More from: Farming Supplies

Animal Fencing: To Replace or Repair?

This is the time of year when farmers start planning winter maintenance projects. Among those projects is the dreaded task of addressing fences. If you have more than a mile or two of fencing on your property, chances are you are looking at having to repair or replace some of it within the next year. So which do you choose?

To replace or repair is a question that has plagued landowners for generations. In a perfect world, repairing animal fencing would be the most cost-effective way of keeping things going without endangering animals or interrupting grazing. But sometimes repairs just don’t make sense. Sometimes it is better to replace broken fencing altogether.

The Cost Factor

We get that farmers have to look long and hard at the cost of replacement versus repair. We also understand that tearing down all your old barbed wire fences and replacing them with modern, electric fences will require quite a substantial financial investment. But you must weigh the upfront costs of replacement with the ongoing costs of maintenance and repairs.

We have heard stories of landowners repairing the same barbed wire fences for decades. At some point they realize they do not have a solid piece of fencing remaining on their properties. They have been repairing the fences for so long that they are left with miles and miles of patchwork. How much time and money have they put into those fences?

The Labor Factor

Farmers also have to consider how much labor they invest in fence maintenance and installation. One thing we know for sure is that installing a new barbed wire fence is considerably more labor-intensive than erecting an electric fence. So if you are going to replace anyway, you’ll put a lot less effort into electrified fencing.

A decision to repair your fence is sufficient motivation to step back and consider how much labor will go into the project. If you are still using barbed wire, could you affect the same repairs on an electric fence in less time and with less labor? In the long run, will you invest less labor in maintaining a new electric fence as opposed to sticking with barbed wire?

We understand that none of these decisions can be made by anyone other than you. We don’t know your situation or circumstances. We don’t know your budget. We don’t know how much time you have to invest in fence maintenance and replacement. What we do know is that modern, electrified fencing has a lot to offer. We think it’s a better long-term solution than barbed wire.

Getting Some Help

In closing this post, we want our customers to know that there is financial help available to landowners looking to install new fencing. As just one example, we ran across an interesting article in Beef Magazine talking about a Canadian organization that offers a cost-sharing program for landowners. They pay to have new electric fencing installed while the landowners agree to pay for all future upkeep and maintenance.

Closer to home, there are occasional grant programs available at both the federal and state levels. For farmers who rent their land, there is always the option of working with the landlord to see if a cost-sharing deal can be worked out. Landlords are often willing to contribute to new fencing once they understand how important it is to keeping property value stable.

Regardless of your choice to repair or replace animal fences, know that Mytee Products carries a full inventory of electrified fencing products. We invite you to take a look at our inventory here online.

 


Here’s the #1 Reason We Sell Moisture Testers

Mytee Products was built around the idea of selling cargo control supplies to flatbed truckers. We started with basics like truck tarps, chains, webbing straps, and the like. We eventually expanded into other kinds of tarps along with truck tires and trailer equipment. But today, our inventory also includes agriculture supplies. Moisture testers are a good example.

You might think it odd for a company like ours to sell moisture testers. That’s fine. We want you to know why we do it. We think there is a lot of value in offering local farmers a couple of key items they can easily get through us rather than having to send away for them.

With that said, let us get back to the main point: why we sell moisture testers. The number one reason for doing so is encapsulated in a sobering article published by the Abilene-RC.com website in early November (2018). The headline of the article is Mold in Corn Causing Livestock Deaths. That about says it all.

Fumonisin Mycotoxin Killing Animals

A mycotoxin is a secondary substance produced by various kinds of fungus. Mycotoxins in an agricultural setting are almost always a threat to animal health; often times they are deadly. Such is the case with the fumonisin mycotoxin. It has been wreaking havoc in Dickson County, Kansas in recent weeks.

According to the article, both horses and swine in north-central Kansas have fallen victim to the mycotoxin. Rabbits have been affected as well. Where is this mycotoxin coming from? Mold growing within local plant life. They believe the particular problem in Kansas has to do with moldy corn.

If the mold manages to grow in the plant portion of the corn, it can eventually attach itself to the kernels as well. This is normally not a problem at harvest time as long as moisture levels are controlled. But if the corn is allowed to retain too much moisture, the mold grows, multiplies, and starts releasing the fumonisin mycotoxin.

Conditions in north-central Kansas are perfect for fumonisin problems right now. Unfortunately, the local area had a very wet autumn in concert with a spring that saw normal rainfall. The weather produced ideal conditions for mold to grow.

Hay Can Experience Similar Problems

Mytee Products sells a number of moisture testers for both grain and hay testing. Although hay was not mentioned in the Abilene-RC.com article, it is subject to similar kinds of problems. Hay with too much moisture can easily promote mold growth throughout an entire winter season of storage. That mold can result in exposure to at least half-a-dozen different mycotoxins that can have varying effects on cattle.

Some of the mycotoxins associated with most hay produce little more than the animal equivalent of allergies or the common cold. But others can be quite debilitating – or even deadly. We advocate for the regular use of moisture testers for this very reason. It is imperative that proper moisture levels be maintained while hay is in storage. Otherwise, the lives of animals could be at risk.

We get that farmers long relied on experience and intuition in the days before moisture testers existed. We certainly appreciate that as well. But the modern moisture tester represents technology capable of giving farmers a very accurate reading. Why not make full use of it? A moisture tester could mean the difference between preventing mycotoxin exposure or standing by while animals get sick.

 


Your Electrified Fence May Someday Auto Adjust

To our friends who routinely purchase electrified fencing supplies from Mytee Products, how do you feel about having to move your fencing in order to accommodate feeding patterns? It’s a big job. We know of quite a few farmers who don’t bother. They build multiple fences around different areas of pasture land so that they don’t have to move anything.

The good news for you is that you may someday have access to electrified fencing that automatically adjusts itself. As crazy as it sounds, the idea is currently under development at a farm in Ireland. Two brothers, tired of having to move their fences in step with strip grazing practices, set about inventing a device that automatically moves fencing for them.

A Painstaking Job

We promote electrified fencing as an alternative to barbed wire for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that moving fence is a painstaking job regardless of the fence type you use. Electrified fencing is a lot easier to move. Why? Because there are fewer posts and wires involved. You also do not have to anchor posts as deeply.

Even so, it is a lot of work. So the two Irish farmers decided to do something about it. They figured they could come up with something better by combining their electrified fencing with GPS technology and cheap robotic drives. It turns out they were right.

The two brothers invented a system that lets them use what they call a ‘hot wire’ extending across an entire run of fence to determine how much grass is available to cattle. The fence is connected to a pair of robotic drives that constantly control the perimeter in response to grazing. This not only solves the problem of having to move fencing, but it also allows the brothers to guarantee that a given patch of grass land is fully consumed before the animals are moved to a new location.

For the record, the entire rig sits atop a series of spider wheels that can be controlled remotely. The system runs on rechargeable batteries that can go for up to two full days without being recharged. Its inventors always know the exact location of the fence thanks to on-board GPS.

An Award-Winning Invention

The brothers say it’s going to be several years before their invention is ready for mass market sales. In the meantime, they are just happy to know that it works. And does it ever. Their automatic fence is so impressive that it recently won two awards at a prestigious agricultural show in Ireland.

The judges were impressed with the system’s ability to automatically move according to a programmed schedule that calculates the best time for moving. As for the brothers, they say their invention prevents selective grazing and contamination, leads to better use of grasslands, and makes cattle management more efficient.

Buying Electrified Fencing Supplies

If the brothers eventually succeed in getting their invention to market, it could change the way you buy electrified fencing materials in the future. It will certainly change the way you handle installations. Maybe in addition to purchasing fencing wire and energizers from Mytee Products, you’ll also be buying the robotic drives too. We wouldn’t mind that at all.

In the meantime, rest assured that you can continue buying your electrified fencing supplies from Mytee Products. We carry fencing rope, tape, and wire, along with both solar and traditionally powered energizers. Also don’t forget to check out our hay tarps and temporary storage buildings while you’re here. You might find them useful as well.


Ag Tire Life Is Ultimately About Air Pressure

Tractor and wagon tires take an awful lot of punishment on the farm. They are some of the toughest pieces of equipment farmers own. Surprisingly though, the most important factor determining tire life is not the work tires do or the conditions they are subject to. No, ag tire life is ultimately about air pressure.

Rubber casings and steel belts obviously play a significant role in tractor and wagon tire performance. But casings and belts are really just a house for air. It is the air inside the tires that supports the weight of a tractor or wagon. It is the air that gives an otherwise soft tire its solid structure. Maintaining correct tire pressure maximizes life; not maintaining pressure reduces life. It is all pretty simple.

Tire Pressure During Winter

Your average tractor owner knows enough to check tire pressure during the spring, summer, and fall. After all, the owner is using the tractor just about every day. It is winter that causes the most problems for tire pressure. Tractors and wagons put in storage can be forgotten until the snow melts and the ice thaws. That’s a mistake.

A good rule of thumb is to check tractor and wagon tires at least twice a week over the winter. Note that temperature plays a crucial role in tire pressure. As temperatures fall, so does tire pressure. It goes back up as the temperature rises. What does this tell you? It tells you that prolonged periods of sustained cold could make your tires soft enough to affect both tread and sidewall. Air should be added when temperatures begin to rise.

It is interesting that tractor tires do not hold a lot of air to begin with. Anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds is normal. In terms of cold temperatures though, tractor tires tend to lose a pound of pressure per square inch for every 10° the temperature falls. The time of biggest concern is that the point of the first cold snap of the season.

Liquid Filled Tires

There are times when tractor and wagon owners decide to fill their tires with fluid to keep them in better shape for the winter. That’s not a bad idea for preserving sidewalls and maintaining a good footprint. Yet tires should never be filled with water. Water expands when it freezes, which could be hazardous for tractor and wagon tires.

Experts recommend being very careful when buying used tires from warm weather climates. Let’s say you are buying tires from Florida or Southern California, where freezing is near impossible. The seller you are purchasing from may have filled tires with water, not even thinking about it. One hard freeze on your property in Ohio could mean big problems.

We Recommend New Tires

Here at Mytee Products, we understand that circumstances sometimes dictate purchasing used tires. We recommend buying new whenever possible. New tires are going to offer many more years of reliable service as long as they are taken care of. You never know how long used tires will last.

You might already be making plans to put your tractor and wagons away for the winter. In a couple of more weeks, you’ll be ready to set aside working in the field in favor of getting some of that back-office work done. Just remember that your tractor and wagon tires need to be maintained over the winter. Check air pressure at least twice a week. And if you are going to use liquid to fill your tires, make sure you use something that won’t freeze.


Horse Owners Are Picky About Hay Moisture Too

Hay stored by growers this winter will be used to feed both cattle and horses alike. Often times, discussions surrounding hay moisture levels are focused squarely on cattle and their needs. And yet horses are also affected by moisture levels. Suffice it to say that horse owners are picky about the hay they purchase.

Numerous factors ranging from moisture levels to storage practices can affect the quality, nutritional value, and safety of stored hay. Where horses are concerned, there are a number of molds that can be problematic. Here is just a short sampling of four of them:

Aspergillus – A health condition associated with this kind of mold can be quite harmful to older horses, younger horses, and animals with compromised immune systems. The spores of the aspergillus mold get into the lungs before spreading to other parts of the body. They can affect the heart, kidneys, blood, skin, and eyes.

Fusarium – The fusarium mold can cause respiratory distress and colic. More importantly, the mold can produce mycotoxins that could present acute problems for horses. This is a mold that horse owners definitely want to avoid.

Penicillium – The penicillium mold is the same mold from which we derive penicillin. It is also what produces blue cheese. Unfortunately, the mycotoxins it produces can be very problematic for horses. They can cause allergic reactions including irritation to the lungs, skin, and digestive tract.

Rhizopus – This mold is actually pretty common. It is responsible for bread mold, among other things. It can cause respiratory and digestive tract infections in horses.

Preventing Mold Growth in Hay

The best way to stop mold from growing in hay stores is to control both moisture and storage environments. We will begin with moisture levels. Experts recommend that hay intended for horses be harvested somewhere between 12% and 14%. Slightly lower is okay too. Once harvested, growers should be using electronic moisture testers to check on moisture levels on a regular basis.

Properly stored hay is easier to handle in terms of maintaining moisture levels. Hay should be stored in a dry, well ventilated area with plenty of room between bales for air to circulate. Bales should be kept away from direct contact with the ground. Mytee Products offers a number of effective storage solutions ranging from hay tarps to temporary storage structures.

Inspecting Hay Prior to Feeding

Growers can do all the right things to guarantee good moisture levels and proper hay storage and yet still have trouble. Buyers can cause their own troubles by not storing hay properly. In either case, experts recommend that horse owners thoroughly inspect hay before feeding it to their animals.

Owners should be breaking open baled hay and checking for mold growth inside. It is possible for bales to look completely fine on the outside but still be riddled with mold internally. They should also be smelling their hay prior to feeding. Odors can go a long way toward determining whether mold is present or not.

Hay that does not smell right is probably suspect. Experts recommend paying attention to a dusty or musty smell. Any such smell is sufficient evidence to suggest that hay could make a horse sick.

It is that time of year again when horse owners start looking for the hay that will feed their animals through spring. Smart growers will protect both their sales and their crops by maintaining proper moisture levels and in adhering to solid hay storage practices. If you are a grower in need of a moisture tester or storage solutions, Mytee Products has what you need.