If you keep livestock one thing that may keep you awake at night is the possibility of an escapee. Not only is a breach in your fencing an inconvenience when you discover your sheep grazing in a neighbouring garden, you also run the risk of injury or fatalities, as well as damage to other people’s property.
Your first line of defence against this problem is of course your fencing. A good solid fence, well maintained and suitable for the livestock you keep, should help you sleep much better at night.
So where do people go wrong? Here we share common livestock fencing mistakes and how to put them right.
#1: Corner Posts
Corner posts are arguably the most important element in a secure fence. If your corner posts are not the right size or quality for the type of fence, they can make the rest of the fence unstable. Similarly, if the corner posts are not properly fixed and deep enough into the ground, your fence could collapse under strain from either livestock butting up against it, or wind and rain.
Your fencing supplier will be able to advise you on the right size corner posts for type of fence. Pressure treated softwood fence posts are relatively cheap, compared to oak or chestnut, but will need to be replaced more regularly – typically 10-15 years – so bear this in mind when choosing your fencing.
Corner posts should be driven deep into the ground, at least 1 metre although many experts recommend that they are as deep or deeper as the top wire on your fence. For this you’ll need a post hole digger / auger. This will not only make the job easier and ensure the posts are more secure, but over the years you will get excellent value from it as posts are replaced or new fencing put up.
Similarly a post knocker makes light work of a backbreaking job and will ensure your new fence posts will stand the test of time.
#2: Incorrectly Spaced Intermediate Posts
Understandably you will not want to invest in more posts than you have to, however spacing intermediate posts too far apart as a cost saving exercise is another common fencing mistake. Whatever fencing you’re using whether it’s post and rail / wire, electric wire or tape, barbwire, wire mesh or netting, it will need sufficient support to stiffen the fence and keep it in place.
Again your fencing supplier will be able to recommend the correct distance between intermediate posts for the type of fencing you’re using.
#3: Wrong Height
Large animals obviously need higher fences, but sometimes people underestimate exactly how high these need to be. For horses – perhaps the most common jumping escapee – the top rail of a fence must be at least as high as the withers of the tallest horse in the field.
Remember too, that even large animals can go under fences so the bottom rail is just as important. For horses this should be no more than 30cm off the ground.
4#: Using The Wrong Fencing
While many suppliers sell ‘livestock fencing’ there is no one-size-fits all fencing solution for all animals. However, a post and rail fence is an excellent starting point as this is suitable for horses and cows, but can also be adapted for other livestock by adding wire mesh or netting.
If you have livestock that are likely to go under a fence, make sure that any netting or mesh is flush with the ground and pay particular attention to any uneven areas or slopes on your fence line.
#5: Fencing Your Neighbours Boundary
Finally, a common mistake we hear of anecdotally and one that can cost you time and money – fencing the wrong boundary! While your neighbours may be quite pleased with their brand new fence, others may not be and demand that you take it down. Remember too that if you do erect a fence on your neighbour’s land, even if they’re happy for it to remain, someone will have to maintain and repair it.
Much better to make sure you know your boundaries and if you need to fence along a neighbour’s boundary, make sure it’s situated on your land.
If you found this post useful you may also be interested in reading our Top Tips For Building A Paddock