One of the demonstrations associated with "300 Days of Grazing" is improving grazing management. Improving grazing management allows increased utilization of the available forage, thus helping extend the grazing season. Research demonstrated increasing the pasture rotation frequency from twice a month to twice a week increased the number of grazing days by 40%.
Many livestock producers have permanent cross fences on the farm, but all too commonly the gates are open and livestock roam freely. The first step in improving grazing management is to shut the gates and confine the livestock to one pasture at a time and begin rotating among the existing pastures.
The second step is to subdivide the existing pastures with electric fence. Electric fence offers many benefits over traditional barbed or woven wire. One big advantage is cost. In improving grazing management demonstrations, electric fence costs approximately $0.30 per foot - a $0.73 per foot cost savings over traditional fence, not including labor. Other benefits of electric fence include its durability, its ease of construction and maintenance and its light weight and ease of transport.
Electric fence is a psychological barrier, not a physical barrier like barbed wire or woven wire. Therefore, the effectiveness of any electric fence depends on the fence's ability to deliver an unpleasant shock when touched. The ability of the fence to deliver that shock depends on two main things: 1) the energizer and 2) the grounding system.
At the heart of an electric fence system is the energizer, also called the charger. There are several factors to consider when selecting which energizer will be best suited for your individual operation. What will be the power source for the energizer? What size energizer is needed? What is the impedance of the energizer? What are the energizer's warranty and service after the sale?
The three main sources of powering an energizer are 1) 110V or 220V plug-in, 2) battery or 3) solar. Plug-in main power units are the most cost-effective per joule. They are usually the most practical for permanent systems, require less maintenance and are available in higher joule ratings than battery- or solar-powered units. Battery- or solar-powered units work well in remote locations where a power outlet is not available.
Battery-powered units will cost more per joule than plug-in units, plus there is an additional battery cost. Deep-cycle batteries, which can discharge slowly and completely, should be used for powering these energizers.