Author Topic: Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs  (Read 5537 times)

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs
« on: July 01, 2008, 09:23:45 pm »
Hi all

Soon to collect my first sheep - some lovely zwartbles

Currently have five acres and two energetic pointers who get to gallop round it.  In order to separate sheep and pointers other half thinks we should split our 5 acre field with electric fencing rather than permanent fencing

Can anyone offer advice re best type of electric fencing/pros and cons/personal experiences.  I understand you need quite a strong current for sheep - how dangerous is this for dogs ?  how do you introduce dogs/sheep to electric fencing - do you just let them find out for themselves as they jump on it that they will be soundly zapped if they touch it or do you somehow deliberately take them to it (the dogs that is!!) Are round stobs and sheep netting (the cheaper hexagonal wire type stuff - not proper 'stock fencing' )a viable option to split a field

Has anyone experience of their own dogs and sheep actually mixing without a problem (maybe highly unlikely but would avoid need to split field).  If this has worked for some of you - any advice on how to do the introducing bit ? Don't want to stress the sheep and can't run fast enough to catch up with a pointer who's decided to see how fast these new fluffy black things can run.  I believe that the pointers, being gentle mouthed would be unlikely to try to grip the sheep, however .....

Any advice much appreciated, thanks

hexhammeasure

  • Joined Jun 2008
    • golocal food
    • Facebook
Re: Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2008, 10:49:01 pm »
I’m not going to sit on the fence on this one…(sic – pun intended)

We  have a black terrier mix and Labrador who run with our sheep and are no problem. They have been taught not to chase so they just mingle with them. However – and this is the critical thing our suffolks are not dog shy. Sometimes even the sheepdog has trouble moving them! The deciding factor is whether your zwartables run on seeing the dogs – that will excite the dogs into ‘playing’. Dogs do not need to bite to cause problems – stressing pregnant ewes WILL cause abortions and possibly cause your sheep to run into trouble, smash through gates get legs caught in fencing etc. We have ALWAYS introduced the dogs to sheep very young and when the ewes have lambs at foot. This teaches the dogs that sheep can protect themselves.

As far as electric fencing goes I find sheep netting is fine on short grass, try to avoid earthing the fence in long grass or touching the ground. The bottom strand is often not electric and keeping the fence taught is key. We let the lambs get used to a field before we set up the fence so that they won’t go tearing round and try to run through the fence. As far as the dogs go once bitten twice shy…. despite the vocal objections very little can happen to them ( old dogs should beware) stay near the on/off switch until the first shock has been observed if possible in case one runs into the wire too fast and gets tangled. Just as my old boss used to lean on the fence to make sure the tup worked he also used to watch the sheep and dogs get used to the electric fence… I think he may have had a sadistic sense of humour….
Ian

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2008, 09:32:48 pm »
Hi HHM

Many thanks for taking the time to reply - great advice.  Particularly like the bit about being next to the on/off switch to start with - panicking sheep or dog stuck in a fence while getting continuously zapped doesn't bear thinking about !!  I confess to being a little nervous of electric fencing myself having been zapped in the past (I know I know - what a wuss !!). 

now off to look at the option of a small agricultural shed suitable for a very small flock - anything I've seen so far is pretty big (I'm expecting to start off with a max of 6 females, keeping a max flock of 12 after lambing ) - any ideas on supplier/cost ?  there is of course the 'do you need planning permission' question which I'll also need to explore. 

waiting on my forms to arrive to get my holding number, then I'll get a flock number and we're off ......

thanks again for your help 

hexhammeasure

  • Joined Jun 2008
    • golocal food
    • Facebook
Re: Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2008, 11:07:10 pm »
i have to say I'm not a big fan of housing for sheep. I'd pretty much always reccommend a shelter rather than a shed. In general a roof and back and side is usually sufficient for sheep. Obviously if you intend to lamb in winter (december thru february) something with a warm spot is preferred. Most sheep lambed indoors are usually done for the shepherds benefit rather than the ewe.  I find that ewes and lambs kept indoors are more prone to clostridial diseases and bloat.

reading this through i think i should add as a proviso that the winters around here aren't all that severe and i'm not sure where you are. if you intend to lamb around march-april time a simple shelter / pig ark idea as a minimum would probably suffice
Ian

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2008, 11:30:11 pm »
Hello again HHM

I'm in Ayrshire - winters not usually severe, just a tad on the wet side !!

Your advice is good news - as have been thinking about the possibility of a field shelter adapted with the top half with wood with spaces in between rather than solid (I know there's a name for this but it's late and I can't for the life of me think what its called !)  For a base probably hardcore topped with somethink less jaggy on the woolies tootsies.  This would be much cheaper than the steel framed option and hopefully less likely to cause problems with the neighbours.  I do already have two year old existing planning permission for a couple of stables, however, as I'm currently preferring sheep to horses am considering a field shelter further down the field instead.  I could go ahead with the stabling option as an 'investment' for any future horsey purchase but was worried about the ventilation aspect of using stables for sheep ?

thanks again


Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2008, 10:40:42 pm »
We're planning to have a shelter built soon, too. I think we'll put in a concrete floor and have three sides with hurdles along the front; the sides will be solid to a couple of feet then spaced boards to break the wind. I'd like to have somewhere to hold them at lambing, just at night and until I'm sure the lambs are up and sucking. It would have been good last month as shade, when it was really hot, too.

I'm going to check with the planners but I don't think we need PP for an agricultural building of the size we're planning.

I'll add it to the "To Do" list!

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Sheep Field Shelter
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2008, 11:13:24 pm »
Hi Rosemary

Just happened to look into the issue of planning re a field shelter for sheep today.  I was advised that subject to certain criteria you don't need planning permission if its for agricultural purposes right enough. 

You need to do a search for a 'Prior Agricultural Notification Form' and add the name of your local council.  Would take too long to type in all the info here but in essence it depends on the size of your land, distance from a 'classified or metalled road' (at least 25m away), proximity to other residences and the size/materials re the actual building.  Providing you don't need planning permission and can use prior agricultural notification instead, the Council have 28 days from receipt of the form to reply to either seek more detailed info or accept it.  Apparently if they don't get back to you within 28 days you can go ahead.   You may find that a search as above without the local council name brings up some Council's guidance notes on the subject which are very helpful (unfortunately the Council that covers where I live had nothing available on the internet).

hope this helps ...

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2008, 09:10:24 am »
Hi, I spoke to our planners yesterday and he gave me 4 criteria - the ones you refer to, I expect. If it's for agricultural use on a holding 0.4ha or more, if it's more than 25m from a metalled adopted road, less than 12m high and if the total area of buldings built in the last two years (including what you're proposing) is les than 265m2, then you don't need PP.

So, onwards and upwards! All I need now is a builder!

Blacksheep

  • Joined May 2008
Re: Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2008, 04:20:02 pm »
Congratulations on the purchase of your first sheep  ;)
Sounds like you are busy with preparations..

re electric fencing - we use polyposts and 4 strands of 'wire' , where its more permanent we also use fence posts with nylon insulators to take the lines, I think maybe you are less likely to get problems of animals getting caught than with electric netting as they are more able to slip right through the fencing while they are learning rather than get tangled in electric netting. This year the field we have our ewes and lambs in has this electric fencing on 3 sides with a thick hedge growing through the standard sheep wire fencing on the 4th side, this is working well, last year they were in a field with sheep wire fencing only and some of them managed to get their heads caught in the fencing, so I don't necessarily think electric fencing is a bad thing.

re the shelter, if you are using it for early lambing ( you will need to lamb Jan/Feb time if you want to show your lambs!) then you need to think about night time checks etc when you decide where to locate it, also if you want water and electricity in it for lambing again this may affect where you choose locate it - obviously you can manage with carrying water and using torches/lanterns etc, but just a thought.

I think even if you are lambing later you do need the shelter, we lambed in April this time half the ewes outside, using a couple of old livestock trailers in the field to provide temporary mothering pens at night, but the weather became so bad we ended up bringing the remaining ewes into the barns at night until they finished lambing. The trailers, although not pretty, have proved really useful as they can be moved to where you want them, they are very easy to properly clean out and disinfect and once the lambs are all born they can be adapted to use as creep feeders/shelters for the lambs - who as an added bonus are then very unstressed about going in trailers in the future

Good luck with getting ready and the arrival of your new sheep!

countrygirlatheart

  • Joined Apr 2008
Re: Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2008, 08:43:33 pm »
thanks to everyone for their replies, much appreciated

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2008, 09:52:37 pm »
Hmm. The trailer idea is a good one. Must think about that.

Ayeskint

  • Joined Feb 2008
  • Fife, Central Scotland
Re: Sheep and Electric Fencing and sheep and dogs
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2008, 10:36:21 pm »
Hello there I'm not a big fan of running dogs with sheep especially if there is a risk of other dogs getting into your field. Better that they are wary. I was also told that there might be a worm issue - can't remember exactly but think that they might be able to pick up worms from dog/sheep poop.  We have a 3 field which has an inner square of electric fencing that is divided up into 4 quarters so that I can rotate the sheep round.  I walk the dogs round the path between the electric fence and the real fence.  After a couple of zaps the dogs get the message although better to keep them on leads so that you can control them.

I've found that different breeds of sheep react differently to the electric fencing - shetlands are a nightmare but ryelands, or mules are very respectful.  I just lay down one side when I move them - I have to lift my bottle fed mule lambs over because they think they will die if they touch the wire - don't know what I'm going to do when they are bigger.  My shetlands on the other hand go through phases - worst before shearing when their fleece is think and insulating.  They either burst through it or jump it depending on their mood.  Hey ho the joys of shetland.................

Carol

 

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