Choosing Fencing for Your Livestock

longhorn beef cattle stares through livestock fencing

For any farm, fencing is necessary to protect and contain your livestock. Depending on the kind of livestock you plan to raise, you’ll need to examine different fencing options to determine the best choice for your animals. In this article, we’ll examine the best fencing options for three of the most common types of livestock raised in Minnesota—cattle, horses, and hogs.

Cattle Fencing

Barbed Wire

Traditionally used, barbed wire is a cost-effective option for cattle fencing. When installed in four strands or more, it requires little maintenance. However, barbed wire doesn’t offer much strength to withstand high pressure; if you have bulls or high-traffic areas that need to be fenced, you’ll want to choose a more durable option, as the fence can be damaged or can cause injury to cows if they lean against it.

High-Tensile, Fixed-Knot Wire

While more costly, fixed-knot fencing is a low maintenance, high strength fencing option with excellent longevity. Woven in a grid pattern, extra wire is wrapped around the places where strands of wire cross for added strength. Unlike barbed wire, it shouldn’t injure cattle if brushed against, and it can withstand much more pressure. Because it reaches all the way to the ground, fixed-knot wire has the added benefit of keeping other animals out of the fenced area.

Electric Fencing

Electric fencing is a cost-effective method of cattle containment and can be used to supplement to barbed wire, multi-strand stand-alone fencing, or temporary fencing to contain grazing livestock on corn stalks or hay fields. High-tensile, single strand wire fencing can also be used in permanent installation settings.

Horse Fencing

For horses, barbed and single wire fencing should never be used. Easily frightened, flighty horses can run into the wire without seeing it, causing tangles and serious injury.

Wood Fencing

Strong and highly visible, wood fencing is a classic option for containing horses. Wood fencing requires professional installation to ensure it’s done correctly, making it one of the more expensive options. It also requires more upkeep to combat weathering and repair breaks or splinters.

Flex-Rail Fencing

Created specifically with horses in mind, flex-rail is crafted from high-tensile wire coated with polymer, making it strong and flexible enough to withstand the impact of active horses. It’s an attractive, low maintenance, and durable option for penning your horses.

Electric Fencing

Ropes and tapes containing metal filaments are gaining in popularity for fencing horses. These can be used in corrals, temporary holding applications, or larger acreages, and they’re highly visible, eliminating some of the concerns that are presented by regular electrical fencing wire.

Hog Fencing

As pigs tend to easily exploit weak spots in the fencing, the height of the fence and the space between wires are the two most important factors when penning hogs.

Single High-Tensile Wire

Single wire can work for fencing pigs if installed at three to three-and-a-half feet high—about eight to ten strands. To keep pigs from escaping, consider electrifying the second and fourth wires—they’ll learn quickly to avoid the fence.

Woven Wire

Woven wire or hog wire also works well—just make sure the gaps between the wires are only one or two inches wide to prevent piglets from wiggling through. To ensure they don’t dig under the fence, you can either run an electrified wire around the bottom of the fence or install logs to prevent burrowing.

 For all your livestock needs, visit Mimbach Fleet Supply.


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