Extension Ag Update
March/April 2001
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Fencing Hints

With the warmer weather, everyone is starting to stir around and work on those spring projects. Among those projects, fence construction and repair seems to be high on cattle producers' lists. The questions I get frequently are "Is there a better way to build a fence? What is the deal with high tensile wire fencing?"

High tensile wire fencing can be a better way to build a fence. In most cases it is faster to install, less expensive, and easier to repair than conventional barb or woven wire fences. There are some differences in the construction techniques for high tensile wire fencing that must be mastered to reap the benefits. Among the advantages is the opportunity to long span the fence between posts requiring fewer posts. Asking someone who has been successful with high tensile fence in a great place to start. I have had the opportunity to talk to several producers and university researchers about their experience. The following are some pointers they shared.

  • Use 12 1/2 gauge high tensile wire that is available in breaking strengths from 130,000 to 265,000 psi. The lower tensile strength wire is easier to work with, while the very high tends to be brittle and not easily handled. The 180,000 — 210,000 psi tensile strength wires are preferred as good compromises for fence durability and handling.
  • Solid corner posts and gate posts are another key to success. High tensile wire fences tend to have more pressure on the post than other types. Driven post, floating braces, and multiple post corners are among the techniques that have been successful.
  • Buy or build the gadgets BEFORE you start! A spinning reel; compression sleeves and tool, or wire tie pliers are among the things you need to start. One producer relayed his experience: "I was going to save some money by doing without a spinning reel. After cutting the retaining straps on the wire spool, I had the biggest SLINKY you ever saw with no hope of untangling the wire!"
  • Once the wire is stretched between the primary corner posts, then look at where you need other posts to support the fence. Long spans with fence stays will hold up to deer pressure better than short spans. The fence will give, then snap back into position, when deer hit it.
  • Design the fence to be electrified, even if you are not planning to electrify it initially you have the flexibility later. Most of the accessories available for construction are designed for this anyway.
  • On parameter and multi-strand division fences, alternating electrified and grounded wires, starting with the top wire electrified, helps deter animals even in dry conditions.
  • Grounding of the fence charger and the lightening protection system on separate systems is very important. The fence charger should have at least three 6-foot long ground rods driven into the ground 10 feet apart. The lightening protection system should be as good as, or better than, the charger grounding.

These are just of few of the advantages and ideas that experienced high tensile wire fencers will share with anyone interested in making the change.