Sunday, March 16, 2014

A new sheep containment idea under test

Sheep have proven to be the toughest animal to contain in our approach of smaller movable paddocks.  Feel free to search this blog to understand WHY  we use smaller constantly moving paddocks mimicking the herding action seen in nature. This post is not about why,  but how,  specifically with sheep!

Sheep,  at least our heritage Jacob sheep,  do not respect electric fencing.  We have tried numerous designs and all but one approach fail to contain.  The one is based on very tight lines with permanent end posts.  Perhaps it would be possible to train them to respect electric,  but our sheep seem pretty smart,  they know that if they leap through they seldom get shocked. Their wool lessens the pain to be more of a nuisance than a deterrent. So we finally gave up on electric.

This year we have the new property for the sheep,  so we need a paddock to contain 60 to 80 with movable hard fencing.  The first one was built using tpost driven in and 50 inch hard combination panels.  It will contain them and isn't to bad in labor to move...  But required a tractor there to remove that tpost for every move.

Then an idea...  Why not build a free standing hard panel fence system?  Movable without a tractor,  yet hard fencing you can move by hand.  Sound perfect,  right?

So...  I finally convinced myself to buy that welder I have wanted for so long!  Time to build with metal!   After a lot of research I decided on an old fashioned oxy-acet welder.  Good anywhere without electricity ,  costs less,  and can both cut and weld in one unit. Now  honestly,  I have not welded since highschool...  So that is a bit concerning...  But hey..  Gotta start sometime!

A little u tube instruction,  some practice,  a larger welding tip,  and we are making fence prototypes!   It took a few versions to get a workable idea but I think we have something!

This is based on 6 foot tposts.  I cut one in half and cut a slot halfway down it on one side.  This makes 2 support braces.  Then weld a full tpost one brace,  by sliding the edge of the full post into the brace at right  angles a few inches from the bottom of the full post.  I can make a nice 3 point weld this way for strength.  The result is a full sized post with a piece going front to back a few inches from the ground point.

In the pasture,  you take this assemble,  step on the never to drive the post a few inches in the ground,  paid the supported right angle to the fence line.  Then hard panel sections are attached with heavy duty wire tires.  In minutes,  without a pounder or tractor you have a self standing,  movable,  hard wire paddock!

For an initial test I built one 16 x 32 for the 3 mini nubian goats.  These guys are pretty hard on fencing and will not the first opportunity the see.

After assembly I decided the long 16 for panels had to much unprotected span  and installed a single full size post at a 45 angel,  with a single wire tie.  This really helped stabilize the sides.

It worked!  Except that in the first move I realized some flaws in ease of use.  Corners were tough and had to be fully removed. More work then I wanted,  so I made a corner by bending a wire panel at 90 degrees in the middle (easily done by hand).  Then posts are only installed on the long sides...  No more corner posts!

To help stabilize the corners,  I made sure to overlap each panel one square and attack extra wire tires on the end of the overlap as well as the post a square back.  This helps stabilizer the corner by adding some weight of the long side to the corner if the corner is lifted by am escaping occupant.

I'm pretty happy with where this ended up..  A few days will tell for sure.  For now aesop,  rosemary,  and besty have volunteered to test it.  No escapes yet!

Here are  some pics of the test paddock

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