Pasture Fencing: Choosing the Right Fit For your Animals
When it comes to fencing your pasture, you will have many decisions to make. One of the first decisions you will face is what type of fencing you should use for the pasture.
Each type of pasture fencing has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and some fencing types are better suited for certain kinds of animals. Here are the basics on four popular fencing types that you should know.
Barbed wire consists of galvanized wire strands twisted together with sharp barbs spaced every 4 to 5 inches apart. The barbs press into an animal’s skin, creating pain that causes the animal to step back from the fence. Barbed wire strands are typically wrapped around or stapled to wooden fence posts, and three to five strands of wire are usually stretched between the posts.
Barbed wire creates an effective barrier for cattle while easily covering large areas. Since line posts are usually spaced between 12 and 20 feet, the cost of fencing in large areas is kept at a minimum. Barbed wire fencing is a standard fencing type for cattle ranches, since a cow’s tough hide is not easily harmed by the barbs. Remember, though, that barbed wire is not an appropriate fencing for animals like horses, goats, or sheep, whose thinner hides can be easily cut and damaged by the barbs (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=6927).
Woven wire fencing consists of smooth line wires traveling horizontally, which are traversed by stay wires traveling vertically. The stay wires act to hold the line wires apart, and can be spaced from smaller increments like 1 ½” all the way up to larger 9” increments.
Because woven wire fencing is available in different sizes, it is important to select a size that is appropriate for the animals that it will be used to contain. Woven wire with stay wires in smaller increments creates a strong barrier against predators, so it can make a practical choice for containing non-horned sheep or goats. Woven wire fencing, when paired with strands of barbed wire, can also make a great fencing for cattle.
Wooden fencing, perhaps the most traditional fencing option, is appealing in its attractive appearance. Wooden fencing, or board fencing, is strong and safe for larger animals like horses or cattle. Posts are spaced between 8 and 10 feet apart, and each panel contains between 3 and 5 fencing boards.
The disadvantage of wooden fencing lies in its required maintenance and upkeep: regular painting is necessary to keep the fence in good shape. Horses may crib and chew on the fence, necessitating the replacement of boards. Wooden fencing is also fairly expensive to purchase, and installation is labor-intensive (https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/PB1541.pdf).
Electric fencing is a versatile, safe, and inexpensive type of fencing. Because electric fencing works by delivering a shock when an animal comes into contact with the fence, the fence doesn’t have to be as strong as other fencing types, since it won’t come under regular pressure.
There are several benefits to electric fencing. It is low-cost and is inexpensive to operate, and its initial installation is fast and easy. When positioned properly, electric fence can protect livestock against predators, so it’s a popular choice for protecting sheep and goats from coyotes. Electric fencing is also suitable for larger animals, such as horses and cattle.