Last Updated on February 25, 2022 by Allison Price
This barrier is portable and economical and can be used to manage pastures and transport horses.
You might have seen a huge pasture where horses are grazing on a tiny, roped-off area of grass. But you may not know what it was.
This is one of the most popular uses for temporary fencing. However, you need to make sure that the materials and tools are appropriate for horses, land and your management style. This article will discuss the types and uses of temporary fencing as well as how to install it.
Rotational grazing system: Perimeter or exterior fencing is permanent. Interior fencing, which divides an acreage into smaller sections, is temporary and usually electric.
Jim Gerrish of American Grazing Lands Services LLC in Patterson, Idaho has over 35 years of experience in pasture management. Gerrish moved to Idaho twelve years ago with Dawn, his wife. He was a former professor of agronomy at the University of Missouri. They had a 260-acre farm that they managed with horses, sheep, cattle and sheep while in Missouri. They manage a 450-acre unit of irrigated pasture with cattle in Idaho. They are currently working in the pasture management sector as consultants and teachers.
Jim Gerrish says, “Imagine an acre and half with three horses, and then grazed with weeds.” The pasture’s health will be greatly improved if you use temporary fencing to visualize 30 blocks and then move the horses each day to a new block.
Each block should be allowed to rest and regrow for 29 days before horses can return. He says that dividing a pasture area into smaller areas and rotating horses through them can help horses graze more evenly, prevent pasture grasses becoming overgrazed, and ensure fresh grass for a longer time period during the growing season.
Let the horses graze the grass to 3-4 inches and then move them on to the next area. Temporary fences can be moved with horses and water sources. If you have enough supplies, you can set up all fencing at the start of the summer.
Portable electric fencing is light, portable, affordable, simple to transport, and requires very little maintenance. Jim Gerrish says, “I know that a lot of horse-owners don’t believe that temporary fencing will contain them horses.” “I disagree with this 100%.”
Dawn Gerrish adds that horses are one of the easiest to train, because they are sensitive. “They will never do it again once they come in contact with an electric fence.”
She suggests that horses who are not used to temporary fencing should be introduced to it in a corral with posts at 30 feet apart. To support the tape in windy or snowy situations, keep the posts at a minimum of 30 feet apart once you have moved outside the corral. This makes it easier for horses to see the fence and makes it appear more substantial.
It’s time to put it into practice
Jim Hawkins, an instructor at University of Idaho’s Lost River Grazing Academy, and a retired livestock extension agent from the University of Idaho, lives near the Salmon River headwaters in Challis. Hawkins has been grazing up to 80 horses on 50 acres of irrigated land since the early 2000s. He explains, “Outfitters who use their horses primarily during fall hunting season need a place to board their horses and keep them safe during the rest of year. So they pay me to take care of their horses in the summer months.”
Hawkins employs management-intensive grazing to rotate horses across set pasture areas. He sizes them so that horses can graze each area to no less than 3 inches within a week. Hawkins sets up each area so that horses can return to the corrals. He explains that horses are allowed to graze for 12 hours at night, and they are kept in corrals for 12 hour during the day. This is the same as outfitters using them during hunting season. Or, they could be used by any horse owner who wishes to ride them, since we don’t ride often after dark.
Hawkins uses two strands instead of one because he grazes mules alongside horses. One strand is knee-high at 24ins and the other is chest-high at 48ins. Hawkins laughs and says, “Mules just a lot smarter then most horses and most people including me!” Hawkins uses temporary fencing and metal T–posts that he puts up in the spring and leaves through the grazing season.
Methods and Materials
Jim Gerrish says that for those who are not familiar with electric fencing products and rotational grazing, it is possible to start by speaking to a company that specializes only in this product. Feed supply store sales clerks often lack product knowledge. He says, “The buyer must understand that there are two types of fencing products: one for permanent fence and one for temporary fence.” “Do not confuse them.”
Although perimeter fencing and main subdivision fencing can be electrical, perimeter fencing is typically a physical barrier made from materials like wooden posts or diamond v-mesh horse fencing. Temporary fencing is used most often to divide the interior into smaller sections.
There are many options for temporary fencing posts. Pick a brand that is easy for you to place in the ground and attach the electric tape. He says temporary posts should be made from self-insulating materials such as plastic, plastic/wood composites or fiberglass.
Between each post, string one or more strands or tapes of wire or tape. There are many types of temporary fencing filament:
- Tape is the most commonly used material for containing horses. Jim Gerrish says that there are two types of tape. The tape measuring half an inch in width is used most often for semi-permanent fences with high visibility. Semi-permanent fences are more commonly made with tapes 1 1/2 inches wide. However, both methods work well for horses. Dawn Gerrish states that it is important to have two contrast colors such as red and white, black and blue, and white. She advises against using solid colors like yellow, green, and red. These colors blend into the pasture background and make it difficult for horses to spot.
- Braided Polywire is a string-sized product made of plastic and wire filaments that are twisted together to form a thin strand about the length of string. Jim Gerrish states that this is the lowest-grade fencing product, with lower conductivity, less strength and less visibility than other products. Because of its poor visibility, it is not recommended for horses.
- The polyrope is a filament that has a greater diameter than braided wire and offers better visibility and strength. You can find it in diameters as large as three quarters inch. Jim Gerrish says that braiding the wire filaments together with plastic filament greatly increases both conductivity as well as breaking strength. “Visibility is also improved.” Gerrish suggests that horses who are familiar with temporary fencing use the larger diameter polyrope. It doesn’t easily break if they run through it. Tape is the best tape to use when training horses for temporary electric fencing.
- Metalwire is less visible than tape and more portable. Horse people don’t recommend temporary fencing made of wire because it won’t easily break. Dawn Gerrish says that horses are more likely to get seriously hurt by wire.
The icing on top of temporary fencing is a geared reel. This allows for the winding up and payment of the tape. She says that a ratio of 3:1 is preferable because tape can be wound up quicker and with less effort than nongeared reels. A reel that can hold 660 feet half-inch tape is also a preferred option.
If your fence has an electric component, the charger or energizer is the final piece of equipment. Jim Gerrish says that the charger must be sized appropriately for the task at hand. Most chargers are rated according to joules. You need to produce one joule per mile of fencing on your farm. As long as the battery charge does not exceed 50%, batteries can provide as much power and as much as plug-ins.
Dawn Gerrish says that a low-impedance fence charger is best for portable fences. This charger increases the current along the fence’s length, so there is a lot of charge at the fenceline.
Solar chargers can be used anywhere, provided the charger is large enough to do the job.Jim Gerrish
What about solar chargers? These fence chargers convert sunlight’s energy to electrical power and store it as a battery. Jim Gerrish says that solar chargers can be used anywhere provided the charger is large enough to do the job.
The best temporary electric fencing equipment will not work if it isn’t properly grounded. If your temporary fence isn’t hot enough to stop horses from walking right through it, searching for greener pastures, then you are a major cause of temporary fence failure. Your horses should be dissuaded from testing an electric fence’s shock.
An electric fence system uses electricity to make a circuit. Ground rods are used to route the electricity back to the energizer. The system can only flow so much electricity if the grounding is not adequate. Ground the charger by driving a 3- to 4-foot length of metal rod into the ground. The charger can be attached to the grounding rod according to manufacturer specifications.
Other Uses of Temporary Fencing
Temporary fencing can be used for a variety of purposes. The most common use of temporary fencing is to keep a horse in rehab after an injury. Temporary fencing allows your horse to have a paddock that is a bit smaller than a regular stall, but still usable. This will allow him to get a chance to graze and change of scenery. This will stop him racing in a field and further aggravating the injury.
Temporary fencing can be used to divide large areas into smaller ones for visiting horses. If you don’t wish them to come in contact, make sure they are not separated by shared fencelines.
Temporary fencing can be used by some owners as interior fencing in track paddocks. These are long corridors that run around the perimeter of pastures or other areas to encourage horses to interact and move freely. Temporary fencing can be used to modify the track’s width and shape. (To see a slideshow showing track paddock designs visit TheHorse.com/36801.
Temporary fencing can be used to protect your campsite from the elements, while you are traveling, camping, or for a temporary corral at an event or show.
You can also use temporary fencing for other purposes:
- To prevent horses from chewing, cribbing or leaning on fences. One strand of electrical tape should be placed on top of the other, about one-third of a meter above the ground.
- Separate horses from pasture management for other reasons (e.g., behavior issues, mares with foals, etc. );
- To be used as a substitute for fencelines that are damaged until they can be fixed
- To fence off an area (e.g. to protect trees or other plants, help horses avoid holes etc.). You don’t want horses wandering in areas you don’t want them to;
- You can create a buffer strip or biofiltration strip around creeks, ponds or ditches. By keeping horses and livestock away from these areas, vegetation flourishes and acts as mud managers.
- Be prepared to wean a foal from its dam.
It’s best to only set up as many temporary paddocks as you have to. You can always add more temporary electric tape to make it easier to subdivide. Temporary fencing can be moved with horses to move them from one area to the next to save money on equipment and fencing. You should ensure that corralled horses are able to get along and that the pastures are big enough for their personalities.
You should place gates to allow horses to move easily from stalls to pasture and back. You should have water sources for each pasture. This could be separate water sources for each area, or one water source that is accessible from multiple areas. You might also consider setting up pastures so that horses have shade or shelter. This is especially important if the summers are hot in your area.
You will be a blessing to your pastures if you use temporary fencing and rotational grazing. Healthy pastures will result in higher forage production, lower hay bills, and happy horses.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!