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Athenry sheep fencing demo: 'The idea was to show farmers how far their money would go'


Sheep fencing with PDM posts

Sheep fencing with PDM posts

Philip Creighton

Philip Creighton


Sheep fencing with PDM posts

At the recent sheep open day at Teagasc's Athenry unit there were a number of different fencing options on display.

"The idea was to show farmers how far their money would go, depending on the quality of the materials that they were using," says Philip Creighton.

"None of the costings include the cost of labour, which could vary a lot from farm to farm."

It is clear from comparing the Athenry costings with those of FRS (which include the supply of all materials and erection) that farmers can save themselves up to €2/m if they can take on to do the job themselves. FRS's Robert Birney (right) has noticed a shift by farmers in the last 10 years towards doing more of the erecting themselves.

"About half of our sales now are pure retail - in other words the components for fencing, as opposed to the all-in package.

"It's probably related to the downturn, when lads found themselves with more time to tackle these jobs," he thinks.

However, Mr Birney says that the quality of fencing that FRS contractors do requires a good deal of expertise that not every farmer may be able to manage.

"Even the way that we finish off looped ends of wire is designed to maximise the life of the product. We aim to complete about 250m of sheep fencing per day with two men."

PDM posts - the 'Rolls Royce' of sheep fencing

This is the 'Rolls Royce' of sheep fencing according to Philip Creighton. "PDM posts are about twice the cost of your standard pressure treated post, but they are guaranteed for at least 20 years, and I'd say they could go for 30 years," he says.

Even if the farmer is worried that his fencing plan will change during the lifetime of the post, Mr Creighton feels they can still be of value.

* "One of the biggest costs in fencing is the labour, which will be double with the cheaper posts if you find yourself having to go in to re-erect fencing after 10 years. But even if your layout changes a few years after using the creosoted posts, these are ones that you can pull up and use again," he says.

These pressure treated creasoted posts are also the ones used most often by FRS when they are doing fencing work, according to the Roscrea manager Robert Birney.

* "The tanalised pressure treated posts can last for as little as three years sometimes. It all depends on how well they've been dried out before treatment, and unfortunately some of the mills have really skimped on that over the years," he says.

FRS charge €8 for the six foot PDM post required for sheep fencing, and €19.50 for a seven foot strainer post. High tensile sheep wire costs €1.15/m, while high tensile strand wire costs 7.7c/m for a 650m roll. A 200m roll of high tensile barbed wire is priced at €40 per roll.

* "The high tensile and mild strand wire are the same price actually, and even though the mild wire is easier to work with, we'd always recommend the farmer to go with the high tensile for its extra durability and resistance to stretching and sagging over time. Galvinised wire will also prolong its life even further," says Mr Birney.

High tensile sheepwire costs about €1.25/m, compared to €0.75/m for the mild sheepwire.

* FRS charge €5.75-6.25/m to supply and erect a sheep fence with PDM posts, high tensile sheep wire and two strands of high tensile strand wire.

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