It is essential to have good fences for your stock. If you are working with sheep or goats, it can be expensive to put up fences that are capable of keeping them in. Wire mesh is certainly the most effective type of fencing, because it not only stops newborn lambs and kids from getting out, but it also stops most predators from getting in. A cheaper alternative is to put up a wire fence about 1,2m high with 7 or 8 strands of wire. The top strand and maybe one or two others can be of barbed wire, but smooth steel wire is preferable for the other strands, as long as they are kept taut.
Nothing beats the old-fashioned dropper fence when it comes to keeping animals – cattle, sheep, horses – in a contained area. The escalation in animal theft in South Africa has necessitated keeping your farm animals in areas where you can either keep an eye on them or where, at the very least, you know where they are. The dropper fence does not look like much, but it serves its duty with distinction. They are easy to make:
- roll the galvanised wire or, even better, barbed wire in 3 rows to the length that you need;
- use a piece of discarded wood as marker to ensure that the distances between the droppers are the same;
- use nails or wire staples to attach each pole to the 3 lengths of wire;
- roll the wires and droppers up into a manageable roll;
- plant sturdy fence poles at a reasonable distance from each other;
- unroll the pre-made fence, and make sue that all the droppers are tightly secured to the 3 rows of wires;
- rest the fence against the pre-planted fence poles, and attach one end to a corner pole with wire staples securely hammered into the pole;
- pull the fence tight from the corner pole to the next planted pole, and secure with nails or wire staples;
- follow the fence, and make sure that all superfluous pieces of wire are removed so that your animals won’t be injured.
The great advantage of these fences is that they can easily be moved to where new grazing awaits your livestock. Moving them is as easy as rolling them up and unrolling them in the new location. These fences save you the cost of erecting permanent fences that can be extremely expensive. Just remember – they may keep your animals in, but they will definitely not keep predators out.
Conventional fences are not always impenetrable but with the help of electric fencing, the ultimate purpose of a fence can be reached. Electric fencing can serve several purposes, namely animal control or security. An electric fence energiser converts mains or battery power into a high voltage pulse. The energiser releases this pulse through an insulated wire onto the fence line approximately once every second. The pulse is commonly referred to as the shock which is felt when an animal or intruder makes contact with the fence.
In agricultural / game fencing, it is the shock that deters the animal from putting further pressure on the fence line. The pain from the shock received is short lived and does not physically damage the animal, unlike barbed wire, which can cause severe cuts and permanent damage. In cases where livestock are forced through an electric fence due to veldt fires or wild animals, the risk of injury is much lower than in the case of barbed wire fences.
From a security point-of-view, electric fencing not only offers the possibility of deterring, but also of detecting and alarming / monitoring. An electric fence acts as a 24-hour patrolman, patrolling your entire perimeter every second. An electric fence, being a barrier on the perimeter of what you are protecting, offers extended reaction time as opposed to conventional security systems only alarming once the intruder enters or attempts to enter your home.
International business environment
Visit the following websites:
- Wire Association International – www.wirenet.org
- International Zinc Association – Africa – https://africa.zinc.org
- Read about the Wire Journal International at www.wirenet.org
- Fence News (USA) – https://fencenews.com
- World Fence News Online – www.worldfencenews.com
- American Fence Association – www.americanfenceassociation.com
National strategy and government contact
The Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordination Committee launched the Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) in 2012. The eleventh of these priority projects (Sip 11), an agro-logistics and rural infrastructure one, includes the fencing of farms.
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) Directorate: Infrastructure Support Tel: 012 319 846 8502 www.dalrrd.gov.za
The Fencing Act No 31 of 1963 is of importance here. This Act’s objective is to consolidate the laws relating to fences, the fencing of farms (and other holdings), and related matters e.g. access to land by authorised persons for certain purposes (officials from ESKOM, Telkom etc).
Included among the Provisions:
- leaving gates open (by whom and what actions to be taken)
- climbing or crawling over or through fences without permission (actions farmers can take)
- wilful damaging or removal of fences (action farmers can take)
- climbing or crawling over or through, and damaging or removing fences authorised in connection with destruction of vermin (actions farmers can take)
- unintentional damaging of fencing (actions farmers can take)
- notice to absentee owner
- repair of boundary fences
- alteration of boundary fences
- areas where contributions to the erection of boundary fences are obligatory
It is an important piece of legislation for all landowners or people leasing land. Although this Act has been on the books for a long time, it is still very crucial for farmers and especially for new entrants when aspects of fences between properties, the maintenance, damaging, the erecting and upkeep of fences or the actions of people passing through fences are concerned.
Special attention must be given in the cases where owners of common fences – that is between properties – must contribute towards the cost of erecting those fences. When in doubt as to the provisions of this Act, contact with the Authorities is of vital importance.
Websites and publications
- Call 012 842 4017 or email iaeinfo [at] arc.agric.za for the publications Plaasheinings and Farm fences, available from the ARC in Silverton. A document “Farm fences (Stockfarm) April 2016” can be downloaded on their website www.arc.agric.za.
- Find the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture’s guidelines “Use of electric fencing in agriculture” at www.kzndard.gov.za.
- Reporter. 2022,July 6. “The proper fencing to keep sheep and goats safe”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/farming-basics/how-to-livestock/the-proper-fencing-to-keep-sheep-and-goats-safe/
- Staff Reporter. 2020, April 29. “Some cattle fencing basics”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/farm-basics/how-to-business/some-cattle-fencing-basics/
- The Endangered Wildlife Trust, in conjunction with the University of the Witwatersrand commissioned a study to assess the impact of electric fences on small animals in South Africa, the Electric Fence Associated Mortality in South Africa Project (2007). Find it on the Internet.
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