[Posted on October 17th, 2013 by Aaron Presley]
Many innovations have occurred in the ranch fencing industry in recent years, giving producers an array of options for fences to keep and protect livestock. Whether used as permanent, outskirt boundaries, temporary pasture dividers or to encircle a house, fences need careful planning and construction for efficient usefulness, long life and low maintenance.
Several decisions must be made when installing ranch fencing. First, what is the fence to be used for? For example, is it going to be a boundary fence or a fence to divide a pasture? Is the fence for sheep, cattle, horses or something else? What type of fence is best suited and where should the fence be constructed for maximum effectiveness? Other considerations include the type, spacing and setting of posts, gate location and construction, post assembly and installation of cattle guards.
THE MAIN PURPOSE
The first thought in deciding the best fence is the purpose for which it will be used. Livestock protection and keeping are the main reasons for considering fencing, but the fencing needs for various types of livestock vary widely. Here are some of the livestock types and situations with special requirements:
Most types of fence can be used with cattle, so most cattle producers assess factors such as expense, ease of construction and expected life of the fence when considering fencing strategy. In the past, woven wire and barbed wire were the most common fence types; however, high-tensile fencing is rapidly gaining popularity in Texas. Fence height for perimeter cattle fences should be a minimum of 54 inches.
When bulls are penned separately from cows, special attention must be paid to construction. Heavy posts with thick-gauge wire or cables are required, or electric fence may be effectively used. Fences for handling facilities must be strong enough to withstand heavy usage, tall enough to prevent escape, and clearly visible. Treated wood or heavy wire panel fences are preferred.
Ranch fencing for sheep do not have to be as tall as for cattle, but sheep have other special requirements. Keeping out predators like wolves is more important. Electric fences are particularly useful for discouraging predators such as dogs and coyotes. Barbed wire is not as effective with sheep, as the barbs tend to become covered with wool.
Visibility is an important trait in fencing for horses. Barbed wire should be avoided because there are many opportunities for horses to tear their hide on the barbs. High-tensile wire fences poses a threat to horses because they may become entangled in the strands. The chance of this can be decreased if high-tensile fences are made more visible by placing posts closer together, or hanging ribbons or something else from the wire. Board fences using lumber yards in Houston are ideal for horses. Woven wire also works well, particularly with a single board at the top so the horses can easily see the fence.