|Animal friends in the electric net system.|
It's a pretty cool setup. Most of the time it takes me about 2 hours to move it. Between that and daily water checks, I really have very little other animal maintenance. This movable pasture system provides so many cool benefits:
- The periodic moves keep the animals on fresh grass all the time.
- The system prevents overgrazing.
- Parasites are unable to establish themselves given the time that passes between the animals grazing over a particular spot. I like to give at least 30 days rest between moving them back, allowing any existing parasites to die off.
- The electric fence, and the moving of said fence, keeps predators at bay.
So I decided to document what I do.
First, I get all of the animals confined. I lock the coop up the previous night so the chickens are all contained. I also take donkey and tie him out to a tree to get him out the way and safe.
|The lure of a dirt hill was too much for Samson the Donkey to resist |
while tied out to a tree during the last fence move.
|The sheep stay put, but are fast outgrowing the XL dog crate.|
Once everyone's secure, I pull up the fences and lay them out where I'm going to move everyone to.
|Three rolls of electro-net, ready to go!|
The fence posts are "step-in," meaning that I push down with my foot to drive the posts into the ground. Two spikes, 4" and 5", hold each post securely in place.
|Stepping in the step-in post is easier with a big ol' boot.|
|The first line set up in the morning sunlight. Poor sheep can't wait to get out.|
I also have to hammer in new ground rods (I use 2) where the charger can reach. Pulling them out of the ground is my absolutely least favorite part of the whole process. I need a better system for that, but it'll have to wait....
Once it's all in and connected, I test the fence, usually by first listening to it. Every second or so, I hear a small pop where the lowest orange/hot wire touches some grass. The changer pulses to avoid draining, so it's not constantly on. It send a very strong pulse/shock periodically. If I hear that, I know we're good. I then use a voltmeter to make sure we're well above 3,000 volts. It's peaked at about 12kV before, but usually is in the 4kV-8kV range.
As soon as I let them all loose, the go CRAZY for the new, fresh grass. It has not been eaten on (or, ahem, fertilized on) for a full 30 days, so it is clean and tasty.
Once we're all set, I let the friends go.
|"Baa! Fresh grass!"|
|The chickens go nuts looking for bugs and greens as soon as they get out of the coop.|
So there it is. That's my pasture rotation routine. I'll be adding a fourth fence line to the system once the sheep get bigger.
I did not yet mention the manure collection and the hay making. After everyone's settled, I collect the donkey manure for composting, and scythe down whatever they didn't eat for overwinter hay. I also weed thistles and other bad stuff out.
The end result is a large, clean-mowed area, fertilized and ready to rest for a month and do it again, and healthy, organically-fed animals, all for just a few hours a week.