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WRITING

Building more fence to meet your regenerative grazing goals?

Check out these tips used on Noble Ranches to help streamline and save money on electric fencing.


Joe Pokay feared he might be fired.


Long before he became general ranch manager at Noble Research Institute, Pokay was managing a private ranch when an unexpectedly heavy rainstorm blew in and drenched the two-acre paddock where he was grazing 2,500 yearlings. 


“You can just imagine what that looked like,” Pokay recalls. “It was a mess, really mudded up. When I saw that, I thought I was done for.”


But he let the paddock rest, and 70 days later, he couldn’t believe what he saw.


“Once it recovered, it was the best spot on the whole ranch; it grew twice as much grass there as anywhere else. That’s when I started researching how I could do that more, better, because if I could grow twice as much grass there, what if I grew twice as much grass everywhere?”


It’s not a mistake he would suggest aiming for, but it got him thinking: What if building more fence to create smaller, more-intense grazing events could be seen as an opportunity, rather than a bore or a chore?


Pokay now oversees work on Noble’s six ranches, including the building of hundreds of miles of fencing for intentional, adaptive grazing of the 13,500 acres. He’s come to view building fence not as more work or an added cost, but rather, an exchange for less time in a tractor seat and less money flowing through a sprayer as their new approach to grazing management reduces the ranches’ dependency on hay and external inputs.


Here’s how he and others on the Noble Ranches team have learned to streamline the electric fence-building process, before ever setting a post.


PLAN AHEAD TO GET TO YOUR GRAZING GOALS

Start by creating a fencing plan that matches your grazing goals. Consider what fences should be permanent, what should be semi-permanent and what should be temporary. Consider your grazing strategy, the water resources and terrain, your budget, and the duration and intensity of your intended grazing strategy.


Once you have that plan in place, draw a quick sketch of where and how you want electrical power to run, where your chargers will be, and how and where to split energy sources. This will help forecast exactly what you need to build, trouble-shoot any challenges before you get in the field, and serve as a guide to help isolate problems as you go.   


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