Erecting well-made fences will save you a fortune long term
Published 25/10/2011 | 05:00
The winter months were traditionally the time when farmers mended their fences, laid hedgerows, cleaned field drains and, in general, made good what needed repair.
Nowadays, we mostly trim hedgerows mechanically and the electric fence has enabled us to manage grazing more productively, but we still need to maintain stock-proof boundaries and none are more important than those around our woodland.
When forestry increased in popularity in the early 1990s, it became almost a local sport in some rural areas to put cattle and sheep into new plantations the minute contractors left. It took a while for the woodland owners and their neighbours to realise the stupidity of this and the huge cost of stock damage to the future crop of timber.
Not only do livestock ruin young trees but they also break down the open drains created after mounding and in general cause damage way beyond the small perceived benefit of some stolen grazing.
I have seen many cases of trees destroyed by cattle and sheep with bark stripped and saplings grazed and broken.
With this in mind, I have spent the past five years repairing and replacing much of my own forestry fencing that was erected in 1995 and thereby ensuring that the woods remain protected.
When I first planted, my Forest Service inspector demanded that I run a rabbit-proof fence around every section of my new woodland, despite the fact that there are no rabbits on my farm and have not been any since the introduction of myxomatosis in the 1950s.
This fence was comprised of chicken wire with barbed wire as a top strand and some electric fencing in places for additional protection. It looked stock proof initially but it wasn't long until the sheep created holes and gaps and repairing them became a daily task. I would, of course, have preferred to fence the lot with high tensile sheep wire in the first place but couldn't afford to do that and also include rabbit-proof wire.