Producers are encouraged to have a plan before driving posts

While there are always lots of projects on a farm, building new fence is one that pops up on many producer’s spring project lists. Before jumping right in and pounding posts, there are a few considerations to make fencing an efficient process in the long run.

What are the Goals?

Before heading to the farm supply or hardware store, consider the purpose of the fence. Is it an ornamental fence to go around the farmhouse? Is it for a rotational grazing program? Is it to permanently house a breeding bull, boar or buck? Is it perimeter fencing around the entire farm to establish a boundary and keep the farm dogs from roaming? Will any of the fence be electric? Once the purpose of the fence has been determined, producers can move forward with purchasing materials and construction.

What Types of Fencing Are There?

There are numerous types of fencing available, each with a different purpose. Barbed wire fencing, while common and fairly cheap compared to other types, is not always the most effective. Depending on the brand, barbed wire can break easily, and many crafty animals have slipped out between the gaps in the strands (obviously, the more strands the tighter the fence) on a four- or five- strand fence. Barbed wire is also difficult to work with and causes many injuries in both livestock and humans. If caution is used and the number of strands is adequate, barbed wire can be used to keep in animals like bison or cattle that have tough hides. Woven wire fencing is a popular option on smaller farms since it can be utilized safely for many different animals. It costs more but is a long lasting and versatile option. Another option is electric wire, or hotwire, fencing. Electric wire is relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and can be permanent or temporary. Electric wire can also be installed on the inside of woven, smooth or barbed wire fencing to keep animals off the fence.

Fencing technology has drastically improved over the last 25 years. There are no “right” fence styles or types for all operations or situations; it is a matter of preference, professors Tom R. Troxel and Kenny Simon with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service have said. Economics must be considered when building, replacing or mending fences. Many producers shy away from electric fences in favor of the five-strand barbed wire or woven wire fence with metal T-posts. Today, high-tensile electric fences are generally more economical because they tend to be less expensive and are easier to install and maintain. The cost of materials for one mile of high-tensile fence is site specific. Factors to consider are corner posts, terrain and the type of animals to keep in or fence out. In Arkansas demonstrations, cost of installation of electric fence has averaged 32 cents per foot. Cost includes an energizer, ground rods, posts, wire and insulators. The cost of a five¬ strand barbed-wire fence (wire and metal T-posts) is approximately two to three times more per mile than a high-tensile fence, and the cost of a woven-wire fence with two strands of barbed wire on top is two to four times more per mile than a high-tensile fence. These estimates do not include corner posts, braces or labor.

What Kind of Animals Are Being Contained?

The type of animals that will live within the fence will help determine what types of fencing should be used.

“Sheep, goats, pigs and poultry are difficult to contain. They climb, dig or fly through many fences, so for years woven wire has been the choice for these animals. It’s also favored by many horse owners – as horses are less likely to get tangled in woven wire than in barbed wire – and because of its sturdy character, it’s often used for corrals and night-holding pens in areas with predator problems,” Carol Ekarius, farmer and Hobby Farms author said.

If a rotational grazing system is being implemented, electric wire can easily be used to create cross-fences to divide a large pasture with barbed wire or woven wire perimeter fence into smaller paddocks for cattle or sheep (be sure to purchase a quality fence charger for best results).

Call Before You Dig

Before digging post holes, be sure to call 1-800-DIG-RITE to have someone come out and check for buried electrical lines of any kind. Producers should also familiarize themselves with Missouri’s fence laws ( to avoid any potential legal conundrums with neighbors or other.


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