Thursday, January 12, 2012

Big fencing plans

While adding acreage to the ranch over the years, my goal was to complete a permanent fence around the entire property. After 15 years, I still haven't reached that goal, but all I am lacking are two parcels that are separated from the main ranch: 20 acres on the other side of a blacktop road and 11 acres across a creek. The 11 acres has a barbed wire fence and can hold my daughter and son-in-law's horses. It wouldn't hold goats. The 20 acres is a pine woodlot and has no fences at all. For now, those two parcels will stay as they are.

The main ranch property does have a complete perimeter fence of 48-inch woven goat wire with the 12-inch stays to keep horns from getting caught. I have done some cross-fencing with the woven wire and a good bit of 6-strand high-tensile. Still, my paddocks are way too big for efficient managed grazing. It's time to start doing some more cross fencing. This time, I'm going to use PowerFlex's high-tensile woven wire and offset hot wires. 

I recently visited PowerFlex's headquarters in Seymour, Mo., and picked up a load of fencing, fiberglass posts, insulators and all the accessories needed to build a permanent electric fence.

30 rolls of wire should keep me (and any friends or family
I can recruit) busy for the next year or so.

The aerial map below shows my present and future fence. The perimeter yellow line is completed with most of the interior yellow lines remaining to be done. The red lines are presently a combination of permanent and temporary electric fencing. This electric fence will be renovated into 16-foot lanes so that we can easily move goats to any part of the ranch without having to go through any paddocks or pastures. The big blue dots represent holding/sorting pens. This will be a work in progress, but I will try to keep readers updated as we make improvements.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pregnant does moved onto new pasture

This herd of pregnant does is ready to move to new pasture.
The dry grass, leaves and acorns they've been living off of
has been supplemented with an all-natural 19% protein
horse tub. The horse tub was the only "all natural" tub I could
find in this area.

Back before Thanksgiving I was wondering how the grass would hold up in my stockpiled paddock. Click here to see the blog entry. Well, after numerous frosts and two snows, the grass has held up better than I could have expected. I moved the goats onto the stockpiled grass over the New Year weekend and they went right to work eating it. There is a lot of dry grass in the pasture but there is a lot of new grass greening up also. 

This is not a fancy pasture. Part of it is old hay pasture and part is cutover timber. None of the pasture has been improved. One of the biggest problems lately is under-grazing. The only goats on this pasture for the past 120 days was a group of 20 does and a buck during breeding season. They barely made a dent in the forage during the 45 days they were there. No goats have been on the pasture for the past 60 days.

This pasture has a lot of sage brush in it and I think that works as a windbreak and as insulation for the shorter grasses. If there is anything good to say about sage brush, I guess that is it. By the way, I had 2 tons per acre of lime applied to all my pastures a few years ago to try and help the sage brush problem. Didn't help much.

I had been saving this pasture for my biggest herd of pregnant does. They will be here during kidding, which begins near the end of February. I also moved the mineral feeders and the horse tubs to this pasture. This groups of goats will be low maintenance for the remainder of the winter.
The does dove right into the stockpiled grasses in this new pasture.

Some of the grass comes to the top of my boot.

There are about 30 acres in this pasture. The 44 pregnant does I moved
here should have plenty of nutrition until kidding season, which begins
the last week in February.