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Fencing a Small Farm: Stylish Fences for Your Homestead


September 27, 2021

If you are a homesteader with big dreams, fencing is an integral component to establish boundaries and improve biosecurity around your land. The right type of farm fencing can keep your animals protected while improving the appearance of your picturesque property.

Whether you are designing your small farm from scratch or renovating your existing fence, we can help you plan out your project so you can stay under budget and overjoyed. Fencing your homestead has never been easier!

Planning Ahead: Farm Fence 101

Small farmers do not have as high labor or material costs compared to large commercial operations. Even so, it is still important to properly plan ahead to ensure your farm fencing remains strong and durable for decades to come.

Consider your main goals when choosing the right type of farm fence design for your property.

  • Will you be fencing your entire property or just the animal pens and gardens?
  • Will you be breeding livestock? You need a farm fence strong enough to withstand any pressure from bustling livestock.
  • Will you keep any cattle? Cattle often require thicker wire gauge and strong and heavy posts to keep bulls inside the pen.
  • Are you worried about wildlife predators? Invest in a fence solution that will keep your livestock inside while keeping dangerous predators out.
  • Are you taking care of swine? You will need lower-set fences to prevent rooting.

Knowing the type of animals you plan on keeping can help you determine how tall or strong your fence needs to be to prevent your animals from breaking through or jumping over.

When setting a budget for your fence project, consider the following associated costs:

  • Installation
  • Fencing material
  • Posts
  • Brace assemblies
  • Fasteners
  • Labor

In terms of fencing materials, particularly wire fences, consider the wire gauge needed for your homesteading purpose. If going with a wire fence, ensure your wire is galvanized to help it withstand the elements for decades.

When sourcing fencing materials, go with the most reputable brand available. High-quality materials and manufacturing processes can ensure your investment pays off long after you set up your pen or perimeter fencing.

You will also want to ensure you have the city or county approval to set up your fence. Check your specific local zoning laws. Some regulations can restrict the type of material you can put up. Putting up a fence before gaining approval can result in a waste of money and time.

On a similar note, double-check your property lines to ensure that you fence off your property strategically without encroaching on your neighbors’ land.

If the entire project is too time-consuming or beyond your skill level, consider whether hiring professional installers is right for you.

Fence Posts

Longhorn Cattle on Ranch

When setting up a fence around your animals or garden, the fence posts you choose and how you install them will determine the strength and security of your enclosure. Even if you invest in the highest quality fence material, it still will not matter if the posts cannot handle the natural elements or the animal pressure against it.

When sourcing fence posts, you will usually encounter two different types: corner posts and line posts.

A fence’s end posts will add stability and strength in key positions including corners, gates, changes in elevation, and curves. End posts are usually wood since they are stronger than steel posts.

Line posts are not as big in diameter as corner posts but are just as important. They run along the length of your perimeter. How far apart you place them depends on the size of your fenced area and how strong you want the fence to be.

Before digging holes for your posts, determine any underground utilities you must work around by checking in with your local utility authorities.

Pro tip: Dial 811 to reach the free national call-before-you-dig service or visit www.call811.com. They will send out a utility locator to mark any underground utilities, free of charge.

T-posts

Steel fence posts, also called T-posts, are a popular, durable, and affordable option for small farmers. They are super easy to set-up and move around. All you need is a t-post driver or sledgehammer to pound them into the ground.

While they may not be as naturally beautiful as wooden posts, they can be an affordable option ($3-4/each). You can buy them in packs in sizes ranging from 4 to 8 feet tall. You may need to invest in additional clips or insulators to attach to the wire fence line.

6-Foot Medium-Weight T-Post

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8-ft. Medium-Weight T-Post

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Treated Wood Fence Posts

Large Grassy Pasture

Treated wood posts are an attractive and durable option. They can be more expensive than t-posts. Expect to pay between $8 to $10 per post. However, they offer a better aesthetic appeal than steel fence posts.

Treated wood posts can resist rot and handle the natural elements for long-lasting results. Since these wood posts are treated with chemicals, they can be hazardous when handling.

Wooden posts range between 6 to 8 feet tall. They can be heavy and difficult to move. To set up a treated wood fence post, you must dig 1 to 2 foot holes for maximum support. A hand-held auger or a clam-shell digger can speed up the digging process.

For bigger holes, you may stick with the pick and shovel combination alongside your clamshell digger. As you fill the hole back up, make sure to add dirt and tamp it down as you shovel for better soil compaction and post support.

4" Treated Blunt Wood Post 10 ft.

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3" Treated Blunt Wood Post 8 ft.

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Step-in Fence Posts

Step-in fence posts are super lightweight and used for temporary perimeters. They are usually made from polypropylene or fiberglass. They are affordable and do not require any additional clips or materials to secure your wire fence line to the posts.

In addition, they are very easy to install. All you need to do is push them down with your foot. They are an excellent choice to divide your pastures.

However, they are not perfect for every occasion. Since they are lightweight they are not as secure as other post types. This type of fencing can be used with electric wire, netting, or tape. Expect to pay between $2 to $3 per post.

48-Inch Poly Step-In Fence Post

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Gallagher Original Pigtail Step-In Post

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Rail Fencing

A rail fence is a classic choice for any property size, especially farms with horses. Generally, these fences are made from wood but they can also be made from vinyl and composite. A rail fence consists of 2 to 3 horizontal rails attached to wooden posts. Generally, they are combined with wire fencing to improve the practical purpose without sacrificing its appearance.

Wire Fencing

When it comes to wire fencing options, you have many options to choose from. Each type of fencing option offers a unique advantage or disadvantage compared to the others. It is up to you to determine what types of animals you intend to keep in or out from your land.

Wire fencing material varies by its wire gauge and its manufacturing process. Wire gauges follow the American Wire Gauge (AWG) rating. Remember, a smaller gauge number indicates an increased thickness. For instance, a 12 gauge wire weighs more than a 14 gauge wire.

Consider the durability and strength of the wire fencing material. Its resilience is based on how its wires are connected. Welded wire is one of the most affordable types available where each intersection is welded together. In other wire fencing, the vertical and horizontal fence wires can be woven, knotted, or crimped together to secure the network of wires.

Chicken Wire

Chicken wire fence is a popular type of fencing used to surround poultry and gardens. Its diamond-grid pattern features small openings. Generally, 20 gauge wire is woven into a diamond shape that is about 1 to 2 inches in size. You can get chicken wire in rolls ranging from 2 to 5 feet wide.

Poultry Netting, 12 in. X 50 ft.

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Grip Rite 24 in. x 25 ft. Poultry Net, 1" Mesh

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Grip Rite 72 in. x 50 ft. Poultry Net, 2" Mesh

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Welded Wire

Two Pinto Horses

Welded wire is a popular and affordable fencing option for small farms. This type of fencing is made by spot welding the joints of the horizontal and vertical wires.

This type of fencing features a mesh pattern with spacing between a half an inch and 4 inches apart. Usually, the squares are 2 inches wide. Welded wire fences can reach between 3 to 5 feet high.

While cost-effective, this type of farm fence will not stand up to tough jobs. This material is best suited for smaller animals that will not lean against it. If larger animals apply pressure on the fence, it may break and need replacement.

We recommend using welded wire to fence  poultry, gardens, and flower beds. It can provide enough protection from nearby foxes, coyotes, and other smaller predators.

Welded wire usually comes in 16 gauge or 14 gauge wire and is available in rolls between 50 to 300 feet long. In addition, its galvanized construction is resistant to weathering for better longevity.

Galvanized Welded Wire Fence, 48 in. x 100 ft.

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Galvanized Welded Wire Fence, 72 in. X 100 ft.

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Galvanized Welded Wire Fence, 36 in. X 100 ft.

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Horse Fence

Horse fencing looks like welded wire fencing, except this type of wire has a smooth exterior. The smooth exterior prevents animals, especially horses, from scratching themselves on the fence. Essentially, you prevent them from scraping their coat and causing damage.

This type of fence has a wire gauge between 14 and 12 gauge. You may also see certain ones with a V-mesh design to prevent horse hooves from getting stuck and the horizontal wires from sliding down if your animals try to climb it.

Red Brand Non-Climb Horse Fence 60 in. x 100 ft.

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Woven Wire

Metal Wir Fence Across Farm

Woven wire fences, usually more durable and expensive than welded wire, are made with a wire knot at the intersections of the horizontal and vertical wires. It is a perfect fencing option for livestock.

You will find this type of fencing available in rolls between 50 feet to 300 feet long featuring mesh openings in varying sizes and heights. A variety of openings can keep an animal as small as a rabbit or as large as a horse inside.

Goat fencing usually has smaller openings and a stronger gauge to keep your ruminants from sliding their head through the openings and resist breakage when livestock are leaning next to it.  For large livestock, wider mesh openings are recommended.

Hutchison Western 48 in. 12.5-ga. Non-Climb Woven Wire 100-ft.

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Hutchison Western 47 in. 12.5-ga. Woven Wire 330 ft.

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Field Fence Wire

Field fence wire is a type of woven wire fence and one of the most affordable types of woven wire available. It can come in rolls of about 330 feet. Mesh openings vary between 3 in to 7 inches wide.

Field fence wire has a heavy gauge wire, usually 12 gauge or 10 gauge. Its intersection points are crimped for extra strength and security. Generally, this type of fencing is used for larger livestock such as cattle and hogs.

  • Hinge-joint fence: This type of field fence features vertical wires wrapped around the horizontal ones at the intersections. These can provide significant lateral strength compared to traditional welded wire fences. However, animals can push the horizontal wires down if they attempt to climb them.
  • Fixed-knot fence: This type of fence reinforces the wires from both directions to ensure there is no horizontal sliding wire.

Barbed Wire

In cattle farming, barbed wire is a timeless and traditional choice. This type of wire fencing features 2 or 3 horizontal strands of woven wire with sharp barbs every 3 to 5 inches throughout the length of the wire. Barbed wire fencing can be strung between a variety of posts including metal or wooden.

Barbed wire is an effective livestock fencing option due to its pokey barbs that can deliver a sharp pain to animals that are close by. Ideally, you will want to use barbed wire for low-impact animals that have plenty of space.

Barbed wire can be painful and damaging for certain animals such as horses. In addition, sheep wool is easy to get caught in the barbs.

While this may not be the prettiest option of the bunch, it does keep your animals in a certain contained area.

Make sure to check your zoning regulations since regions restrict the use of barbed wire fences.

Red Brand 4-Point 12.5-ga. Ruthless Barb Wire 1320 ft.

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Hutchinson Commercial Barbwire, 1320 ft.

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Red Brand Barbless Cable Fencing, 1,320 ft.

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Electric Wire

Electric wire fences consist of several strands (4-5) of high tensile wire. You will need a fence charger, insulators, and grounding rods along with your electric fencing.

An electric fence is very resilient to wear and tear, flexible, and long-lasting. It is a perfect solution for sheep, pigs, goats, cattle, and horses. They are also excellent at keeping predators outside of your enclosure.

While electric fences can deter animals from getting out or in, they are not unbreakable. For extremely aggressive or determined animals, they may not be enough of a deterrent. Electric fences simply offer a psychological deterrent.

An electric fence can be affordable, even if you have a slightly larger property. They work well with metal or wood fence posts. Similar to barbed wire fences, you can place the posts further away from each other compared to welded or woven wire.

Gallagher XL Aluminum Wire 250 ft.

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Gallagher Electric Fence Polywire, Ultra White, 1/16 in. X 656 ft.

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Powerfields Screw-In Ring Insulator, 6 in.

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Fence Gate

For maximum security and containment, a fence gate can not only enhance your fencing but also improve the look of your homestead. When it comes to fence gates, you have a few choices at your disposal.

Consider placing them in properly drained areas to avoid a muddy opening. Also, place the gate near a corner. Corner placement can help you move livestock along the fence and through the corner opening instead of driving them right through the middle of the pen.

Behlen 4 ft. Galvanized 2 in. by 4 in. Wire Mesh Gate

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Behlen 4 ft. Gray 2 in. by 4 in. Wire Mesh Ranch Gate

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Wooden Gate

Wooden Gate Entrance to a Farm

Wooden gates offer a rustic and down-home look and significantly improve the aesthetics alongside a wooden post fence. Build one yourself from reclaimed wood or get a custom-built option in your exact size and preference.  Wood gates offer a variety in style and function to meet your specific needs.

Green Grass Field Near Mountain

Tube gates are perfect for livestock fences, portable corrals, and pasture. Choose from a small gate just a few feet wide for your wheelbarrow to fit through or a larger tube gate capable of allowing a tractor or large truck, or large group of livestock through with ease.

These types of fences can last a long time and withstand a lot of wear and tear. Plus, they are simple to install on wooden fence posts.

Shop tube gates with panels to keep animals including lambs or kids from hopping through the openings. A tube gate can be relatively costly starting between $50 and $200 each.

Behlen 16 ft. Gray 6-Rail Utility Gate

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Behlen 10 ft. Gray 6-Rail Utility Gate

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Gate Handles

Gate handles are an affordable way to add a gate in electric or barbed wire fences. Just position your gate handles in a low traffic area for best results.

Farm Fencing Products at Wilco Stores

Cow Behind Farm Fence

Installing a fence is not a set-it-and-forget-it project. Regular maintenance helps you determine if you need any big repairs. We recommend walking the perimeter of your fences at least a couple of times a year.

Keep your livestock safe and your small farm thriving. Explore a wide range of farm and fencing products at Wilco Farm Stores. We have the highest-quality options of fence supplies from quality manufacturers like Red Brand, a leader in farm fencing since 1889.

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