While rearing livestock, investment in fencing is essential to protect the cattle from predators and also prevent them from moving out when you do not want them to. There are several options when it comes to fencing your farm. The type of fencing to be deployed for your farm is not an arbitrary decision but is a rational one which depends on:
1) Type of livestock or purpose of the fence
2) Maintenance requirements
3) Zoning rules
4) Type of terrain
5) Capital expense
When it comes to cattle farm, one need to install two layers of fencing –
1) Perimeter fencing and
2) Interior fencing
Perimeter fencing is the first line of defense against predators and is intended to last long, and hence is preferably made from durable and high tensile material. Woven wire fences and electric fences are preferred for perimeter fencing.
Interior fencing is not meant to deter the predator, but partition larger fields into smaller ones for the purpose of grazing. The material to be used in interior fencing can be made from less robust material.
Options with Regards to Perimeter Fencing
Electric Fencing with High Tensile Strength – These are relatively simpler to make and even cheaper than other fences. They provide significant durability by adjusting the number of steel wire strands. These can be used for a variety of livestock. For cattle, two strands are enough but for sheep it may require multiple strands. Multiple strands of 12 ½ gauge high-tensile wire is regularly deployed while preparing fences for sheep. The design is such that the wires which are close to the ground are more densely applied than those significantly higher from the ground.
If the animals try to cross these electric fences they get an electric shock. To ensure proper functioning of the electric fence appropriate grounding should be ensured.
Page Wire Fencing – This is most preferred type of fencing for protecting sheep farms. These comprise of horizontally laid smooth steel wires which are woven with vertical wires. The vertical wires are referred to as Stays. The spacing between horizontal wires is less close to the ground and increases as we move up from the ground.
For smaller animals the vertical wires are spaced 6 inches apart, while for larger ones they can be placed 12 inches apart. The woven wires can be high tensile ones which will improve the longevity of the fence and you can also look to cut down on the number of fencing post.
Page wire fences can also include barbed electric wires which can run along the top of the fence. This improves the overall protection offered by page wire fencing.
Mesh Wire Fencing – These are similar to woven wire fencing, but the difference being that the size of the opening is much smaller as the wires are more closely woven. The orientation of the wire may be different. The wires can be oriented as desired to form a diamond shaped or square shaped opening. Mesh wire fencing would cost more than woven wire fencing. Hence mesh wire fencing find application where the area to be confined is relatively smaller (corrals and barnyards).
Barbed Wire Fences – These are not the best choice of fencing for sheep as they are not very effective at keeping the predators away and thus the livestock is endangered. Besides there are chances for the sheep getting their wool stuck in the barbs.
In some places, installing barbed wires is also illegal. If you are still looking to used barbed wires, then make sure that the barbed wires are more closely spaced. So you may use 8 to 10 barbed wires as against 5 to 6 which are normally used in barbed wire fencing.
Rail Fencing – Like barbed wire fencing, rail fencing as well is not very effective at keeping predators away. Rail fencing deploys wood or vinyl to confine the cattle and is for those who are looking at an aesthetically pleasing farm.
If at all rail fencing need to be used to fence a farm, it should be used in conjunction with electric wires placed along the middle of the fence. You may also surround the fence with a woven wire fence in order to improve the protection.
My family has had a farm we have looked after for some time now, and I’m thinking its time to replace the fence. I think I would be leaning toward the rail fencing, seeing as we have a lot of livestock to look after. The wire fencing just doesn’t seem like it would be as secure.
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