Good Fences: Pasture Management 2.0

Good fences don’t just make good neighbors, they make farmers happy. The recent installation of new semi-permanent perimeter fencing in Glynwood’s Upper Big Hay and Lower Big Hay fields has allowed for the creation of more cattle paddocks in the same amount of acreage. It also means our livestock crew spends less time mowing pastures that could instead be grazed or installing by hand hundreds of feet of ElectroNet, only to be moved again the next day.

Building off of high-tensile wire fencing that was already in place, we recently installed T-posts for triple-strand Turbo Wire to form the juncture of four-sided paddocks. The enclosure is thus completed with additional temporary single-strand Turbo Wire crossings that can easily be shifted around according to daily grazing patterns.

New triple-strand Turbo Wire in Glynwood’s big hay fields allows for exponentially more paddocks in the same amount of acreage, saving precious man- and woman-hours.

For farmers rotating their livestock on pasture this is a significant advantage. While a flock or herd is grazing in one paddock, fencing for a second is being installed with electric wire or netting. Animals are moved from “A” to “B” when forage in “A” is depleted. Without perimeter fencing, the process of setting up and breaking down each paddock can be time-consuming beyond what seems reasonable. Now, a paddock can be set up and moved quickly with one single strand of solar-powered electric wire.

“Using existing framework, we’re utilizing our fields in a different way. An additional 18,000 feet of fencing allows us to more efficiently manage several acres of pasture within multiple fields,” explains assistant livestock manager Stephanie Pittman. “Turbo Wire is less fence to haul than ElectroNet*, it’s cheaper and it’s hotter, so that the herd stays put.”

2016 Farm apprentice Lexi Berko putting up ElectroNet fence for rotational grazing, a time-consuming process that is repeated every other day or two. Photo by Eva Deitch.

Another big farm operations project recently completed at Glynwood was a more efficient apparatus for watering Glynwood’s cattle, sheep and goats. Our expansion field for vegetables high on the hill was already irrigated from a pump at Jordan Pond. This spring, 10,000 additional feet of pipeline was laid down to extend the pump’s supply across more fields. Tapping into float valves along the way, our livestock crew now has an easier method for accessing water on the spot, instead of hauling large tanks of it by truck across greater distances. The result? Minimal damage to soil and forage, less fuel consumption and improved time-management.

Farmer Training: Digging Trenches from Glynwood on Vimeo.

There are many benefits to multi-species rotational grazing, making the extra human effort entirely worth it and these upgrades to our regenerative farm operations all the more notable. The practice of moving herds and flocks around to graze, while giving other pastures time to “rest,” improves and supports pasture polyculture, requires little to no extra fertilizer or pesticides, minimizes fossil fuel inputs, and improves soil health. It also increases yield of animal product per acre, presenting to farmers a potential for higher net profit.

*ElectroNet is still better suited for grazing Glynwood’s smaller ruminants, sheep and goats. At peak operation, Glynwood manages mixed herds of up to 50 head of cattle and 60 head of goats, and a mixed flock of 75 sheep. Glynwood’s pastured meat and eggs are available for sale through a variety of direct-to-consumer channels.

More information about rotational grazing and raising livestock sustainably in the Hudson Valley is available in our report, Pastured Protein: Ecological, Humane and Healthy Meat from the Hudson Valley.