Fences can be used to confine or exclude animals, to divide distinct areas of your property, to improve aesthetics or to provide barriers. Fencing can be temporary or permanent, physical or psychological or both. In addition, fencing can be a substantial investment in your property, and should be planned to last anywhere from 25 to 50 years.
Options abound, so careful consideration and planning is essential to any fencing project. The first question you should ask yourself is, “What do I want my fence to do?” Do you need confinement for livestock? Is it necessary to exclude predatory animals? Do you want to section off a pond, pasture, or other individual area of your small farm? Your answer to this question will provide the foundation for next choices; once you’ve thought that through, you can move on to selection of the type of fencing right for you. Although fencing styles and uses vary greatly, a few basic principals apply when selecting the fencing that’s right for you and your acreage.
A barbed wire fence consists of at least two strands of smooth wire joined together with sharp barbs evenly spaced along the wire. These fences are recommended for use with cattle and goats. They are not, however, best used with sheep, horses, or swine due to poor effectiveness of confinement and/or higher likelihood of injury caused to the livestock by the fencing.
Woven or Mesh Wire Fences
These types of fences are extremely common on farms and acreages. Both are effective in confining animals and tend to be safe for livestock. Mesh wire, however, can be costly, so is recommended to be used only in smaller, confined areas. A great advantage of mesh wire is that it can be buried into the ground to help protect against unwanted burrowing animals.
High Tensile Fences
High Tensile fencing, constructed of extremely strong wire held in tension along posts, is a valuable tool for many farmers and acreage owners. Due to its ease of handling, relatively low maintenance, and lower cost than other options, it is a good choice in a number of situations. In addition, this type of fencing typically sees reduced stretch than regular wire fencing, thus extending its lifespan.
Rail fencing is most commonly used bordering the acreage house and out buildings. Under some circumstances it can be used at the property’s perimeter. Rail fencing can often be found on horse or other farms containing show animals. Rail fencing tends to be more expensive than other fencing options, but is highly attractive. It can be built of treated, painted or vinyl coated wood or PVC plastic. PVC is the most expensive of these options, but it is striking, can add a great deal to property value, and does not require
repainting as wood does.
Cable Wire Fences
Cable wire fencing consists of cables strung through holes in heavy wooden posts. Upkeep is relatively low, and effectiveness for confining livestock is high for these fences. Due to their higher production costs, they are used primarily around holding pens, corrals, or feedlots.
Electric fencing provides a reasonably safe and practical means of psychological fencing. The purpose is to deliver a shock sufficient enough to discourage further
contact with the fence, but not so strong as to injure the animal, domestic or otherwise.
These fences offer significantly lower start-up and operating costs, and are effective in protecting poultry and/or livestock from predators. The downside, however, is the potential danger these fences can carry if improperly installed or managed. Use only a professionally designed fence with an approved fence charger. Initial training is also recommended to avoid serious injury to humans or animals.
In addition to the functions fencing will serve, other considerations must be factored into the decision. Affordability of the project is a crucial element. If the initial costs overshadow the overall value, it may not be a good investment. The price of steel has been steadily climbing, and experts are not able to forecast relief in the near future, so this will be another consideration that may influence your fencing choices. Will you do the work yourself or hire a contractor? Consider the undertaking from all angles. As mentioned earlier, the fencing should last from 25 to 50 years, so you must decide from the start how many of those years you can dedicate to upkeep. Examples of ongoing maintenance factors are repainting, repairing breaks in the fence and replacing broken or decaying posts. The estimated lifespan of the fence will also have an impact on the overall costs. If you spend less now and replace the fencing in 15 years rather than 40 or
50, you probably aren’t saving money. Finally, evaluate your purchase holistically. Map out your acreage, paying special attention to the barriers you currently have. Will they need to be replaced soon? What other fencing do you currently have, and will it be in harmony with new fencing? Don’t focus so much on one area of the farm that you forget others. Do your homework, consult experts in the field, and carefully evaluate your needs and those of your farm, and you’ll be ready to go. Updated fencing can create a safer, more beautiful, and more secure environment. Get to building, and enjoy your new fence!