631 and we'll help you out.

Coming soon—advanced filters to help narrow down your netting and energizer selections.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tuning the Flock…

For those interested in adding a little pizzazz to their pasture, consider bells. Their attractive tones add a sense of musicality to a pastoral scene while also having a practical use (or two).

Longtime Premier consultant Gordon uses bells with his own flock of Ile de France ewes and lambs. On using bells, if the ewes are in his thick timber pasture, he can go to the front of the pasture, sit and listen for a minute. The bell tones will tell him exactly where his flock is located in the timber paddock.  

An added benefit is the angst it causes in coyotes. "Anything (that maintenance free) to disrupt or make a predator nervous is worth doing,"

Pete Arambel, co-owner of The Shepherd Magazine runs a flock of 6,000 head in Wyoming. He too uses bells—about 1 per every 25 ewes.

  • When grazing forested areas—it's easier to find sheep with bells than binoculars. 
  • The guardian dogs become accustomed to normal bell tones, but when a different sound is heard (such as a ewe being bothered by a predator) the dogs charge forth to investigate. 

Premier's 3 bell options. Ram, steel and brass. 

Per Pete—bells go on ewes in the Spring after shearing. Ewes new to bells dance around a little bit but eventually become accustomed to the bells.

How tight should the bell's collar be? You should be able to slide your hand under the collar. Too loose and the collar may come off.

A final benefit—your family and friends will think they look cool on the sheep (at least that's what Gordon says). 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Ewes rejecting lambs?

Ewe placed in an orphan head gate. Ewes that reject their lambs may be placed in the head gate to re-bond them with their lambs. Can also be used to graft lambs onto ewes. 

It's not uncommon to have a ewe reject her lambs. There are a variety or reasons that this may happen.
  • First time mothers may be afraid of what just came out of them. 
  • If group penned close together, some ewes become nervous. This is an opportune time for granny ewes to come and steal lambs. 
  • Sometimes a ewe having multiples will lose track of the first lamb (while focusing on birthing the second or third, etc). She then cleans off the later born lamb(s) meanwhile the 1st has wandered off. 
  • Sharp teeth. This causes discomfort to the ewe during feeding so they prevent the lamb from feeding in order to avoid the pain. This is fixed with a quick pass with a tooth file. Check the lambs teeth before doing so to ensure this is the cause of the neglect. 
For most cases (other than sharp teeth), rejection can be remedied by placing the ewe in an orphan head gate. 
Lamb with sharp teeth. Filing the teeth prevent the lamb from damaging the dam's udder. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Introducing PRS-I and PRS-B energizers

This Spring Premier added several new units to its PRS Energizer line-up. These units offer some of the same features of the original PRS line-up but with added enhancements.

  • Output 0.5 or 0.25 joule
  • Same UV treated, high-impact plastic outer case but the energizer inside varies in joules of output and energy use/hr.
  • Include a backup battery charger.
  • Have an easy-access on/off button.
  • On/off button shows up very well at night (flashes green or red depending on battery charge level).
  • Have an overcharge regulator to protect the battery.
  • Can be placed on the ground or on the top of steel T posts.
  • Include wires and clips to connect to the fence and the ground rod. 
  • Larger batteries (in amp-hr) than competing units of similar output.
A “PRS-B” (for “Basic“) unit removes a steady 50 milliamperes per hour from the battery—which in turn must be recharged by the solar panel.
PRS-I” units (for “Intelligent”) are able to reduce their energy demand when the fence’s voltage is high—due to few weeds touching the fence. 
This occurs in fall and winter for most fences and occurs all year for some horse, cattle and deer fences.
So an “I” unit’s battery is more likely to remain charged through the low sunlight days of autumn and winter.

0.25 vs 0.5 Joule?
0.25 joules will work for a roll of sheep netting or a strand of “weed-free” rope. It’s also enough for most cattle and horse temporary fences. Will work with a roll of PoultryNet or VersaNet but grass must be mowed or sprayed as needed to maintain adequate voltage. 
For multiple rolls of net we advise 0.5 joule units or larger.

Below is a video of setting up a new PRS for in-field use. If you have any questions give us a call at 1-800-282-6631 or visit our website at

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Introducing Drivable Netting Posts

Drivable Netting Posts!
Can be hit hard with a mallet/dead blow hammer or tapped in with a steel hammer. Fence sets up easily in hard or frozen soils as well as soft soils. Pushing is no longer necessary.

Who needs Drivable Posts?
  • Those who find it too difficult to push single spikes or step double spikes into the ground.
  • Those who install net into: Hard soils in summer, frozen soils and rocky soils.


  1. Drive Cap (brown in color to distinguish from regular post caps). Can be hit with a mallet or dead blow hammer (not steel).
  2. 19mm post with fiber glass cables. Same sturdy post as our FiberTuff end/corner posts. Excellent for high strain fence lines. 
  3. Spikes with a spike stop to prevent the spike from being forced up into the post—possible when combining normal single spikes and hard soils. 
  4. Single spike. All the downward driving force is directed toward one spike (not two) making soil insertion easier. Single spike less likely to tangle than double spike.  

Drivable posts are currently available in the following nets:
Bear QuikFence
PoultryNet 12/48/3
PoultryNet 12/42/3 (PN)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Fence Checklist

You're ready for spring. Your animals are ready for spring. Your pastures are ready for spring. But are your fences ready for spring? Before you set your flock or herd loose onto pastures that haven't seen use for a few months, make sure the fences are ready to keep livestock in and everything else out.

Walk the fence line(s). Check for branches or trees that may have toppled during a winter windstorm. If needed, clear branches and trees off of your fence and assess its condition. Most HT fences can bounce back after heavy branches have been removed. Other fences may need some more involved care. If the fence is in a flood prone area, remove any downed trees/limbs that could be washed into the fence.

Make sure all conductors are intact. If needed, mend with repair kitsropelinks, twistlinks or gripples.

Check plug-in and battery energizers before use—the fence must be adequately electrified. For battery energizers, make sure the batteries are fully charged before bringing them to the field.

If using a PRS, this video details how to bring it out of winter storage and get it ready for spring fencing.

For more informational posts, click on the links below:

Before you buy or build a fence
Troubleshooting electric fences
Tips for setting up netting successfully
Netting: Struts or Strings
Netting: single spike or double spike posts?
Netting Tips