There are different ways and styles of fence that can be built, to reduce the amount of maintenance, but each has its pros and cons. Each fence has its place and purpose and I’ll discuss the benefits, uses and downfall of each. The fences I have had experience with are; barb wire, smooth wire, woven wire, electric fence, wire panel, rail, board, and steel. The largest determining factor in choosing a fence that has little maintenance is cost.
By far, the easiest type of fence to maintain is a steel fence. Put a pipe post every 10 feet, run a top rail, and then hang continuous fence panels. This type of fence has next to no maintenance, however, it’s not cost effective to be used for pasture fencing. That would cost a fortune. It’s a great method for fencing corrals, small paddocks, and horse runs.
Rail and board fences are similar to steel fences. They can become very expensive and labor intensive when building large pastures out of them. However, building corral or small paddocks looks sharp and the maintenance required is when the rails, boards, or posts start to rot. In my environment, with the soil moisture and moisture levels we receive, these fences are mostly maintenance free for 15-20 years with the exception of a critter running into them.
Wire panel fences fall into the same category of the above two fences described. These also are the least sturdy type of corral fence and have a tendency to get beat up. Cat’s Claw fasteners are the best option for securing wire panels to wood or pipe posts. I would not suggest these for horse stalls/runs due to the squares being roughly the same size as a horse’s hoof. They work great for sheep and goats.
Now we get into our wire fences. Wire is much more cost effective for building around large pastures and long distances. They do not work in high pressure areas with the rare exception of heavy duty woven wire. I’ve seen some decent corrals built with railroad ties and woven wire with bumper boards or rails to keep cattle off the wire. In general though, wire used in high pressure areas is going to require a lot of maintenance. Woven wire is great for sheep and goats and looks sharp brand new, with all the sagebrush bladed away. However, over time and after a few bouts with livestock or wildlife running into it, it can become a nightmare to maintain. High tensile and smooth wire are similar to barb wire in maintenance level but I would only use them for horse fence. Cows seem to not respect it and therefore would destroy it in a timely manner causing maintenance levels to skyrocket.
Barb Wire Fence
Barb Wire Fence
Barb wire is the best option for cost effective minimal maintenance fence for larger projects. I try to only use Redbrand barb wire due to its quality. The barbs are sharp and don’t run if something were to rub on it. Livestock respects it due to the barbs, I respect it due to the barbs. The most important part is you can get all the stretch out of it. This is important for a minimal maintenance fence. This leaves a nice tight fence for years to come. I’ve tried other brands and they just keep stretching and don’t stop. I have to go back and retighten the sagging wires every couple of years. To me, that’s too much extra maintenance. My braces and in-line solid posts are #1 railroad ties or pipe and I use Cat’s Claw Fasteners to attach the wires that way I don’t have to worry about staples falling out. I use T posts as much as possible due to their ability to withstand the elements and extreme conditions such as fire or excessive rain. All this adds up to a cost effective, minimal maintenance fence.
I’ve been around electric fences and believe it’s fine in certain places such as intense grazing plots, around farm fields, or to add extra respect to a barbed wire fence. However, I don’t believe it’s a great option for splitting larger pastures. Electric fences require constant attention and maintenance due to being grounded out, deer running through it, electric charger not working and the list goes on. I’ve replaced these fences with barb wire and the ranchers wish they would have just spent the extra money to do barb wire to begin with and avoid the headache. These are my thoughts on types of fences that are easy to maintain with the ultimate goal of maintenance free.
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