Farm Fencing: Horse High, Chicken Tight and Bull Strong

With farm fencing, there’s plenty to consider: Woven wire or high-tensile? Electric or non-electric? Here’s how to make the best choice for your animals.

| December 2011/January 2012

  • knowhow1
    You’ll likely need to combine several fencing types to corral different animals.
  • men-barbed-wire-fence
    Barbed wire fences work as strong physical and psychological barriers.
  • high-tensile-wire-fence
    High-tensile wire fences remain one of the most common fencing choices.
  • woven-wire-fence
    You can increase the effectiveness of a woven wire fence by adding a strand of barbed wire or electric wire at the appropriate heights for your animals.
  • electric-fence-illustration
    Electric fences are as safe as they are effective, and can be used in both permanent and portable installations.
  • braced-fence-corner
    Strong braces, such as this two-post horizontal brace, are necessary for your fence to outlast any weight and stress put on it.

  • knowhow1
  • men-barbed-wire-fence
  • high-tensile-wire-fence
  • woven-wire-fence
  • electric-fence-illustration
  • braced-fence-corner

Good farm fencing surely makes good neighbors, and with the right livestock fences, you and your critters will experience the joys of low-stress livestock management. A one-size-fits-all solution to livestock fencing doesn’t exist — you’ll need different kinds of fences for different purposes.

Fences work in two basic ways: physical and psychological. A 12-foot-tall stone wall in good repair will keep most animals in or out no matter how much they rub, scratch or try to climb it. Conversely, a fence created with a single strand of lightweight polywire conductor offers little in the way of a physical barrier, but it will serve as a psychological barrier after your animals have been shocked by it. The best fences integrate both physical and psychological components.

Wire Fencing Basics

Steel wire continues to be among the most economical materials from which to construct fences. Smooth steel wire is most often used to manufacture barbed wire or woven wire fence.

Wire fences rely on braced end posts and line posts installed between them to support the wire. Posts can be made of wood, steel, plastic or fiberglass. Typical installations include braced 7- to 8-inch-diameter wood end posts with steel T-posts in between. Steel posts are easy to drive by hand, while wood posts generally require you to dig post holes and tamp soil around each post.

Low-tensile (conventional) steel wire with a low carbon content is still used to construct most wire fences. This material bends and stretches easily, but is relatively inelastic — so if it stretches, it doesn’t contract back to its original state. These characteristics mean that it’s easy to work with, but also subject to sagging and breakage. Conventional wire requires more line posts spaced closer together for support than high-tensile wire.

High-tensile wire is more difficult to work with, but fences made of it stay tighter longer because the wire is stronger and more elastic. Working with high-tensile wire also requires greater care with setting end posts and braces due to the additional tension they must bear. While the high-tensile wire itself may cost more than its conventional counterpart, you can choose a lighter gauge high-tensile wire and get the same or greater strength than you would with conventional. High-tensile wire fences require fewer line posts, which saves money and labor overall. 

12/11/2013 1:29:14 AM

Yes, the wire mesh fencing manufacturers provide such various specifications like tight or broad and strong or thin.

12/26/2011 7:48:55 PM

The best fencing is a natural growing fencing. Osage orange is one of the best. The problem with natural fencing being that it takes time to grow. Wire fencing will need to be replaced and maintained. So put up a wire fence and plant a natural fencing to replace it.

J Schick
11/14/2011 4:38:31 AM

Keep in mind that wire strand fencing, particularly barbed wire, is dangerous to use with horses; they tend to get tangled up in it, panic, and severely injure/kill themselves.



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