Alright, so you’ve finally found your dream ranch, but you’ve noticed that the livestock fencing leaves something to be desired. So what is the best fence for cattle?
When it comes to buying a ranch, small fixes such as fencing can be overlooked for the right property. Not to mention, fence maintenance is a regular occurrence on any ranch property.
As experts in ranch real estate and ranch management, we understand the nuances of what makes the best cattle fence. There are endless options for livestock fencing, and there may be several different types of fencing on your property. Here’s a look at what works the best for cattle fences.
Understand Your Fencing Options
Before we dive into the best fence for cattle, you’ll need to consider several factors when designing a fence. First, what type of animal are you penning? We are focused on cattle in this article, but different fencing is appropriate for different types of livestock.
Next, consider your budget. Some fencing types are more expensive than others. Consider the lifecycle cost of the cattle fence (maintenance, how often it needs to be replaced, etc). Other specifications to pay attention to include:
- Fence height. Larger animals like bulls need higher fences. In general, fences should be at least 49 inches tall
- Wire spacing. 6 inches or less is typically a good rule of thumb for cattle
- Post spacing. Too close isn’t economical or doesn’t work with electric systems, while too spaced out doesn’t last as long.
- Depth and sizing of corner posts. Corner posts need more strength and therefore should be beefier (excuse our pun) and installed deeper than regular posts.
- Keep fences wildlife-friendly. If you have hunting opportunities on your property, you may want to consider wildlife-friendly fencing for bigger game such as moose or elk.
- Plan for water breaks and cattle guards. These add additional costs to your fencing but are important elements for a seamless cattle ranch.
Consider if You Have Bulls
Unlike cows, bulls need a bit more robust fencing. These fences should be taller and more durable to handle a rowdy bull. Also, for higher trafficked areas like birthing pens and stock holds, you’ll want a more durable cattle fence.
The Best Fence for Cattle
Below is a look at the different fencing options for cattle. The best fence for cattle is the one that is the most suited to what the goals of your cattle ranch are. Some fencing systems will work better for large ranches, some for small. Others work well in high-trafficked areas and others are better suited for bulls and other livestock.
Hinged Joint Fencing is the Best Fence for Cattle
Hinged joint fencing is arguably the best fence for cattle. The fence is simple, with a grid-like pattern and wooden posts. These fences are ideal for pastures that have more than just cattle. Horses and goats like them too and are less likely to get tangled in the fence.
Hinged joint fences are cost-effective, but don’t last as long as other options. Once an animal leans into the fence, it won’t go back to its original shape. There will be adequate maintenance to check up on. Lastly, if there are wild hogs in the area, this fence won’t stand up to their snouts wallowing deep holes in the fence.
High Tensile Fixed-knot Wire Fencing for Cattle
For more of an upfront cost, you can get a long-lasting fence with high tensile fixed-knot wire fencing. As the best fence for cattle, these fences keep their shape, last longer, and don’t need nearly as many replacement and repairs. The high-tensile strength keeps predators and hogs at bay, while the smooth wires keep livestock safe. The big drawback? It’s more expensive upfront.
The best cattle fence isn’t electrified. In fact, electric fences are typically more trouble than they are worth. The only exception to this rule is with bull pens. Since bulls in heat can be quite the handful, an electric fence is a great option. Some electric fencing works well as temporary cattle fences. However, overall the cost and maintenance of an electric fence don’t make this fence type the best for cattle.
Barbed Wire Fencing
Long gone are the days of a full barbed wire fence. Animals can easily get caught or rub against a barbed wire fence, creating festering wounds. However, that doesn’t mean that the best fence for cattle doesn’t have barbed wire. In fact, many of the high-tensile and hinged joint fencing use a single strand of barbed wire at the top.
This strand sits above where the cattle would lean and is used primarily to keep out predators and unwanted trespassers.
Wooden Post Fencing
Wooden post fencing, although aesthetic, isn’t the best fence for cattle. Largely because it’s expensive, high-maintenance, and a pain to install. However, for other livestock such as horses, wooden post fencing is an excellent choice.
One application where wooden post fencing would make one of the best cattle fences is if you have just one or two dairy cows. For small cattle operations (think mostly for milk or raising a cow for family beef) a wooden post fence works well as an aesthetic fencing option.
An alternative to wooden post fencing is a synthetic fence. Typically made out of PVC pipe, these fences have the look and feel of a wooden fence, without the rot factor. Again, synthetic fences are expensive (more than their wooden counterparts), but they hold up to brutal weather and abuse.
Synthetic fences are some of the best fences for cattle if you just have a single cow or a pair. They are better suited for very small cattle fences specifically used for just a couple of animals.
Overall, the best cattle fence is a balance between intended use, budget, and safety concerns. There plenty of options for fencing when it comes to livestock, so take all the unique factors of your ranch into consideration before making a decision.