Livestock Control Non-Electric Fence Designs

Introduction

A wire fence design refers to the physical description and spacings of the wire, line post and dropper components for a particular fence. The following specifications are typically required for an electric wire fence:

• description of wire

• number of wires

• wire spacings (from the ground)

• post spacing

• dropper spacing (if used)

These specifications must be chosen taking into account the various planning points; the three main ones being fence purpose, type of animal and site conditions. The other details of the fence such as post size, brace design, dropper type, etc. are set by construction practice once the above specifications have been selected.

Four all-wood fence designs and eighteen wire designs are outlined, each having their unique specifications.

Non-Electric Fence Designs for Livestock Control

Non-Electric Cattle Fences

The majority of non-electric agricultural fences constructed in B.C. are cattle fences either around hay fields, pastures or rangeland. These fences must control a variety of cattle including range bulls, pasture cows, cows with small calves and large breeds under conditions from native range to irrigated pasture. No one non-electric design is used, however the designs on pages 5 to 15 (or variations thereof) have been proven effective. Exact wire spacings given are not critical in most cases and are often adjusted to suit the particular animal size and behavior.

For Crown range wire fences, the top wire is to be not more than 42 inches and the bottom wire not less than 18 inches from the ground as measured at the post. This is considered the most suitable for cattle while allowing wildlife passage.

Most all-wood fence construction is for corrals and feedlot use or for windbreak situations. Where sufficient material is available along the fence right-of-way, rail fence designs are occasionally used. However, with the increased value of timber, these fences are seldom being built.

For Crown range log fences, the height at the time of construction should not be greater than 54 inches. To allow fawns to move under the fence, use an oversized bottom block (minimum 15 inches) every 1,600 feet. To allow ungulate movement, create a wildlife jump every 1,600 feet by leaving one end of the top log on the ground.

For Crown range russell fences, the top rail should be no more than 54 inches and the bottom rail at least 18 inches from the ground, measured at the center of the panel at the time of construction. To allow ungulate movement, create a wildlife jump every 1,600 feet by leaving one end of the top rail on the ground.

Non-Electric Sheep Fences

The control of sheep with non-electric fences can be achieved with either individual wire strands (barbed or smooth) or woven wire. Individual strands can be more effective when electrified. Barbed wire may not be suitable for sheep fences because the barbs will pull the fleece.

Non-Electric Horse Fences

Many horse injuries are fence related and may be as a result of fence design,

materials, workmanship or combinations of these. While a horse fence may simply

be a modified cattle design, the most successful horse fences are designed and built with specific horse habits in mind:

• the tendency to get hooves and legs caught in wires or brace assemblies

• the habit of chewing wooden boards

• the need for good fence visibility

Non-electric horse fences may be all wood, all steel wire, polymer, PVC or combinations of these materials. Designs may be for low pressure pastures or high pressure corrals. Barbed wire may be a poor material for some horse fences (i.e., high value animals) and should not be electrified. Self-supporting, link together, steel fence panels may be used in high-pressure situations when temporary or movable containment is required.

Chewing of wooden boards may be reduced or stopped by using an electrified wire(s).

Woven wire should be chosen by the size of the openings. Some horses will put their hooves through openings or “walk down” a fence. A diamond weave material, a 2 inch by 4-inch rectangle opening or a polymer grid fabric (all “no climb” materials) can be used in these cases.

Special “estate” type materials are available for horse fencing which offer superior aesthetics and visibility. These include polymer coated steel wire (as a strand or rail), all polymer strand, all polymer grid fabric or poly vinyl chloride (pvc) posts and rails. Some of these are beyond the normal “farm fence.”

Non-Electric Game Fences

The Game Farm Act in B.C. identifies bison, reindeer and fallow deer as permitted species that may be farmed. The perimeter fencing must be approved to obtain a game farm licence. This is a unique requirement in B.C. agriculture and recognizes the concern of escapements possibly establishing in the wild. Interior fencing is not regulated.

Bison Fences

Statements such as “Bison will respect any fence they want to” may give fence builders little faith in their work. However, bison are not generally considered to be a problem with fences given good management and sufficient space. Therefore cattle fence designs for medium or greater pressure can be modified for bison grazing areas.

Bison perimeter fencing should be at least 54 inches and may be up to 72 inches high (it is said if bison can get their nose over the fence they will attempt to push through or jump over it). These fences may be 5 to 8 individual strands or woven wire (a 10 strand, 60 inch high wire is marketed as bison wire).

In bison calving areas, fence designs should be modified to reduce the space between wires for the smaller young animals with the addition of an extra wire strand or two. Bison corral fences are generally constructed much stronger than equivalent cattle corral fences that are shown on page 6. This is in respect for the bison size, strength and quickness as well as their temperament when confined in corrals or alleyways. If bison are confined for feeding (especially if mixed herd animals are together) use a corral grade fence not a low pressure grazing design.

Fallow Deer Fences

Two distinct fence designs are used: perimeter fences (permit design required) and interior fences (at the producers choice). The perimeter fence requirement of the game farm permit is:

• 7 feet total height, all of which must be woven wire

• knotted joint construction (for security)

• 6-inch vertical wire spacing (fawn proof)

All other design details are at the discretion of the producer as long as the ability to contain the deer is maintained.

While a 7-foot height is specified, this is for the ‘openness’ of a woven wire fence. If deer can see a very distinct line at the top of fence (such as a top rail) they can jump 7 feet. Fences constructed of more solid material such as boards (i.e., holding yards at the barn) must be a minimum 8 feet in height, preferably 9 feet. Also, the snow pack should be considered if it may significantly reduce the effective fence height.

Reindeer Fences

Experience with the fencing requirements to control reindeer is limited but suggests they are not a jumping deer. However, the initial perimeter fencing of reindeer in B.C. has been to fallow deer standards. This may change in the future with more experience. The small openings in some woven wire game fence will also help repel predators and as such the fence is serving a dual purpose.

Polymer or Plastic Fences

These materials are relatively new to agricultural fencing but offer some unique advantages. For livestock control, the main use has been for horse fencing, especially where aesthetics is important. Some of the more expensive options could be considered “estate” fences.

These materials weather well, can be coloured, offer good visibility, are easy to handle and may require low maintenance. Polymer materials are also used in crop protection and special fences.

Guide to Non-Electric Fence Designs for Livestock Control

Detailed designs and specifications are located on the following pages for the main agricultural non-electric fences as listed below.

Comments on the Following Fence Design Information

The material description of wooden posts indicates a diameter range which is the smallest diameter acceptable (usually the post top). For example ‘3–4 inch’ notation describes a post requiring a minimum (top) diameter between 3 and 4 inches.

The following materials description and the amount of material required per mile of fence is calculated for level terrain. Rough or rolling terrain may require more materials.

Note that the brace materials are based on the basic single span, horizontal brace consisting of two driven posts and one horizontal rail. Braces are spaced up to the maximum recommended tie-off distances for the type of fence wire used.

Note: The following design information suggests minimum post, rail and brace member sizes, etc Larger sizes or modifications to the designs may be chosen where the added cost and installation labour is considered worthwhile for improved benefits.

All-Wood Designs for Cattle or Horses


Figure 1 Post and Rail Fence for Cattle or Horses


Notes:

1. Boards may be butt joined if they are twice the length of post spacing and the ground is level.

2. Joints are alternated on posts.

3. Place boards or rails on pressure (animal) side of posts.

If this is not possible, wire tie and/or nail an upright board over the joints.

4. Bolts can be used in place of nails in high pressure situations such as feedlots.

5. Flat steel washers (galvanized) may be used on nail heads for a larger surface contact area.

* A panel coverage of the right-of-way depends on post spacing – from 6 to 12 feet



Figure 2 Snake Rail Fence


Crown range fences note: maximum height of 54 inches at the time of construction; create a fawn pass every 1,600 feet (use 15 inch blocks); create a wildlife jump every 1,600 feet (leave one end of the top log on the ground).

* Panel coverage: – a 12 ft panel (14 ft rails) will cover 9 ft along the right-of-way; a 14 ft panel (16 ft rails) covers 12 ft * Panel width = panel length ~ 2 (i.e., 12 ft panel length: 12 ~ 2 = 6 ft panel width). Or refer to Figure 3, below.

Design Options: To reduce the panel width, and increase the coverage, use either of the following modifications:


Figure 3 Reduced Panel Width Snake Rail Fences



Figure 4 Log and Block Fence


Crown range fences note: maximum height of 54 inches at the time of construction; create a fawn pass every 1,600 feet (use 15 inch blocks); create a wildlife jump every 1,600 feet (leave one end of the top log on the ground).

Figure 5 Russell Fence

Crown range fences note: maximum height of 54 inches and the bottom rail at least 18 inches from the ground, measured at the centre of the panel at the time of construction; create a wildlife jump every 1,600 feet (leave one end of the top rail on the ground).

Non-Electric Wire Fence Designd for Cattle

Figure 6 Four-Strand Barbed Wire Cattle Fence

Figure 7 Five-Strand Barbed Wire Cattle Fence

Figure 8 Four-Strand High Tensile Smooth Wire Cattle Fence

Figure 9 Five-Strand High Tensile Smooth Wire Cattle Fence

Figure 10 Six-Strand High Tensile Smooth Wire Cattle Fence

Figure 11 Six-and Eight-Strand High Tensile Smooth Wire Cattle Fences

Figure 12 Woven Wire Cattle Fence

Non-Electric Wire Fence Designs for Horses

Figure 13 Six-Strand High Tensile Smooth Wire Horse Fence

Figure 14 Woven Wire Horse Fence

Note, that this fence design materials description and required amounts are the same as for the Woven Wire Cattle Fence design,  except for the following:

• woven wire choices are 9/49 or 12/48 knotted joint, or 10/47 hinged joint, at either 6 or 12 inch spaced vertical wires.

• choose knotted joint wire in high pressure applications.

• some horses may catch hooves in the 12 inch spaced vertical woven wire; choose either the 6 inch spacing or special “diamond” weave wire.

• use one or more top strands of htsw (possibly electrified) for added height (requires 1.4 rolls htsw per mile for each extra top wire).

Non-Electric Wire Fence Designs for Sheep

Figure 15 Six-Strand High Tensile Smooth Wire Sheep Fence

Figure 16 Woven Wire Sheep Fence

Non-Electric Wire Fence Designs for Bison

Figure 17 Five-Strand Barbed Wire Bison Perimeter Fence

Notes:

1. If extra top wire is used (for 6 strands total) require 24 rolls barbed wire total per mile.

2. 8 ft line posts required if extra top wire used

3. 9 ft brace posts required if extra top wire used

* per mile of level terrain—rough terrain may require more posts and braces

Figure 18 Seven-Strand High Tensile Smooth Wire Bison Perimeter Fence

1. If extra top wire is used (8 strands total) require 11.3 rolls of htsw

2. 8 ft line posts required if extra top wire use

3. 9 ft brace posts required if extra top wire used

* per mile of level terrain—rough terrain may require more posts and braces

Figure 19 Woven Wire Bison Perimeter Fence

Non-Electric Wire Fence for Game Farm Deer

Figure 20 Five-Strand High Tensile Smooth Wire Game Farm Deer Interior Fence

Figure 21 Woven Wire Game Deer Perimeter Fence

Note – do not use any material that is “bolder” than wire (i.e., a wood plank) along the top of the fence as deer can jump 7 feet if they can clearly see the top of the fence.

* per mile of level terrain—rough terrain may require more posts and braces

Figure 22 Woven Wire Game Deer Interior Fence