Replacing gates with risers that lift up electric fencing may be beneficial to producers looking to save time and money.
Several producers are taking advantage of tools that lift electric wire, allowing cattle to walk under the wire instead of through a gate.
“I love using these lifters. They are by far one of my favourite tools to use,” said Deanne Chuiko of St. Walburg, Sask. “We’ve used them with permanent high-tensile wire or any temporary electric fencing wire.”
Chuiko’s risers are made from PVC pipe around eight feet in length. “There is high-tensile wire running through the PVC pipe that makes connection with the hotwire at the top of the lifter,” she explained. “That high tensile wire then runs down the inside, and the ends stick out around the middle. This prevents the cows from rubbing on them.”
Chuiko learned of this technique at a holistic management course in 2016. “We thought it would be a very effective tool to use with our planned grazing,” she said. “We could now move cows in and out of paddocks wherever we needed to, whether there was a gate there or not.”
Mike Swidersky of Melancthon, Ont., decided to try this idea himself after seeing a friend using a similar tool. “He was using a 2×6 piece of lumber with an insulator on top and electric fence wire on the sides to prevent the cattle from rubbing and knocking it over. My design was a spin-off from that,” he said.
Swidersky’s risers are fully electrified, made from stainless steel milk pipe that he salvaged from his barn. “There is a groove in the top to hold the wire. One half-inch ABS sewer pipe is fastened to the top and middle for insulated handles. A piece of ABS pipe with a cap is fastened on the bottom to insulate the ground.”
By lifting the wire and training cattle to walk underneath, Swidersky found several benefits in addition to the cost saved on constructing gates. It provides flexibility in his intensive grazing system, as it allows for a variety of pasture sizes, and he finds it faster to move cattle this way. “If the cattle ever happen to get out they can be returned anywhere the wire can be lifted,” he added.
Chuiko also found that using these lifters is less expensive and time-consuming than constructing gates, and they allow for more versatility and ease in moving cattle. “Our cows now recognize when we have a lifter with us and know it’s time to move.”
For those interested in constructing their own risers, Chuiko recommends that producers make extras, as her family uses them year round. “If using with temporary electric fence, we pound a rebar in first and slide the lifter over it. It helps keep it upright as the wire usually isn’t tight enough to hold it up on its own,” she said. “When using it with high tensile wire, no rebar is usually needed.”
She finds that it doesn’t take long for cattle to become accustomed to moving under the propped-up wire. “If there are a couple cows that won’t go under, we’ve strung up some electric fence behind them, so they can’t go too far.”
Swidersky runs yearlings on grass, and he uses two risers to train them to walk under the wire, moving the cattle once or twice a day until they are used to it.
“They seem to treat them like a gate and go between them,” he said. “I try to make it easy for them by cutting off corners near them so they flow through easily and follow each other while training.”
He also suggests placing a water trough on the other side of the fence to entice the cattle to move under the wire.