Fencing and Gates

Well-maintained fencing is essential for livestock operations. Fencing keeps animals on the property, controls grazing patterns, and protects animals from predators. Fences should be designed for the specific needs of the farm, and should be properly maintained in case of any damage caused by the livestock or extreme weather conditions. Fence design must comply with any local regulations that are in place to ensure stability and animal protection. Farmers must also ensure that all fences are built within the property boundary lines.

Traditional Fencing

One main type of fencing is traditional, non-electric fencing, which acts as a physical barrier. Fences of this type must be reinforced to prevent animals from damaging or breaking through and escaping. The height required will depend on the size of the livestock. Traditional fences are durable and have long useful lifespans, but can be expensive to install and maintain. Styles of physical barriers include wooden, page wire, barbed wire, smooth wire, and wire suspension.

Electric Fencing

Electric fencing is a type of psychological barrier that animals should be trained to avoid. If an animal experiences pain from coming into contact with the fence, it will learn to keep away from the fence in the future. This type of fencing is best for large pastures where animals will not be crowded or forced into the fence. Electric fencing requires less material per unit than physical barriers, so can be less costly than traditional fences. Psychological barriers may also require more maintenance, but are very effective in protecting livestock from predators. Farmers should consult with a fencing supplier when designing an electric fence setup.

Fencing for Creep Grazing

Creep grazing is a method of grazing that allows young animals access to fresh paddocks of dense and palatable forage before mature animals are released into the paddocks. It helps to ensure that young animals get the nutrition they need to grow without competing with larger animals. Fencing can help facilitate creep grazing if the fence is raised high enough above the ground to allow young animals to walk under, while restricting entry for mature animals. Alternatively, a creep grazing gate with vertical slot openings just big enough for young animals to pass through can be used.

Recommended Fencing for Livestock Classes

  • Cattle: well-maintained but light-weight electric fencing is suitable for well-trained cattle. Fence should be in excellent condition if enclosing bulls.
  • Horses: fences should be highly visible and never include barbed wire. Smooth-wire or electrified tape are best.
  • Sheep and Goats: the lower edge of the fencing should be close the ground and especially protect animals from predators. Mature sheep will not respond to electric fencing well since they are insulated from the shock by their wool.