Give ‘Em Room to Moove: How to Choose the Best Cattle Fence for a Farm
The simple phrase “the cows are out” means just what it says. To a cattle farmer, though, it means liability and work.
Kentucky Statute 256.090 indicates if a livestock owner has a lawful fence his livestock break, he will not be responsible for the initial trespass. However, if the livestock continues to break through the fence, the owner is liable for all the damage the livestock incur.
The “fence” mentioned in the statute refers to a strong and sound fence that is at least four feet high. It must be made of rails, plank, wire, iron, hedge, stone, or brick according to Kentucky Statues 256.010. The rails must be close enough that cattle cannot creep through them.
A good cattle fence will keep your cattle where they belong and save you time and liability. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of cattle fences.
While a chainlink fence works great to keep your toddlers in the yard, you’re going to need something a bit more substantial for your herd. Think strong and thick.
You do not necessarily have to go with wire fencing, though. Constructed properly, a wood cattle fence can work as well as a steel cable fence.
You need to keep two things in mind as you consider the best fencing for cattle.
Is it a Physical Barrier?
Cattle will wander wherever they want if they do not have a physical barrier to keep them in. Authorities who deal with escaped cattle cite a variety of reasons for why cattle get out.
Sometimes the cattle are looking for better food. This is often why you may see cattle stretching their necks through a pasture fence to reach the tall grass in the ditch on the other side. You may spy cattle who actually get out and then just meander through the ditch and on to greener pastures.
Sometimes the reasons for escape are more benign. Authorities cite the fact that these animals are “just critters” and thus they get out.
A strong physical barrier means you have woven sire, high-tensile fences, or barbed wire to keep cattle penned in.
Larger animals will need a more substantial physical barrier. The same kind of fence that keeps an 800-lb steer in will not suffice for a 2,200-lb bull.
A bull fence should have heavy posts along with cable, thick-gauge wire, or even strong electrified wiring. Your bull needs something both tall and strong.
Is It a Visual Barrier?
Cattle also need a visual barrier. Cattle have amazing vision.
They have a panoramic vision which allows them a 300-degree range. They can see everything except for right behind them. Cattle have poor depth perception, which means they need a visual barrier.
A visual barrier will keep cattle in. They won’t try as hard if their fencing is visible.
The following fence types will work best since they are both physical and visual.
Traditional Barbed Wire
Barbed wire is unattractive but effective. It consists of two, and sometimes more, strands of galvanized-coated, steel wire twisted together. Every four to five inches the wire fencing has two or four barbs.
Barbed wire comes in two different classifications: standard and suspension.
Suspension fencing consists of four to six strands of wire stretched tight between posts. Standard barbed wire fencing differs in that it consists of three to five strands of wire. Both standard and suspension fencing are spaced between 15 and 25 feet apart.
Barbed wire fences are made of two or more strands of smooth, galvanized-coated, steel wire twisted together with two or four barbs spaced every four to five inches and generally classified as either a standard or suspension barbed wire fence. Both standard and suspension fences have wires stretched on posts somewhere between 15 and 25 feet apart.
Woven wire is a top choice among cattle owners to keep their herds in check. Woven wire fences have several horizontal lines of wire kept apart by vertical wires known as stays. Most woven wire fences reach 26 to 48 inches. Cattle will need higher fencing.
High Tensile Wire
High tensile fencing leads the fencing game for cattle owners for a reason. It costs less to build than most fencing, requires less maintenance, and is simpler to put together.
With high tensile fencing, posts made of insulated metal, wood, or fiberglass hold the wires in tension. Often cattle owners will electrify a strand of wire to keep cattle away from the fencing.
Wood Cattle Fence
You don’t usually think of a wood cattle fence when imagining cattle fencing. However, for hundreds of years, cattle owners have used wooden rail fencing. It works well for cows as well as horses and sheep.
Wood holds the rustic look that many cattle owners appreciate. You can find a three or four plank fence made of wood.
The wood fence will look even more pleasing when you purchase a wood treated with copper naphthenate. The wood will initially turn a memorable shade of green and then face to beige or light brown. Once the wood has turned, you can paint it
While an electric fence sounds dangerous, it’s not. Cattle owners have used them for years as an effective and inexpensive way to keep cattle in their pens.
An electric wire fence consists of polywire strands or ribbons and sometimes aluminum, high-tensile wire, or stainless steel wire. The latter three types of wire conduct electricity best over long distances. Often cattle owners will include a single strand of electric wire along with any one of the previous fencings to give their fencing more reliability.
No More Free Range
Robert Frost once said, “Good fences make good neighbors.” This holds today, especially for cattle owners.
For all your fencing needs, be they commercial or residential, contact us. We can keep things in and out as you need them.