Innovations in Fence Repair
Published on Fri, 08/06/2021 - 12:30pm
Innovations in Fence Repair.
By Maura Keller - Photo Courtesy of Gallagher.
Here’s one thing we know: Producers are looking for products that are going to help them become more efficient and more profitable over time. Michele Marcoux, territory manager, Gallagher Animal Management says this means that they are looking for new technology such as apps to help them run their fence line, and let them know when the fence is down. Or an app that allows them to access all their calf/cow history at the click of a button.
“Those are things that we can provide and as the technology grows, the more solutions we can offer to help out those producers.
Indeed, producers’ lives are very busy so they want to automate everything they can, including the containment fencing used throughout their acreage. The safety of a producer’s stock is vital so it’s critical to have good fencing and proper fencing repair equipment.
According to Scott Rooney, director of customer support/tech support/inside sales, Gallagher Animal Management, fence testers are the key to maintaining and repairing an electric fence. A tester helps you confirm your energizer, ground system and fence is all working properly.
“If not, you can determine which part is not working and focus your efforts there,” Rooney says. “I’ve spoken to people that have spent days trying to fix their fence just to save a few bucks on a tester and break down to buy a tester and their problem is fixed in an hour.”
Gallagher offer three different solutions in a tester:
• Digital Voltmeter – This gives you a digital reading in kilovolts (kV) in 100 volt increments. It is extremely precise and accurate.
• Voltmeter and Fault Finder – This takes it to the next level. Not only does it provide a reading in kV but it also shows the amount of Amps (current) in the fence. This is helpful in finding shorts throughout the fence system.
“Remember, a fence operates very similar to plumbing but if there is a leaky pipe you will see water coming out,” Rooney says. “Electricity is invisible so some shorts are impossible to see like if an insulator is in place but it’s cracked or faulty. A fault finder will easily pick this up.”
• iSeries Remote – This combines the fault finder with a fence remote as well to turn the energizer on/off. This is only compatible with Gallagher’s iSeries line and is very convenient on large systems.
An Evolution of Sorts
Gallagher introduced its intelligent line of energizers, called “iSeries” many years ago. The company added a communication feature that allowed the end user to install fence monitors on the system at strategic points, which monitor the voltage and current just like a fault finder.
“These monitors report back to the energizer and if the voltage drops, they can create an alarm to let you know before your stock does,” Rooney says. “We take this another step further and offer a WiFi Gateway that enables you to receive alarms through the Gallagher Ag Devices app and also turn the energizer on/off.”
The iSeries line allows the producer to view the things they want remotely and be notified if there is a problem.
“This gives them the peace of mind knowing their stock is safe and if there is a problem they have a chance to fix it before the animals get to a road or highway,” Rooney says.
Bekaert also manufactures many different styles and sizes of wire in various lengths that can be used in new builds as well as repairs. According to Keith Taylor, Technical Support Manager for the West at Bekaert, the company’s convenient spools of electric fence wire in 17ga and 14ga low carbon, gives the customer a reliable rust resistant coating that can be used to splice in sections of smooth, easy to tie wire, to get farmers and ranchers by in a pinch and 12.5ga high tensile smooth wire when that extra strength is needed.
“A rancher or farmer may just need some good wire to tie a fence back up to a steel post and Bekaert 17ga and 14ga electric fence wire works well for these repairs, as well as building new or temporary sections of fence,” Taylor says. “There are hundreds and hundreds of miles of fence across the country that were installed on wood posts and every year those fences have areas that for many reasons have to be stapled back to the posts.”
Bekaert manufactures several lengths of long lasting Bezinal® staples to get this job done. These Bekaert staples are available in 75 count jars, 8 pound buckets, as well as 50 pound buckets.
“Gripple Joiners are another great quality product that saves time and effort. The average splice using Gripples will take less than half the time of conventional splicing techniques,” Taylor says.
If fact, the mechanical fasteners, joiners, and tensioning tools from Gripple have changed the game when making fence repairs. As Taylor notes, a fence repair that would take 10, 15, or even 20 minutes or maybe longer in some cases now take just a minute or two, and producers can move on with their day or night in some instances.
Jim Todd, USA Sales Manager for Stockade also points to the important role proper stapling equipment plays in ongoing fence repairs. As he explains, the staple and hammer have been around for hundreds of years and since wire fencing became common in the late 19th century, this was the primary and only method of installation and repair.
“Sure they work, but with so many smashed thumbs and sore elbows, our engineers knew there had to be a better way,” Todd says. Stockade developed the first cordless powered fencing staplers in 2015 enabling farmers, ranchers, and fence builders to accomplish the job up to five times faster than the old way while being easier on the body. Stockade offers cordless powered fencing staplers, which take the mundane and menial job of driving fencing staples and make it faster and easier while saving wear and tear on the body and hammer-smashed fingers.
“Our Staplemate fencing pliers are a fantastic ‘must have’ for anyone who inevitably needs to pull out staples or cut wire,” Todd says. “There is no fencing pliers on the market that does this job better.”
In the area of woven wire fences, PAJIK Fence Tools offers a woven wire fence 4’, 5’, 6’, and 8’ stretcher that pulls various size rods for different heights of wire. The PAJIK Fence Stretcher is designed for speed and easy set up when installing wire. There are no tools required when setting up to install wire. The PAJIK fence stretcher can be inserted anywhere in the wire without destroying or having to cut the wire.
In today’s economy people are wanting the most for their money, time, and safety,” says Jeff Price, owner of PAJIK. “Today’s fencing products are produced to last longer in different climates and environments. Also, there are different types of woven wire for livestock, which provide safety and have the durability to last. As the technology of fencing tools have evolved one of our goals is to produce a product that make fencing jobs easier, faster and will withstand the test.”
What To Consider
When it comes to maintaining today’s fences, pulling three strands of barbed wire between trees on a fence line may have worked in the past but today’s producers don’t have the time for the constant maintenance this requires.
“The fence is the one asset a farmer has that must operate perfectly 24/7 for years with no down time,” Todd says. “Quality materials and installation techniques can take this worry off the table so they can put their time and energy into other aspects of their lives and business.”
The most important advice Marcoux can give when it comes to building and maintaining an electric fence is to make sure that you have a proper ground field. This is one of the number one issue people have with their systems, and one of the easiest to fix.
“If we do not have enough grounding and the proper materials for that ground field, the less effective their fence is going to be and the more likely that an animal will get out, or in,” Marcoux says. “This means that we are not connecting to a t-post or rebar post, as these materials have paint and rust, which inhibits the ability to complete the circuit, which creates that shock”.
Another important factor to a system is to make sure that there is more than enough power for the system. Bigger is always better in electric fence.
As Marcoux explains, this insures that if we have a good grass year or an insulator breaks, that the energizer is strong enough to push though all those faults and keep the voltage high enough to keep their animals in or out.
“They may also want or need to add on to a system down the road,” Marcoux says. “Having a larger energizer ensures that they can easily add on to their system without any issues.”
Rooney notes that producers should invest in quality fencing products and materials to do the job right.
“The old saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is so true with electric fencing,” Rooney says. “Most problems are compounded by band-aid fixes, so make sure if there is a problem to fix it right. his will save you a lot of money and headaches down the road.”
Taylor advises that producers check their fences. Don’t wait until you have a complete failure.
“I have had to adapt my thinking as I have started working with more western ranchers and farmers. No one thing works for every area of the country. With less animal stocking density out west repairs are more common than full replacement,” Taylor says. “And again when it comes time to completely rebuild, I always recommend moving towards high tensile. The overall maintenance over the life of a high tensile fence is much less. Stronger wire with better coatings equal fewer repairs in the long run.”
Price at PAJIK agrees. The advice he would provide customers when repairing their fencing, is that a job worth doing is worth doing right the first time. “By that I mean if you are going to put in the effort to do a big or small job get the right tools for the job and in return it will boost your quality of work,” Price says. :Also, something that they should consider is to be careful when trying to save money and cut corners, this is a mistake that many make, that should be avoided.”
Gallagher is working on a fenceless system, called Eshepard. This utilizes GPS trackers for each animal, base stations, and an app to track and map Geofences to keep animals in or out of certain areas without having to build a physical barrier.
According to Marcoux, this allows the rancher to monitor his/her heard from anywhere and also maintain their pastures without building a permanent or temporary fence.
“This will be great for ranchers who have hard to reach areas that they are wanting to move their herd to graze, or large areas that would be too expensive to completely fence in,” Marcoux says.
With the price of wood posts continuing to rise, a lot of people transitioning to steel pipe when building fence braces. The Fence Bullet from Bekaert will be an evolving product of the next few years.
Using steel pipe has its challenges,” Taylor says. “Steel pipe braces require a different skill set to build including welding and cutting, not to mention that with a lot of western areas in drought, you have the fire danger.” Bekaert has partnered with a company called Bullet Fence. Bullet Fence is produced in Okmulgee OK, not too far from the Bekaert facility.
The Fence Bullet is a galvanized pipe size specific, bolt together fence system for building fence braces out of pipe. It’s quick and easy to build, only requires basic hand tools to assemble and no welding, which eliminates fire danger in the field.
Stockade also strives to find other ways to make installation and repair of the different fencing types efficient. The company’s RingFast line of pneumatic and hand-powered collated hog ring tools are new to the USA and makes the job of ringing wires together much faster than current single-load manual hog ring pliers.
What’s more, the company’s redesigned ST400i Series II continues to be the tried-and-true cordless power stapler offering the same speed, power, and reliability as its predecessor. The enhanced tool now ensures extra comfort with its reengineered belt hook. Equipped with a new filter, it promises easier assembly, secure seals, and improved performance.
The new metal filter system also lasts longer than the mesh filter and this helps to remove the fine dust particles that can compromise tool performance.
PAJIK Fence Tools also has a couple of new tools that the company is working on that they hope to have on the market very soon.
“Follow us our Facebook page (The PAJIK Fence Stretcher),” Price says. “Or check us out on our website where we will announce our new products as soon as they completed.