Don't Have A Cow, Man: Choosing Suitable Fencing For Cattle Pastures And Enclosures

Posted on: 11 August 2016

In many ways, purchasing suitable fencing for cattle can be simpler than finding fences for other livestock, such as goats and pigs -- you don't need to worry about a strong hog burrowing underneath, or a sprightly ram leaping a short fence in a single bound. However, you do have to contend with the enormous strength and mass of a fully grown cow or bull, and choosing a weak fence can lead to a rapid stampede as your cattle barge their way through with sheer brute force.

Fortunately, there are a number of readily available fence types that are eminently suitable for fencing in cattle. However, these types of fences do have particular qualities and drawbacks which can make them either more or less suitable for your needs than other types, so you should ensure that your chosen type of fencing is fit for purpose before spending your hard-earned cash.

Barbed wire fencing

The traditional choice for cattle fencing, barbed wire still has a place on modern cattle farms. It provides both a visual and physical barrier for your cows, inducing painful but harmless scratches and scrapes if your cattle try to cross it. As such, your cattle will not try to push it over, and only the most crazed of stampeding cattle will attempt to barge through it. Barbed wire fencing is also cheap to buy and is light and simple enough to make erecting a barbed wire fence relatively easy.

However, barbed wire does have a somewhat savage appearance, and you may wish to choose a more benign type of fence if you have frequent visitors to your farm. It is also unsuitable for containing leather cattle, as the barbs can inflict permanent marks and scars on a cow's hide. You will also need some safety equipment to safely erect a barbed wire fence, such as thick leather gloves -- most barbed wire supplies also supply safety equipment, and may even throw some in for free if you order in bulk.

Woven wire fencing

This type of fencing is functionally similar to the wire mesh fencing commonly known as chicken wire, but it is much more robustly constructed, with high-tensile steel wires woven together to create a strong yet flexible barrier. As such, this type of fencing can bow and flex in response to pushing or ramming from cattle, preventing breaks in your fence that can allow cattle through. Woven wire is also entirely safe for the hides of your cows.

However, the strength of a woven wire fence is largely dependent on how securely your fence posts are fixed in place, and even the most robust wire will not hold cattle if they can simply topple the posts over. If you choose this type of fencing, make sure to dig deep to provide firm footing for your posts, and consider cementing your posts in place for added security.

Electrified fencing

Electrified fencing is perhaps the most foolproof type of cattle fencing available, and even stampeding cows will be turned away by the painful but ultimately harmless shocks that electrified wire delivers. The ability to deliver these shocks also means that an electrified fence does not have to provide such a large visual barrier to deter your cattle, and even a small, fence with a single electrified wire can provide an adequate deterrent if it is sited properly.

Unfortunately, electricity never comes for free, and you will need to pay the running costs of keeping your fence powered -- fitting a battery pack or even a small array of solar panels to your setup can reduce these costs dramatically but cost a significant amount to purchase. Electrified wire will also require more care and oversight than ordinary fences to prevent corrosion and breaks in the circuit that can impair voltage. As a compromise, you may wish to supplement another type of fencing with limited use of electrified wires.


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