The Points of Efficient Fence Work

man-constructing-fence

Having the proper tool can make tasks a more efficient venture in time and money.

Fence construction and repair is a common duty. It’s taxing on the body and for the wallet. For one handling that hard work, having the proper tool can make that task a more efficient venture in time and money.

For instance, a pneumatic stapler gun expedites fence construction with its rapid application. Posting long stretches of fence seems a bit more tolerable. To speed up the process, some fencers are using a fuel-cell stapler for better results.

Though sold under the Stock-ade name, the ST-4001, made by a subsidiary of Illinois Tool Works, is the fuel cell version of the company’s ST-400, a pneumatic stapler that has been on the market for several years.

As part of their beta testing, several users in the United States were given units to try under local conditions. Originally offered to the market at $1,000, it is expected to sell in the United States in the $700 range, making it best suited for someone who does regular fence jobs.

“There is no question that it will pay for itself if used regularly,�? Rick Jackmas, president of McArthur Lumber and Post, McArthur, Ohio.

He noted it is light enough and portable enough that a 10-year-old can use it all day. “But the tool will keep up the two-staples-a-second pace longer than any man can,�? he said.

Andy and Sam Gardner of Gardner Brothers Land, LLC agreed. Their operation feeds out replacement heifers for dairy producers in the Northeast and along the mountains into Virginia

“We usually put one guy on the gun for about 20 or 25 posts and then switch off,�? Sam Gardner said. However, he notes that the unit is not as light as it seems after it has been toted up and down hills for a day.

That said, most users say the best thing about the ST-400i is that it requires no compressor. Set-up and take-down time is close to zero because no truck or wagon access is required for power as would be needed with a pneumatic unit. Anyone who has run fence in hilly or boggy areas knows what a hassle it can be to get a pickup truck close enough to where the fence line work needs to be done. Usually, someone has to move the truck and help drag the compressor hose.

The 400i runs on fuel cells. As a result, stapling with the cordless stapler requires just one person for the job.

It works well on spot maintenance jobs, hilly projects, or full-farm electric or woven fencing, Jackmas said.

Andy Gardner agreed. “We do a lot of high-tensile fencing,�? he said. Last year, his company had one job alone that involved 15,000 feet of high tensile fence installation.

“You need to make high tensile ‘hot’ for it to be effective,�? Andy said. He’s aware that producers in some areas do not electrify fence. However, given the choice, he said he always would go with juice.

They also have experience using the 400i on woven wire and barbed wire, too.

The typical package from the manufacturer includes a box of 1,200 staples shipped with two fuel cells for the stapler.

They drive two staples per insulator. Figuring it costs 32 cents per insulator and 12 cents for the cell and staples, they figure they have about 56 cents tied up in each installation.

Better yet, the Gardners have had no malfunctions with their demonstration unit.

“It is consistent,�? Andy added.

That consistency is helped by a guide that comes with the insulator attachment. “As long as you take the insulator attachment and put it in the guide hole, it is pretty foolproof,�? Andy said.

That is, unless you need to remove a staple. The staples have barbs that make them even tougher should pressure be put on the fence. The driving depth is adjustable to assure no damage to the fencing.

“Once they are in there, they are in there,�? he noted.

Jackmas credits the positive placement to the fact that there is no wiggling around when the staples are driven into the fence post. It is “POP!�? and then they are set straight into the timber.

Like the Gardners, he typically sees a 1.75-inch staple for most fencing applications.

“It’s a great product,�? Andy said. “My guys are completely sold and would probably revolt if we had to go back to hand-driving staples in insulators.�?

“We really like the gun,�? Andy added. Noting that his crews are fencing from the fall into early March, he says the ST-400i is “way more than adequate.�?

“We are fortunate, blessed and humbled,�? Sam added. “Our fencing business complements our replacement heifer operation. And this fencing business just keeps growing!�?

Five Questions with Victoria Diegnan of Seneca Dairy Systems

image of a dairy farm with fencing

Seneca Dairy Systems was established in 1978 as Green Valley Welding. According to their website, Green Valley Welding was a small business that began manufacturing freestalls and other farm and dairy equipment for local farmers. Seneca Iron Works purchased Green Valley Welding in 1999 and began investing in technology.

Victoria Diegnan is the Marketing Coordinator for Seneca Dairy Systems/Seneca Iron Works.

FARMING:
What is the importance of having the right dairy equipment on the farm?

Diegnan:
The short answer is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Having the proper barn equipment can make all the difference in how animals use facilities and if they will thrive in a barn. Equipment such as stalls, lockups/feedrail/feed panels, and waterers will affect the animals’ day to day activities of resting, eating and drinking; all of which will affect the cow’s health and milk production. A poorly designed facility or one that contains improper sized, inadequate, or broken equipment will have lower producing, potentially less healthy animals.

FARMING:
In terms of technology and materials, dairy equipment come a long way in the past few decades. How does Seneca Dairy Systems keep up with those advancements?

Diegnan:
We are constantly evaluating our products and how they function as the needs of the dairy evolve. For example, as the average size of dairy cows has increased over the years, we have made necessary changes in our stalls, lockups and gates to properly accommodate these larger animals. We hot‐dip galvanize our products to offer the strength and durability the modern farmer needs. All of our products are cow comfort, efficiency and safety focused. Just within this past year we have redesigned our lockups, fold‐up, swing & crowd gates, tip tank waterers, as well as developed new technology for our barn climate control system.   

FARMING:
What is the process that the company goes through to install equipment?

Diegnan:
Installation is another thing that sets us apart. We work directly with farmers and contractors to schedule any installation that the customer needs. We offer installation on all our products and it is done by professionals in a timely, organized manner. We back all of the products and installs with an Installation and Tech Support division solely dedicated to making sure we are meeting or exceeding the expectations of our customers.

FARMING:
How does Seneca Dairy Systems help customers decide what piece of equipment is right for them?

Diegnan:
Seneca has a full staff of sales people, engineers and designers with decades of experience in the dairy industry. There isn’t much our team hasn’t seen! We do on farm consultations that include walk throughs and evaluation of current facilities, and discussions with farmers to understand their goals and how we can help to achieve them. The animals, management practices and budget are all considered in order to ensure the farm has a facility that will be profitable for many years. We work with farmers, builders, contractors, veterinarians, consultants and even creditors to be sure the needs of the dairy are met.     

FARMING:
What trends in dairy equipment are you seeing for 2017?

Diegnan:
With heightened attention on cow comfort and labor issues in the dairy industry, we are seeing more automation on farms. This trend can be seen in more robot milking facilities and the interest in automatic ventilation controls, calf feeding options, and other equipment that improves operational efficiencies. There is a greater demand for technology on dairies and Seneca is constantly innovating products to keep up with that demand.   

Five Questions is a FarmingMagazine.com monthly series that discusses industry-related topics with the people who influence the industry.