When containing livestock, producers have options but there must be visual and physical barriers

When it comes to fencing, it’s very important to determine what will work best for the species of livestock the operation has, or what it plans to have.

Fencing choices seem to be endless, with everything from woven mesh to standard cattle panels, and wooden slats to electric wire, but what’s the best choice?

While most people are familiar with fencing options for cattle, what is the best type of fencing for other species of livestock? The most important thing producers can remember is that fences should be a physical and/or a visual deterrent for animals.


A good choice for horses, according to both Mark Green, lead research conservationist out with the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Springfield, Mo., and Robert Schultheis, who is the natural resource engineering specialist with the University of Missouri Extension Center, is an electric fence.

A good hot wire will work great, but producers should train animals as to what it is. Green recommends creating a lot trap; a place where it is safe for when the horse gets the initial “bite.”

If they learn what the hot wire will do, they should avoid it once they are out in the pasture.

Another thing producers might consider is making sure the fence is marked in order to make it more visible.

There are other fence systems for horses that work as well. Producers can use a smooth wire in order to avoid barbed and the possible injuries that could arise.

A cautionary point made by Green is to make sure to avoid laying out pastures where a horse can get cornered by another horse. Also be sure there is plenty of feed or grass in the pasture as this is why animals reach through the fence.

Sheep and goats

For goats, Schultheis suggested using a welded wire fence system or a five-strand tensile fence at least 4-feet high (5-feet high for bucks or rams).

Fencing for sheep or goats must be strong because they have a tendency to lean on it. Keep in mind that goats will try to get out of anything and producers might have to place an overhang wire at the top of the fence towards the inside.

It may also be a good idea to use electric or even a barbed wire.

Sheep and goats are much more clever than one may think, so it is also a good idea to use snap hooks on the gates as they are able to unlatch other types of hardware.

For those who prefer to go with a hot wire system, Green recommends using at least three lines for goats and four for sheep.


With their rooting nature, many producers have concerns over the containment of pasture swine.

Schultheis recommends using a strong woven wire fencing, with a strand of barbed wire along the bottom for a good perimeter. Green believes that a good hot wire is sufficient enough to keep wandering swine contained.

Producers are reminding that no fence is a guarantee and animals can, and will, escape, so make sure that fences are inspected often and any needed repairs are made immediately.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here