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Fencing for the Long Run: High Tensile Wire & Coatings Increase Longevity & Cut Costs

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


Coatings Tips & Tricks Gripple Cattle Barbed Wire

Talk to any cattle producer, and more than likely fencing won’t come up as a task they look forward to. Build with high-tensile wire and ensure it’s protected with the right coatings, and you’ll have a fence that will last a lifetime, explains Keith Taylor, one of many Fence Pros with Bekaert, an American-made fencing company.

“My grandpa put in this fence when I was 10, and it is still in good shape and hasn’t rusted,” says Taylor of the high-tensile, barbed wire surrounding his cattle pasture. “Investing in good quality fencing products saves over the long run—because the fence lasts.”

Benefits of High Tensile Wire 

In the years since Taylor purchased his family’s farm from Grandpa William, he hasn’t needed to make many repairs because Bekaert's Cattleman® 14 ga high tensile wire can take wear and tear from livestock and weather.

“Even when a bull pushes against it, the fence doesn’t sag because high-tensile wire snaps back—it only has 3% stretch compared to low-carbon wire which has about 13% stretch,” explains Taylor, who was born and raised on the farm where his dad and grandpa raised Angus cattle.

Because Grandpa William believed in buying local, the high-tensile wire was made by Bekaert, at their manufacturing plant only 30 miles away in Van Buren, Arkansas.

This fence is truly an American-made product.

“This fence is truly an American-made product. I’m proud of our plant. With 400 employees, we are the largest full-time employer in Crawford County,” says Taylor of the company that has been manufacturing fence since the 1880's.

High tensile wire fences have the benefit of lasting longer than low-carbon fences because of the qualities of the wire. It is thinner, lighter, yet more durable. There is a greater weight to strength ratio than low carbon wire and added fence life with a premier coating that is Class 3 coating. With this coating, the fence usually has less rust and corrosion over time. “It has three times the life expectancy of low carbon wire,” Taylor says.

It can withstand the elements and handle livestock too. Like Taylor alludes to, this type of fence doesn’t sag even when pressed. It bounces back relatively quickly. Installation is much easier as well. For high tensile wire, less fence posts are used per foot during installation, making the process go smoother. All the while, the wire stays strong.

High Tensile Products Saves you Money in the Long Run 

 to fencing contractors and their teams. Today, he’s on his way to a Beef Cattle Short course in College Station, Texas, where he’s assisting with a workshop for a group of Texas A&M University students and cattle producers.

Another advantage is cost. High tensile wire products cost around the same or less than low-carbon options despite them weighing less. It is due to the amount of steel used in the product, and the quality of the wire. Cost, quality, and strength are some of the main benefits of high-tensile wire. So, using this type of wire can save you more time and money in the long run.

When Taylor compares high-tensile wire to low-carbon, he knows what he’s talking about. He started working in Bekaert’s manufacturing facility 27 years ago. “I started out in the production side of the plant. I’ve done everything—from running a protective coating line to operating every production fence machine—pretty much everything it takes to make this product and get it to market, I’ve done.”

In his current role, Taylor spends much of his time traveling across the U.S. hosting fencing seminars where he provides hands-on, installation training to fencing contractors and their teams. Today, he’s on his way to a Beef Cattle Short course in College Station, Texas, where he’s assisting with a workshop for a group of Texas A&M University students and cattle producers.

Calculate Your Fence Life Cost

“When I’m talking with livestock producers, first thing I tell them is unless they like fencing and fixing fence, buy products that will last. It will save you time, and it will cost less per foot,” Taylor says.

The best way you can calculate the fence cost per foot is by observing the dimensions and distance of your project. “I usually start with a length of 1,320 feet of fence to estimate a fence cost per foot,” Taylor says.

Start by adding up the retail cost of the braces, the wire, all accessories (staples, Gripple wire joiners, Gripple T-clips, etc.) the line post, and boss posts. “I then divide it by the 1,320 feet to get a cost per foot. 

You may need to include other things like labor or tool/equipment rental. You can work that number to whatever total footage you’d like and get a ballpark estimate.” The decision to use high tensile products will allow you extend your post spacing out further which means you’ll use less posts saving your time and money.

Understanding Breaking Strength

greater the tensile strength, the smaller the gauge

Then, he explains the science behind the strength and durability of high-tensile wire. Tensile strength is the resistance of steel or another material to break under pressure.

As Taylor explains, the greater the tensile strength, the smaller the gauge, and lighter the weight, which reduces cost-per-roll, risk of sag and number of fence posts needed to complete the project.

“High tensile wire is lighter, so post spacing can be spaced up to 20 feet. Most traditional low-carbon wire require 10-to-12-foot spacings and braces built at or near half the distance required for high tensile products.”

Tensile strength is tough for some to wrap their head around because the gauge is smaller, meaning the wire is thinner, yet it is stronger, lasts longer and requires fewer posts,” Taylor explains. Some high-tensile barbed wire can withstand 25 to 35% more pressure before breaking than conventional-style low-carbon barbed wire. 

“Cattlemen will look at the high-tensile barbed wire and say, ‘There’s no way that skinny 14 gauge high-tensile barbed wire can be as good as that 12.5-gauge low-carbon wire.’ That’s when I put it into the tensile wire machine and break it. Education is so important.”

Coatings Extend your Fence Life

Protective wire coatings also impact a fence’s longevity. And coating strength depends heavily upon climate. “In the Eastern U.S., or down South where I live, there is a lot of moisture and humidity, so I suggest the strongest coatings available. Whereas in the Midwest or West, where the climate is dry, a fence may only need a Class 3 or 1 coating,” Taylor says.

Protective coatings prevent rust and corrosion, protecting a fence’s wire and accessories because they contain another metal, like zinc or aluminum, that will give themselves up to protect iron and steel.

High-tensile wire fencing products and protective coatings have been available since the late 1970's, Grandpa William put up his barbed wire fence in the early 1980's. Although the technology behind high-tensile wire hasn’t changed, some new features make fencing easier—especially when you’re short on help.

Consider Gripple Products for Efficient Fence Installations

“Finding good help is one of the biggest complaints I hear from livestock producers and fencing contractors, so I recommend they buy fence with Gripple technology,” Taylor says. “Time is money, and this technology replaces cumbersome knots and crimps to make installation up to five times faster.” 

Gripple is a joiner and tension system

Gripple is a joiner and tension system developed to simplify the entire process of installing, maintaining, and repairing all types of wire fencing. Joiners can be purchased individually, and used with any type of fencing wire, or producers can purchase rolls of wire from Bekaert factory-fit with joiners.

“Gripple technology is like a zip tie for fencing. It is a joiner and tensioner in one. It cuts down on time and makes it much easier for one person to join two rolls of fence or replace a section of fence,” Taylor explains.

“No one wants to build a fence more than once. Invest in good products from the start and your fence will last,” Taylor says.