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Choosing the Right Fence for your Animal Application

Friday, November 13, 2020


Cattle Horse Goats Sheep Llama Fixed Knot Non-climb Coatings Tips & Tricks Mixed Livestock Barbed Wire Smooth Electric Wire High Tensile Wire

Animal type and their safety needs are important factors to consider before putting up a fence, says Steven Sarson, a Bekaert Fence Pro and Technical Sales Manager.

“Fencing isn’t a one-size-fits-all product. Some animals are easier to fence in than others – and depending on the animal, some fence styles pose safety risks,” explains Sarson, who has spent nearly 30 years helping customers select the right wire for their projects.

Finding the best fence style to meet containment goals and animal safety depends on animal type, fence location and stocking density. With these considerations in mind, Sarson shares his suggestions. “I know customers who are able to keep animals in and safe with all kinds of fence styles. However, experience has taught me the best and safest ways to keep animals and their owners who care about them safe, so those are the suggestions I share.”

Fencing is usually dependent on the animal you’re trying to fence in. A fence for your animals should keep their safety and wellbeing in mind. It is important to consider stocking density, wire types, and knot types. Here are some of Sarson’s suggestions to fence your animals in safely:

Fence Recommendations Specific to your Livestock

Depending on the livestock you have, the fence you select should fit your needs. Bekaert sells fencing products such as barbed wire, fixed knot, field fence, non-climb fence, and electric fence. We manufacture agricultural fencing solutions  to keep your livestock safe and secure. There are different types of fencing that works for different animals. It is helpful to know which type of fencing would work for your farm animals. Sarson recommends these following fence solutions for a vast array of common livestock across the country:

Best Fence for Cattle

Because cattle are rather easy to fence in, a variety of wire types and styles work well. Stocking density is the largest factor to consider when selecting fence for cattle. “Depending on stocking density, a fence is either a physical barrier or a boundary,” explains Sarson.


High stocking density:

  • Various woven wire styles
  • Four to six strands of barbed wire
  • Four to six strands of smooth wire, two to three strands of which are electric 

Low stocking density:

  • Same designs as above for barbed and smooth wires. However, fewer wires can safely be used.

Best Fence for Horses

For horses, Sarson recommends using an S-knot 2x4 inch non-climb woven wire for horse fence applications. The S-knot does not catch on their hide if they rub up against it and the 2-inch by-4-inch opening will not allow a foal’s hoof through, making it safer for your horses.

“Horses tend to kick or paw at a fence, so openings need to be small. I’ve heard if you can put a soda can through a fence opening, a horse’s hoof can get caught.” Sarson recommends horse owners avoid barbed wire because of the risk to their hides. Smooth wire [ADJ1] options usually work the best for horses. He also cautions them against types of woven wire with larger openings. This may make it easier for horses to push their heads through the fence. Avoid this issue by going with smaller openings. Remember that an ideal height for horse fence can be anywhere from 48 inches to 60 inches.

Best Fence for Goats and Sheep

Sarson refers to goats as “escape artists.” With this in mind, he recommends S-knot 4x4 inch or fixed-knot woven wire with 3 or 12-inch-wide openings.

Because of a goat’s tendency to stick their head through a fence, Sarson recommends keeping openings larger than 6 inches or smaller than 4 inches. Similar fencing works well for sheep. In addition, Sarson has several customers who have good luck with five or six strands of smooth wire, if a few are electric.

Best Fence for Hogs

Two options work well for free-range hogs: 35-inch-tall, fixed-knot woven wire fence or three to four strands of smooth wire that are electric.

Hogs Two options work well for free-range hogs: 35-inch tall, fixed-knot woven wire fence or three to four strands of smooth electric wire.

“The key to electric fencing is to train your animals to the fence. You can keep a lot of animals in with an electric fence. But if you just put it up, and don’t train them, they will go right through it. They need to learn to respect it.”

Best Fence for Llamas

If raising a herd of llamas, Sarson recommends a 4 to 5-foot high, woven wire, fixed-knot fence

However, Sarson also knows producers who run a few llamas with their sheep and have success using five or six strands of smooth wire with a few electric. “I don’t recommend barbed wire because you run into hide damage issues.”

Fencing for Diversified Livestock Farms

No matter the livestock, fencing should fit the animals you have. Luckily, there are many options to choose from. You should consider fencing based on the animal’s behavior, safety concerns, and the purpose of the fence.

A fence for livestock should be reliable and strong enough to meet your needs, especially if there is a mix of farm animals on your land. Some have farms with multiple animals, both large and small. You may be wondering what fencing is best for certain diversified livestock farms. Sarson has thought a lot about this himself when talking to other homesteaders.
“I am frequently asked, ‘what fence is best for my daughter’s two 4-H steers, the club lamb, three goats and an old horse that my wife rides once a month?’ Believe it or not, there is a fence that will work to keep in a menagerie,” Sarson says. He explains the best option for a wide mix of animals is a fixed knot woven wire fence, 13 horizontal line wires, 48-inches tall and a 3 or 12-inch vertical (stay) wire. “Woven wire designs, “Unless you like building and fixing fence, buy products that will last. They will save you time and will cost less-per-foot.”

He also recommends buying fencing wire that is high-tensile. “Tensile strength is the resistance of steel or another material to break under pressure,” Sarson says, explaining, “The higher tensile strength and smaller gauge results in a lighter yet stronger wire, which reduces cost-per-roll, risk of sag and the number of fence posts needed to complete the project.”

Advanced Coatings Extend Fence Life

Protective wire coatings affect a fence’s longevity. Bekaert offers several coatings that extend the life of your wire fence, including Bezinal© and Bezinal© + Paint. It can provide up to 30 more years on the life of the fence. Coating durability depends heavily upon climate. “In the Northeastern U.S. where I live, or in the Southeast, there is a lot of moisture and humidity in the air, as well as corrosive acid rain, so I suggest using the best coatings available,” Sarson says. “In the Midwest or West, where the climate is drier, a fence with a lighter coat weight may work as well as a heavier coating does in the Northeast. Remember, a Class 3 coating is three times heavier than a Class 1 coating.” Coatings are worth considering for your fence.

Protective wire coatings Depending on geographic location, a protective coating may be a good decision. Coatings prevent rust and corrosion, protecting a fence's wire and accessories because they contain another metal, like zinc or aluminium, that will give themselves up to protect iron and steel.

Protective coatings, which are zinc or a zinc/aluminum (Bezinal®), act to prevent rust and corrosion because they give themselves up to protect the iron and steel base used for the wire and many of the accessories used during installation. This protection of the base wire and installation accessories add tremendously to the longevity of the fence.