Livestock Fence Considerations

Special fencing requirements for various livestock types are discussed in this section. The most important criterion to consider during the fence selection process is that of the fence’s effectiveness to contain livestock. This ability can be diminished if neighbors own the same livestock species or if extremely palatable forages are available on the other side of the fence. Woven wire fence with an electrified wire has been used successfully in this case. The strand of electrified wire should be placed at 2/3 of the height of the animals to be controlled. Selecting a stronger fencing type is also recommended for animal control when stocking rates and grazing pressure are high.
Barbed and woven wire fences have traditionally been used for cattle. Four- or 5-strand barbed wire fences are adequate for cattle. The initial cost of materials for barbed wire fences is about 70 percent of that for woven wire fences of 1047-12-11 design. However, barbed wire fences require higher maintenance and have shorter lifespans than woven wire fences.
Heavy and extra heavyweight woven wire fences with one or more strands of barbed wire above the fence are excellent for cattle. Fence height should be at least 39 inches. The initial cost of woven wire fence is about 130 to 175 percent of the cost of a 5-strand barbed wire fence. However, woven wire fences require less maintenance and last longer that barbed wire fences.
High tensile electric fencing with four or more strands of wire also makes excellent cattle fence. Fence height for perimeter fences should be a minimum of 54 inches. The cost of a 4-strand high tensile electric fence is about 50 percent of the cost of a 4-strand barbed wire fence and 30 percent of the cost of a 1047-11-12 woven wire fence. A moderate amount of maintenance is necessary for high tensile electric fences.
Wood or heavy wire panel fences are highly recommended for cattle handling facilities. Fence height should be at least 60 inches to prevent escape. Fences should also be clearly visible to reduce stress on the animal and to enhance movement through the facilities.
Sheep and Goats
Barbed wire fences have typically been used for sheep and goats. However, these fences are not recommended for sheep since barbs pull the fleece. Furthermore, barbed wire fences do not effectively confine goats if moderate grazing pressure is applied to the fenced-in area.
Heavy or extra heavyweight woven wire fences are excellent for non-horned sheep and goats. Fence height should be at least 39 inches high to prevent animals from climbing over the fence. However, fence height depends upon the breed to be confined. Mesh wire fences also make excellent fences for non-horned sheep and goats. Temporary fencing is not recommended for sheep or goats since they can easily escape
Special consideration must be given to fencing for horned sheep and goats. Fencing should prevent horned sheep and goats from placing their heads on the other side of the fence or should have openings that are large enough to let animals slide their head through the fence and back. Permanent electric fences also make good fences for horned goats and sheep.
Predator control is another important consideration for sheep and goat fencing. Five-strand high tensile electric fence is particularly useful for discouraging predators such as dogs and coyotes. However, fences must be kept free of vegetation to maintain electric current on the fence.
Woven wire fencing is excellent for predator control. One strand of high tensile electric wire can be used at the bottom of a woven wire fence for predator control. If electric wire is not used, the fence bottom should be placed on the ground to allow for the use of snares where predators dig under the fence. At least one manufacturer makes woven wire fencing with stay wires attached to line wires with a fixed knot. This prevents predators from sliding apart the stay wires and entering the confined area.
Coyotes can pass through openings as small as 4 1/2 inches. Woven wire fences with stay wires spaced close together can prevent predators from entering fenced-in areas. Some manufacturers produce fencing with bottom openings of 6 inch by 3 inch for predator control and 3 inch by 3 inch for predator proofing.
Barbed (standard and suspension) wire and cable fences are not effective for swine confinement. Woven wire fences with one or more strands of barbed wire (placed along the ground to discourage rooting) provide good hog control. Medium and heavyweight woven wire fences with small openings are excellent for restraining swine. Maximum fence height should be 54 inches. Fences built close to the ground prevent hogs from escaping by rooting underneath the fence.
Visibility is the most important characteristic of horse fencing. Poorly visible fences such as high tensile and barbed wire fences should not be used with horses; the animals may incur severe injuries (e.g. deep lacerations and broken bones) if they become entangled in fence wires. Woven wire fence with openings of 4 inches or more should not be used since legs may become trapped in the openings.
Woven wire fencing with openings less than 4 inches are suitable for horses if a single 1 inch by 6 inch board is placed at the top of the fence to increase visibility. Diamond-mesh wire of 12?-gauge minimum makes good horse fencing. Electric fencing is also an option since it will discourage contact and decrease the incidence of fencing-related injuries.

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