Fence Advice


When we first started improving our farm I had no intention of farming as a vocation.  My plan was to live here after I retired and I just wanted the place to look nice.  I hadn’t yet begun my journey toward sustainability, so there are many things I’d do differently if I were doing them now.

When I was growing up there was a farm in our county that had black board fences around their pastures.  I admired those fences and when time came for us to replace the dilapidated fences on this farm I hired a someone to build board fences and someone else to pain them black.  I was still commuting and working crazy long hours so doing it myself wasn’t an option, even if I had the necessary skills (and I didn’t).

At the time the fences were intended to hold nothing other than two horses, one belonging to our daughter and the other to her friend.  I had no intention of owning goats, cows or pigs (and probably would’ve scoffed at the notion).

The board fences are pretty.  But that is the nearly the only thing they have going for them, and there are plenty of disadvantages (I now know).  They’re expensive to build and maintain.  Every year I have to repair or replace boards that have warped or broken.  Every year I have to touch up the paint.  They’re not suitable for containing goats, so we had to go back and add hot wires and a charger.

I know some folks who read this blog are in the planning stages of homesteading.  So here’s some advice for y’all.

Think practically about your fencing.  Keep in mind when you’re designing it that your plans may change. Make sure your fences are suitable for any species of livestock you might ultimately keep. So, for example, if you might get into raising pastured pigs, either fence in some wooded areas or design the fence so that you can easily do so later.  Consider the time and cost involved in maintenance.  You don’t want it to be an ugly eyesore, but looks should not be your primary consideration. Keep in mind that you’ll need to keep the fence line cut (unless you’re planning to use Roundup along the fence line–which I highly discourage). One advantage of board fencing or high tensile wire versus woven wire fencing is that you can easily trim under the fence with a weedeater.  When you put in your waterers, keep in mind that the livestock will congregate there. Choose a high spot if possible.  And if you want to do rotational grazing, put the waterer where it can be used in multiple paddocks if necessary. Ideally you’d like to be able to drive a tractor along both sides of the fence line, even though that won’t always be possible.  Keep in mind that you will want your fence to keep animals out as well as in.

For what it’s worth…