Types of Fences for the Homestead

Learn about the different types of fences, and add value and security to your land by installing a well-built fence.

| February/March 2006

You’ve got a piece of land and a dream to keep some livestock, but your place doesn’t have good fences — not yet, anyway. Many types of fences are available, and installing a fence is a job you can do yourself.

Fencing can range from about $200 to $1,500 per quarter mile (1,320 feet), but your selection criteria will involve more than just the cost. Your choice should be based on the livestock you want, the terrain of your land, the life span of various fencing options and the amount of effort and tools it will take to build and maintain each type.

Fencing options include woven, barbed and high-tensile (both electrified and nonelectric) wire. Electrified poly wire/poly tape is another possibility, but for large livestock it’s only effective for temporary applications within permanently fenced fields. Typical fences are about 5 feet high, though any height is possible — I have a 7-foot-tall electric fence to keep out deer. The approximate material costs that follow are based on information taken from a July 2005 Iowa State University Extension report about livestock fencing (go to the Iowa State University Extension website and search for “fencing costs”).

Woven Wire Fence

Installation: about $1,500/quarter mile with a single strand of barbed wire on top; alternating between wooden posts and metal T-posts spaced 12 to 16 feet apart. (In most locations, you won’t need nearly so many wooden posts — maybe two for every quarter mile.) About 40 hours of labor

Ongoing maintenance: replacing and resetting staples, retensioning corners

Pros: strong, secure and relatively attractive; confines nearly all livestock, including sheep and goats

Cons: highest initial cost, most maintenance required

Devin Taylor
5/13/2009 12:44:24 PM

An alternative to wood that is common in oil patch country is used or reject pipe posts for braces. A single 2 3/8 or 2 7/8 post 8' every 100 ft with t-posts between, and a 'straight brace' - two pipe posts 4' apart with a top and mid rail made from the same pipe - every 400' or so. Corner and end braces are usually two pipe posts 8' to 10' apart, with a top and bottom rail and a diagonal pipe brace running from the top of the corner post to the bottom of the inset post. Set all corners and braces in sac-crete. Some farm stores and country weld shops even sell pre-welded braces and corners so no welder is needed. Just dig your two holes at the proper spacing then set the braces in the holes. Oil field pipe is much heavier than steel 'fence posts' carried at home improvement stores, typically running 3/16 to 5/16 wall vs 1/8th for 11 ga or 1/16th for 16 ga. And it is often cheaper too. Even heavily corroded or blown out pipe from failed pressure tests will last for decades even with no paint.

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