When it comes to finding the right style of fencing for your livestock, there is no one solution that is best for everyone; finding the right solution will depend on a number of factors, such as your budget, land, level of expertise and the animals themselves. It should prevent any escape, and serve to keep more vulnerable livestock safe from predators, such as foxes and badgers.
Read more below about some of the most popular styles of fencing for keeping livestock, from the very small to the very large, what to expect in terms of installation, maintenance and longevity, and how to ensure that you are going to get the most value out of your choice of fencing.
Originally utilised in nineteenth century Illinois as an effective means of keeping cattle herds in their place, barbed wire remains an extremely effective and hard-wearing solution for a wide variety of requirements.
Barbed wire is routinely utilised at the perimeters of fields and properties for which privacy, security, or controlling the movements of livestock are necessary. As a result, it is designed to offer a strong and reliable level of fortification effective against members of the public and animals, without the need for installing a line of electricity.
- Installation and Maintenance
Installing a barbed wire fence is relatively straightforward, provided you are mindful of tensioning the wire enough to provide adequate protection against escape or intrusion, without running the risk of the wire snapping.
In much the same way, barbed wire fencing can be quickly and easily repaired through Gripple tensioning, which is a process used not only for re-tensioning loose wires, but also for regulating the load applied, which will ensure that any repair work produces uniform and long lasting results for your fencing.
With the right tool, this method is simple, straightforward and, by creating consistent tension across the length of the fence, will serve to conserve the life of the wires themselves.
Barbed wire is hard-wearing, durable and, provided it is well maintained, long lasting, though the exact lifespan of a barbed wire fence will vary depending on the tensioning, the metal, the coating used, the quality of the product, and, of course, the amount of wear and tear it sees over the years.
As mentioned, the best way to ensure that it lasts for as long as possible (in some cases, more than twenty years) is to ensure that the tensioning is even without being so taught that it is liable to break.
This offers a proactive step toward deterring both humans and animals from breaking through to the other side of the fence, and works with a variety of voltages in order to warn against further contact. It is available as a tape, wire, or rope, in a variety of colours that will either blend in with the landscape, or stand out as a deterrent, and as a kit, which offers everything you will need to create an electric enclosure from scratch.
Although the tape, rope or wire typically used for electrical fences is relatively weak – particularly when compared with the robustness of a wood or barbed wire enclosure – the addition of an electrical current offers a strong and effective line of defense in the control of livestock, as well as in home security and land division.
It can be equally as effective at keeping larger animals, like horses, cattle and sheep, from breaking through, and keeping smaller animals, such as chickens and rabbits, safe from predators.
When used for larger animals such as horses, it is advisable to opt for a more visible option, such as tape.
- Installation and Maintenance
Installing an electric fence takes time, but it isn’t as complicated as many people imagine it to be, particularly when you begin with a starter kit that provides all the equipment you will need to erect and electrically charge the fencing. While energisers can be battery powered or connected to the mains, solar power is also an effective and sustainable option for anyone seeking to mitigate their carbon footprint.
In order to ensure that the energiser is delivering a consistent and unbroken electrical charge along the full length of the fence, you will have to check the perimeter regularly; common problems include electrical shorts or weak output from your energiser, but these can be fixed simply and quickly provided you are able to trace the source of the fault.
When properly installed, an electric fence can last for many years; permanent cable, for instance, can work for up to thirty years. Choosing a UV protected tape or wire will ensure that it is able to withstand continued exposure to daylight, and regular maintenance and checks will mean that you are able to detect and repair any fluctuations in current with ease.
Post and Rail
A classic and hardwearing option, post and rail is the quintessential fencing option for paddock divisions. The timber can be cut in a variety of styles, and offers a more natural and attractive, though extremely durable option.
Due to its stability, post and rail fencing remains a popular choice for paddock grazing horses; when compared with wire fencing, the higher level of visibility acts as a good deterrent, although using high quality timber and stakes is vital, as some horses will make use of the wood for scratching. This can be prevented by combining electric wire fencing with the posts and rails, but this needs to be done carefully to ensure that the wire does not touch the post.
Post and rail can also be effective for cattle and other, smaller livestock.
- Installation and Maintenance
Installing a post and rail fence is one of the more labour intensive options, and the posts will need to be driven firmly into the ground, but the results are strong, durable and incredibly long lasting.
They will require regular checks and maintenance; ensuring that nails are not protruding, and that the posts remain stable. This will help you to prolong the life of the fence. Similarly, choosing a hardwearing wood that has been suitably pressure-treated to BS 8417 will ensure that it is resilient, and much less prone to rot.
In cases where a vertical post has been subjected to more wear and tear (for instance, where livestock has caused damage), replacing it is simple and straightforward, and needn’t impact the rest of the fence line.
If you have chosen posts and rails that have been suitably pressure-treated, then you can be sure that the fence will last for a minimum of fifteen years. With proper maintenance and regular checks for damage or rot, they can last much longer.
Traditionally, coal tar creosote has been used as an effective treatment against rot and insects, which can burrow into the wood and undermine its structural integrity. This product is, however, currently under heavy restriction within the UK, and is only available for purchase and use by professional users.
Galvanised Steel Fencing
Galvanised steel is an incredibly resistant, hard wearing and long-lasting material for fencing. Requiring minimal maintenance and offering ease of installation, it can be used to great effect for keeping livestock enclosed, and protecting them against intrusion from predators and humans.
Galvanised steel fencing offers an exceedingly high level of security for horses, cattle, pigs, and sheep, as well as smaller livestock such as poultry. It offers a strong, permanent solution to keeping your land secure, and can be reinforced with barbed, line, or electric wire to ensure the best possible results.
- Installation and Maintenance
Erecting galvanised steel fencing can be fast and simple, provided you choose a design that has been optimised for ease-of-installation. In terms of maintenance, they require very little, particularly when compared with wood, which can be prone to rotting or insect damage.
A high quality galvanised steel will be protected against corrosion, and with the right tension it will be incredibly well secured against wear and tear from livestock.
Galvanised steel fencing can last for a considerably long time – around thirty years, due to its ability to withstand wear and tear and inclement weather conditions. For this reason, it represents a fantastic investment into your property, and makes an effective, long-term solution for grazing livestock.
Whether you are opting for wood, metal, or plastic, choosing a supplier that offers the best in quality is essential. Your fence will need to withstand a variety of extreme weather conditions, and a certain amount of strain from livestock; maintenance will be necessary for any fencing, but a poorer quality product may need to be replaced much sooner, which will cost you a great deal more in the long term.
Some animals, such as horses, will put your fencing under more strain than others. Choosing a high quality fence will prevent issues such as injury and escape attempts.
Wood should be pressure treated to a high and consistent standard, while electrical tape must be UV treated, and metal should be galvanised and coated in a resistant layer, in order to prevent corrosion.