Image Credit: tinyfroglet
Fence layout is the glue that ties all other aspects of your grass-fed cattle farm plan together. This makes your electric fence grid the single most important tool in your cattle farming toolbox.
In the previous article about rotational grazing, called 'how to create a herd migration in your pastures', I introduced the concept that your electric fence grid is more than just a containment system and a way to ration out the grass in your pastures. I explained that your electric fences are the steering wheel, brake, and accelerator that you use to control your most powerful farm tool - your grazing herd!
In this article, I want to show you how the layout of your electric fencing grid is the meeting point of every single part of your beef cattle management plan. It provides you with the physical framework to turn your cattle farming plan into reality. How and where you build your fences becomes your 3-dimensional farm business plan, drawn right across your pastures. Fence layout reflects every single management decision in your farm plan and locks that management plan into place as you go about the day to day operation of your business.
The more you learn about this robust and versatile tool - the electric fence grid - the more powerful your electric fence design will be when you plan, build, and begin to operate it.
Your electric fence layout directly affects every single part of your farm management, as shown in by the diagram below. Before you can build an effective electric fence grid, you need to pre-plan every part of your farm management strategy. And as you design your livestock fencing grid, you will need to consider how your layout affects each part of your cattle farming strategy. Every fence you build, or don't build, has consequences that ripple through your entire beef cattle management strategy.
By making your electric fence grid the central part of your farm plan, it ties together every part of your farm management strategy. This dramatically improves your probabilities of having a successful low-cost, highly-efficient grass-fed beef business. But if you just put up livestock fencing to divide your land into bite-sized chunks without incorporating all these other management decisions into your electric fence design, then you will have missed a huge opportunity to improve your farm management and reduce your production costs. And it will potentially cost you a lot of unnecessary money to cope with the challenges and fix the problems that arise when your cattle fence layout comes into conflict with other aspects of your farm management strategy. Electric fence design belongs at the very heart of your entire farm business plan.
Electric fence layout impacts and is directly impacted by every single management decision in your farm plan.
The central role of your electric fence layout in your cattle farming plan, shown in the diagram above, is not meant to overwhelm you. It is just meant to raise your awareness of the wide-reaching impact of your electric fence layout. The fence planning and construction steps on this website, along with the guidance provided by my book Grass-Fed Cattle, will guide you through a logical and simple set of steps to plan your livestock fencing layout, which addresses each of the different aspects of your beef cattle management program along the way.
This may also be a good opportunity for you to review the example farm plan by following the link or by clicking on the image on the right. This example farm plan shows a series of farm maps (with explanations), which will walk you through the electric fence infrastructure, water infrastructure, summer pasture rotation, winter pasture rotation, grass-finishing, pasture calving program, and more. From these example farm maps you will see how your electric fence grid forms the backbone of your entire operation - how every aspect of your farm management strategy is reflected in where you build your fences and how you plan to use them in your grazing plan.
I'd like to show you some of the powerful ways that your electric fence grid can be used as a management tool. The points discussed in the linked articles below are intended to show you how to use your electric fence grid as the versatile 'Swiss Army knife' of your grass-fed beef business, offering powerful yet simple and cost-effective solutions to a whole host of management challenges simply by using your electric fence grid to shape the impact of your grazing herd.
I recommend you read the linked articles before moving on to the next stages of your electric fence planning and construction. Simply understanding all the ways that you can use your electric fence grid will ensure that you design a much smarter and more versatile electric fence layout.
Versatile farm management with electric fences:
As you'll discover as you read these articles, it's pretty remarkable what you can accomplish with a few simple, well-placed wires! It's amazing that the threat of a harmless 'zap' can create such a powerful and flexible psychological barrier, giving you complete control over your cattle's grazing behaviour and allowing you to turn your grazing herd into your most powerful farm management tool.
In the next article in the Electric Fencing Principles series - training cattle to electric fences - I will show you how to use electric fences to manipulate cow psychology to create impenetrable (yet moveable) barriers to control your cattle's grazing behaviour.
(Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made using Amazon links in my post.)
And when you're ready to start planning your cattle farm, check out my book: Grass-Fed Cattle: How to Produce and Market Natural Beef. Use the links below to explore my book and read reviews on Amazon: