Common Fencing Mistakes

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Livestock fencing is one of those areas where there is always something new to learn. Nobody is perfect and there is usually an improvement that can be made with a little bit of knowledge (and maybe a hammer). There are several top mistakes seen by fencing experts:

  1. Corner posts. Applies to barbed wire, high-tensile, or woven wire fencing. Be sure to use appropriate sized posts and don’t set your corner posts too shallow. A guideline given by Jim Gerrish of American GrazingLands Service LLC “the depth in the ground should be equal to, or greater than the height of the top wire.” A 5-6 strand fence (barbed wire or high-tensile) would need a 6-7” diameter corner post.
  2. Post spacing. In an electric-fencing system posts can be spaced about 50-90 feet apart as opposed to the traditional barbed-wire fencing, where posts were 16.5 feet apart.
  3. Right sized energizer. Gerrish’s guideline is 1 joule of output per mile of fence (minimum).
  4. Grounding. Rule of thumb is 3 feet of ground rods per joule of energizer output. Ground rods should be placed about 10 feet apart to provide maximum effectiveness. Space ground rods throughout the whole fencing network, not just around the energizer. As far as material goes, copper is the best type but expensive. Using a galvanized ground rod will be effective as well; if one thing is galvanized it is recommended that everything be galvanized (i.e. 12.5-ga. galvanized wire, galvanized ground rods and galvanized connections).
  5. Wildlife friendly. Flexibility is important.
  6. Gate openings. For electrical fencing systems, use of a “floating diagonal brace” on either side of the gate opening can be helpful. Running current under the ground, with insulated hot and cold galvanized wires approximately 1’ under the openings, can be useful in keeping the gate “hot.”
  7. Insulators. Don’t use a steel post as the insulator…wood-plastic composite PowerFlex post or fiberglass are recommended.

This article was adapted from the June 2014 edition of The Carolina Cattle Connection, vol. 28, no. 6.