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Cattle Fencing

5845 Views 10 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  uncle Will in In.
We're adding cattle to our homestead within the next couple of weeks, and are to the point that a decision MUST be made in the next day or two about what material this fence should be made of! We're putting SOMETHING up beginning this weekend, and have 6 hardworking fellas lined up to make it happen. But WHAT KIND?

We have about 290 acres and will (soon!) have 5-9 American Milking Devons (horned) and will be using rotional pasturing.

We've decided on split rail (with a single strand of electric to keep them from rubbing) across the top of the ridge where it is seen from the house, and where most of the interaction with the cattle will occur. But what about the perimeter fencing?? And what material do you suggest we use for the corral? Any input as to what size this corral should be for such a small herd?

We're debating the cost benefits of high tencil, electric, american wire/barbed wire.... Cost is always a consideration, but we view fencing as a long term investment.

So you with experience.... I'm asking for your suggestions... Please!

Gini in WV
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If you do split rail, you'd better add a hot wire or two in the middle on the cow side. They will rub, get their head under those rails and destroy your fence.

My working corrals are portable panels. They work really well, plus I can pick them up and use them for other things too. I paid about $70 for each panel. Haven't had a cow ruin one yet, or escape for that matter. I prefer the type that pin together, rather than chains.

If I were to build a corral, I would use cattle panels, wood posts, with a board around the top and mid-way. I can't remember what the square footage per cow is supposed to be for a holding pen, but I do know that the most common corral problem is making it too big. Nothing like playing "ring around the rosie" with Bossie all day :) Google cattle working facilities and you will find the answer.

Your perimeter fencing (are you fencing the whole 290 acres??? or just the part where the cows are?) is really a matter of terrain and obstacles.

I find high tensile to be a pain through woods and brush. The bottom wires get eaten by grass and I can't even find them. If something falls on it, it's hard to dig the wire out to re-string the fence. Barbed wire works better. If a tree smashes a section, it's easier to patch, just cut it at the last good post and run new sections of wire to the next good post.

I use a single hot wire to divide my pastures. It's easy to run, easy to change. My cows are very good though, they respect fences :)

I also use high tensile barbed wire for hot wires. I find it much easier to use than smooth wire, but that's just me.

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Reread Jenas post. It is 100 percent correct from start to finish. Didn't mention to use at least 4 barbs. 5 is better. Space them no more than 11 inches apart or the cattle will stick their heads through and stretch it until it becomes loose.
There's really no need to add much of anything after Jena's been here. The portable panels are wonderful for so many jobs, big or little and probably a good idea till you actually figure out what you want out of corals and handling system. We use 5 or 6 strands of barbed wire for fencing, depending on location. If we're pasturing near a highway or busy road, we go 6 (longhorns are pretty handy little escape artists). Make sure when you're fencing perimeter fences, you spend the extra money and buy good quality staples with the barbs and put your wire on the inside of the fence so when cows do lean on it, they aren't pushing the staples out. Ideally, I'd do everything in game fencing but it's just a bit too expensive, since I havne't won the lottery just yet.
Something else that could possibly have a bearing on your pocketbook would be are part of these line fences. In most parts of our country the cost of a line fence is shared by the parties on either side of the fence. As you stand on your property facing the fence, the right half is yours, and the left half is the neighbors responsibility to build and maintain, even though he may not have livestock. Check this out for your state. Might get the neighbor to kick in some bucks to cover his half..
There were split rail fences here when we bought the place, and we found it to be most unsatisfactory. Calves slipped through it, and the they all found it great fun to play with and wrecked it by butting and doing mock battle with it, everyone leaned on it and thought it was made just to scratch that elusive itch, and of course by trying to reach the greener grass on the other side. We soon replaced it with four strand fencing, top and third strands are high tensile electric powered by a 110v charger, the second and bottom strands are gaucho barbed wire. It was more expensive but we used the tensioners (reels, winders etc.) and springs on both the electric and the barbed wire, just clipped the barbs off where it was wound up. It is an easily maintained fence that still looks good and seldom needs tightening after almost 20 years. They don't crowd it because of the electric and the barbs keep them in if the juice is off. Of course the key to any good fence is corners set deep and solid and well braced.
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Just remember that those fences might not always be called upon to hold only cattle. What's been described is pretty close to ideal for cattle, but barbed wire is a no-no for horses (and you probably want higher fences for horses than cattle). Likewise, fence wires (which can be pushed apart and through) are not optimal for goats or sheep - you'd probably want some form of mesh fencing there. The mesh would do OK for cattle too, particularly if you're fending them off with a hot wire. High fence, mesh on the bottom with wires top and bottom of it, then a couple of wires above that, top one able to be made hot, no barb, stand-off hot wire, will hold anything except deer and large game safely. Can probably be relied on to keep deer out too for the most part. It's an expensive fence though.

Oh, yes - strainer posts ARE key. Need to be solidly set and braced. Corners, gateposts, intermediate strainer posts on long runs. Also do a special job anywhere the fence turns upwards. You need to take special care at the bottom of hills or gullies, or the fence can end up pulling the posts upwards, and suddenly your bottom wire is one or two or three feet off the ground.

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Hi Y'all,

We're kinda to the point where we're ready to start fencing the "Place".
We have 13 rolling acres in SW IN, One side is up against the State Forest.
We have one big hollow to fence across.
And, we want to get a few, as in 4 or 5 Highland Heifers, eventually, to
raise some beef.

We've decided on woven wire, because it is more of a multi-use option than barbed wire. And, it increases property value, 'cause it looks better.
I'd thought to get 48 inch farm wire(3x9's). But, Sharon thinks we need
to get 60 inch, no-climb fence, in order to pasture a horse or two, along
with the cattle, on down the road.

Now, can we put "H's", or maybe double-"H's", at the corners, tops of the hollow, & for the gates?
And then, Can we fill in the whole space between the "H's" with steel t-posts?

Or will we need to intersperse wooden posts, in between the t-posts?
T-posts are a lot cheaper, will they work? Are they tall enough?
Oh, she thinks we need ALL wooden posts, down the frontage part of the Place, for better looks there.

This is an ongoing project. No hurry on getting it done.
Thanks for any help, you can give.
'Til Later............
Old John
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Hi Y'all,

Oops, I had another question, I thought of last night.
What about 8 foot landscape timbers, as fence posts?
They are the right size & straight enough. They are TREATED.
And, they're much cheaper than treated posts.

We used them for the yard fence, last year, to keep the dogs
close to the house, when we want there. We put 48 in woven
wire on them. They seem to be doing alright & look good too.

Can I get away with using them for "line-fence?"

Uh, one other question.................
On the part of the fence, adjacent to the State Forest,
Do you think I have to bear ALL the cost?
Do you think there are limits on the fence I can put up?

Hey any information, or informed opinions on any of these
Several questions will be appreciated.
"Jena" Where are you??

'Til Later.......
Old John
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In regards to the landscape timber the tend to rot quicker than
ground contact approved 4x4 and they also are prone to warp
do you have a source to get cedar posts ? I know that here in TN they are pleniful and we get menonites to saw them for a song........jmo
Let me discribe the Amish fences Here in Indiana. They hold big draft horses, holstien cows and sometimes hogs. They are 47inch woven wire field fence. on top of the woven wire there is always one and sometimes two barb wires. Without the barbs on top, cattle and horses will ride the fence down making it worthless. The posts are mostly round treated wooden. The steel T posts come in a couple of different lengths and are made for the 47 inch woven wire or barbs and insulaters to be attached. They last longer than some cheaper wood posts. Woven wire comes in different weights of wire. Number 9 being the heaviest. Try to get fence with #9 on the top and botton at least. It won't rust out so fast if the bottom wire gets down in the dirt. The verticle stays are spaced at 6, 9, and 12 inches. The 6 inch spacing cost the most but are more efective it keeping dogs, coyotes, pigs, geese, big chickens and goats from crawling through.
Going down through revene is almost impossible to do with wire that must be streched tight. In places like that, you might have better luck with cattle panels and steel posts. If you must come up to both sides and cross such a place, you can run a high tencile wire straight over the dip from one end post to the one on the other side making them solid and not easily pulled over. The corner posts must be braced solid enough to stop a small farm tractor. Half the value of a fence is how tight it is streched.
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