Thursday, April 29, 2010

Moveable Sheep Pen - update

I've been working hard to get our moveable sheep pen back into working order. Had to pull off working on the grapes to get it going again. We are almost out of hay and do have some grass to graze so I really needed to get it going again.

Last year took it's toll on the pen. It did not fare well over rough ground and the rams beat the day lights out of it. So I installed three tamarack poles and put short chains at every joint. In addition I ran a chain down the center, the entire length of the pen. And angle chains at every joint as well.

All I had before for strength was 2 x 4's bolted at the ends and 2 x 4 rails down the sides. The pulling action was all on the cattle panels themselves. They did not hold up well to that kind of tension. They broke and stretched and bent while going over rough ground and running over saplings. So in the video below I show how I fixed it.

Every joint has a chain. The tamarack poles are securely fastened to the existing 2 x 4's with long carriage bolts. Now all the pulling action is on the lower frame work rather than on the panels. Plus I installed the long chain down the center which is bolted to all three tamarack poles. This is a much stronger rig now. A weak point was the centers of the boards. As it was pulled they would break in the middle if pulled over rough terrain. The tamarack poles should fix that.

Another modification was to install anti-ramming boards. Kelli and I observed that the rams did not hit the fence if there was an obstruction in the way. We had a box which a mineral block sat on. We saw that Dakota would not ram the fence at that point. So we wondered if we put something around the pen if that would keep them from banging the thing to pieces. Last year they beat holes right through the plywood. The plywood was put on to keep them from destroying the cattle panel between them. They head butted constantly before that. Even after the plywood was on they still rammed it. It did not take long before holes were broken through. The anti-ramming boards are placed at a height that would hit them in the legs, chest or neck depending on what exact spot they rammed. They no longer want to hit it full out like they used to. The only thing I've seen so far is Dakota will jump up on the boards and hit the plywood but, by doing so he does not have near the force as before. Otherwise they will rake their horns against the panels or the plywood but, doing that they don't do any damage.

I call them anti-ramming boards. I don't know if anyone else uses anything like it but so far it is working well.

Another modification was to mount the water buckets on the sides instead of the ends. I had them mounted on the ends last year. On the ends, the buckets sloshed lots of water out when I moved the pen. I realized that the ends kind of chattered as it was pulled. The sides do not. I hauled an awful lot of water last year due to sloshing. These sheep don't drink very much. Since I put these ones out on pasture I've only filled the buckets one time other than the initial filling, with the buckets on the sides.

The only thing I have left to do on the pen is to brace up the anti-ramming boards and put a partial top on it. I don't plan on using a tarp like I did last year. A tarp wasn't what I had in mind to begin with anyway. I just ran out of time and that's all we did last year. My plan is to install three sheets of steel roofing. I already have the steal sheets, I only need to get them put on and I'll be done. Then on to other projects like more fencing around our grapes and more around one of our large sheep paddocks.

And on that note I'll mention that we have a Livestock Guardian Dog secured. It's a puppy actually but, the breeder requires good fences in place. So fences are our big projects so far this spring. Once we actually get the puppy I'll tell the details and describe the process I've under gone to acquire it. I'm very excited about the coming new addition to the farm.

In the video below you can see all the repairs and modifications described above.

I noticed after viewing the video here that when I uploaded to Youtube my captions did not stay exactly where I put them. So it might be a little confusing. Oh, well I'm not going to redo it now.

Pictured in the video are 6 of last years lambs plus our two rams Dakota and Titan. Dakota is Titans father. The lambs are all Dakota's off spring.

We have 5 pregnant ewes still in other pens until their babies are born. Later we will have them all on pasture.

Until Next Time


Blogger Leon said...

Very interesting - lots of good ideas in this design!

BTW, captions worked just fine for me.

9:19 AM  
Blogger RL said...

Thanks Leon! And thanks for the comment.

5:00 PM  

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