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Fencing options, which one is best for you?

This horse was “caught with his pants down” when he made the poor decision to run through a fence. He has made a full recovery and is now back in training however it was a very long healing process. There are so many different fencing options available it is hard to know which one is right for you and the animals you have, which may vary in species. This article will list some of the many fencing options and the pros and cons of each. Some types of fencing may be better for some people, while another option is best for your neighbor down the road.

  1. Wood Board Fencing 

If you have ever drove through Kentucky then you are familiar with the beautiful black wood board fencing. This fencing is very cosmetically appealing and often seems to stretch for miles along the Kentucky highways. Some people choose to only use three boards, but often you see four boards to reduce the chance of the young foals escaping under the bottom board. A single strand of electric wire along the top board is recommended when using this type of fence to reduce cribbers or wood chewers from damaging the fence. While the wood board fencing is a sturdy and usually very safe option for horses, it does require a little more maintenance than some of the other fencing options. The boards should be repainted/stained every few years and if a horse kicks or paws at a board enough to break one, broken boards should be replaced . Overall, wood board fencing is usually a good, safe, and attractive option for horses. Four boards with one electric wire on the top board is recommended and the cost/time required with routine maintenance should be taken into consideration.

2. High Tensile Fencing

A basic high tensile horse fence consists of three to eight strands of high tensile bare metal wire. Typically, smooth-wire fences are coupled with electrical systems to create a deterrent effect, as horses soon learn that a smooth-wire fence is easy to push against. This type of fencing is an inexpensive option that cannot break or be damaged by chewing/cribbing. However, the bare metal can be very dangerous if horses hit it at a high rate of speed or get tangled up in it. A horse that gets a leg wrapped in high tensile fencing will often fight and struggle so much that the wire can cut through the skin and down to the bone. This type of fencing is not as popular as it used to be but is still sometimes used with cattle or horses on a lot of acreage. Animals that are contained in a small area are much more likely to test the fences than animals able to roam in wide open spaces. 

3. Coated High Tensile Fencing

Coated High Tensile is simply a coated wire that can be made electric or non-electric. The polymer coating makes the fence safer and more visible than non-coated wire. The coated wire does not rust, is very strong, and very low maintenance. It is often recommended to make a couple of the strands electric, usually the top strand and one strand in the middle to prevent livestock from reaching through. Coated High Tensile is not one of the most aesthetic options for fencing, however it has become very popular within the last few years because of its cost effectiveness, low maintenance, and safeness. It is also very easy to put up and does not require any special equipment. Overall, Coated High Tensile is a good option for owners wanting an affordable, low maintenance, and safe fence but are not concerned with the aesthetics.    

4. Vinyl Fencing

For people who are looking for a very aesthetically pleasing fence, the vinyl fencing is a very popular option. White or black vinyl fencing is often seen bordering properties and businesses. Vinyl fencing is very low maintenance, usually only requiring a good power washing every few years depending on the location of the fence and surrounding trees. A single top electric is recommended to keep the livestock from pushing on the boards and popping them out or breaking them. This fencing option is overall very safe, it can not get tangled around a leg, and if a horse does try to run through it, it will either break in two or simply pop out of the post.  While the vinyl fencing is one of the safer and more attractive fencing, it is one of the more expensive options.

5. Barbwire

Barbwire fencing is similar to high tensile wire in that it is not as commonly used as it once was, but it is still popular with some cattle farms. A single top strand of barbwire is more often seen than a full 3-5 strand barbwire fence. Barbwire is very low maintenance, inexpensive, and easy to install, however it can be one of the more dangerous fence options. Horses, especially young ones, often find ways to get their legs tangled up in a fence. Whether they try to jump it, paw at it, kick at another horse too close to the fence, or simply enjoy a good roll and end up too close to the fence; there are many ways they can become caught up in it. If this happens with a fence like barbwire, the more the horse fights the deeper it cuts through the skin, often not stopping until it gets to the bone. As previously discussed, high tensile is another fencing option that can contribute to the degloving of a limb. If barbwire fencing is used it is best to have the horses on plenty of acreage and not overcrowd them, so they are less likely to be near the fence.

6. Electric Tape Fencing

Electric tape fencing is popular for people looking for an inexpensive and often temporary fence. This type of fencing is best suited for quiet older horses that will not test the fence as it is not made to be strong or durable. It is almost always required that the fence be turned on since it is often only one to three strands. Overall, it is a budget friendly option, however it is not meant to keep in horses that have a tendency of challenging the fence. It is very easy to install making it a good option when wanting to separate pastures temporarily for reasons such as pasture rotation, or if a specific area of the pasture needs to closed off for a period of time.

7. Woven Wire

Woven Wire fence is a good option when you are trying to contain more than just horses. Coyotes, dogs, and some bigger wild animals cannot get in, and sheep, goats, pigs, donkeys, and horses cannot get out. When installed correctly woven wire is a strong, sturdy, and long-lasting fence. However, the installation process can be an expensive, tedious and labor intensive one. Unlevel ground is your enemy with woven wire. When picking out woven wire it is important to make sure the size of the grid is fairly small, usually a 2 inch x 4 inch grid is ideal. A small enough grid will prevent the chance of a horse’s hoof going through or getting stuck if the horse paws or kicks at the fence. This type of fence is more for practical use than aesthetics, however the sturdiness of it and overall low maintenance makes it very popular with owners.

8. Steel Pipe Fencing

Steel pipe fencing is a very strong, long-lasting, and usually safe option. A horse could get hurt if it ran into the fence because it has no give, however this is less likely since the pipes are easily visible. Upkeep is often minimal with the steel pipe fencing, though repainting may be required. Steel pipe fencing is very common in the southwest parts of the US and is often a good option for horses and cows due to its durability. Even in the Oil Patch of America, where pipe can be cheap and plentiful, transport and labor costs may be high. A professional installer is often needed to cut and weld the pipes. Depending on your location and the type of livestock you have, this fence may or may not be a good option for your facility.

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  • Penny King, Oblong IL

    I can’t say enough about Dr. Stone & his staff. They go above & beyond & take the extra mile to take care of your horses needs. They really care about what your horse really needs.

    They have been up all night with emergency colic surgery with a positive outcome. They saved a foal that was born three weeks early. I can’t even begin to tell everything we have been thru together. But I can tell you one thing, they don’t come any better than Dr. Stone & his staff. They are like family to our horses & us.”