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University of Minnesota Extension

Extension > Agriculture > Livestock > Dairy > Grazing systems > Knee deep in grass: A survey of twenty-nine grazing operations in Minnesota > Equipment


Brian Loeffler, Helene Murray, Dennis G. Johnson, Earl I. Fuller
Reviewed 2008

In general, graziers said they eliminated the use of some equipment and reduced the operational time of most equipment still in use. For example, several farmers eliminated the use of upright silos as well as row crop production equipment. Most equipment savings resulted from the reduced amounts of feed harvesting, storage, processing and manure handling. Information about specific changes in equipment use for all farms was not documented because it did not seem particularly useful. However, specific information about types of fencing and watering equipment in use was reported. Most agreed that fencing and watering cattle in a grazing system has been simplified because of technological advances in wire, fence posts, fence chargers, water lines and coupling devices.

Fencing equipment

Graziers reported using many types of wire and posts in both permanent and temporary fences. High tensile and smooth steel wire were used by many graziers for perimeter and other permanent (paddock layout) fencing. Perimeter fences in pastures previously continuously grazed often consisted of woven and barbed wire. Some other types of wire used for permanent fencing include maxi-shock, aluminum, used telephone wire and poly wire. Poly wire was used to do most temporary fencing (cross wires); poly tape and smooth wire were occasionally used.

Graziers reported that wood and steel posts were commonly used for permanent fencing. Plastic, fiberglass and steel T-posts were usually used for temporary fencing. Other fence posts used include steel rebar, eucalyptus posts (without insulators) and Fiberglass™ rods discarded from the oil industry.

All but four graziers said they were using low impedance-type fencers. Reported advantages were the ability to use them with poly wire and tape, durability and ability to function when wire is in contact with plants or the soil surface.

Estimated fencing costs for the implementation of MIG ranged from $0 - $11,000 per farm. The average spent on fencing was $2,221. This amount depended upon existing levels of fencing equipment in use or present on the farm, size of pasture and paddock design. In some cases, post pounders, lane construction and fencer energizer costs were included. Costs were generally higher for those without existing pastures.

Watering equipment

Graziers supplying water in the pasture usually purchased some new equipment. Supplying water with 3/4" to 1" black plastic pipe appeared to be the standard. Water lines were generally laid on the ground surface. Buried lines were reported by a few respondents. Most water lines were equipped with quick coupling devices to allow fast and easy attachment to garden hoses connecting to water tanks. Half barrels equipped with automatic floats were commonly used for both portable and stationary water tanks.

Respondents reported spending an estimated average of $627 on watering equipment; estimates ranged from $0 to $5,000.

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