Planning your game fence can be difficult. How do you decide which kind of fence to build in the first place? The possibilities are limitless, and no one else’s fencing needs are exactly alike.
However, knowing what factors to take into consideration can lead you in the right direction.
Identify the animals to be fenced in or out
Understanding the kind of animals that will be fenced in or out, and their behavior, will help you determine the game fencing system to use. Dairy cows and beef cattle are the easiest to contain, followed by horses, pigs, sheep, goats, and small game.
Familiarize yourself with their behavior. Are they climbers, crawlers, diggers, back rubbers or do they head butt? Keep in mind that babies can slip under the fence, and breeding-age animals can behave erratically during mating season.
Being familiar with how potential predators like coyotes and foxes act is also important.
Know the fencing options are available
Traditionally, barbed wire has been regarded as the most affordable and accessible fencing material. While suitable for confining cattle on an open range, barbed wire fences can injure horses, snag sheep wool, and can tear goat ears and udders.
Thankfully, there are better livestock and game fencing options available. They can be classified into four categories. High tensile wire, electrified high tensile wire, woven wire, and rail. Evaluate each one in terms of function, appearance, ease of installation, sturdiness, safety, cost, durability and maintenance.
A high tensile wire is a safer and more attractive option. Strand for strand, it costs about the same as a barbed wire fence and is more affordable than woven wire. Built right, a high tensile wire fence can keep any large animal in or out.
Electrifying high tensile wire fences increases the range of animals it can deter.
While not as affordable, woven wire game fencing will keep almost anything in or out. It’s the usual choice for sheep, goats, and poultry. The sturdiest woven wire fences are made with galvanized or plasticized metal.
Rail fences are the most expensive and most aesthetically appealing option and are perfect for horses and their young. Rail fences can withstand the kicking, charging, and chewing that horses inflict on game fencing. Traditionally made of wood, rail fences are now fabricated from rot-resistant vinyl, steel, or even concrete. An electrified version can be used when horses are corralled with other stock or when predator control is needed.
Woven wire and rail fences are most suitable for a level or gently rolling land, while wire fences can easily adapt to rough or hilly terrain.
Consider the amount of pressure animals or machinery will exert on your game fence. Corral feeding and tractors bumping against it can affect the stability of the fence. High tension fences have a bit of “give” and can easily spring back to form.
Local fencing regulations can limit game fencing options available to you. Check with your city or county planning office if there are any height restrictions or if there are rules regarding fence construction and design.
Think about your budget
There’s no such thing as a cheap fence. Opting for low-quality fencing materials will not only shorten the lifespan of your fence– it can lead to costly maintenance work.
Before you decide anything, prepare a map of the area you want to fence, together with all the corresponding measurements. A map will help you come up with the amount of fencing material required.
Add the total length of the fence line on your map to calculate how much fencing material you’ll be using. For rails and wire strands, multiply the total length of the fence by the number of rails or strands you plan. If for example, your fence line measures 2,000 feet, and you want a three-rail fence, you will need 6,000 feet of rail. Next, determine how the fencing material is sold so you can calculate the number of units you need, rounded off to the nearest whole number.
If putting up a fence sounds complicated, consider working with a professional game fence contractor. It is recommended that you still do the initial layout to give the game fence contractor an idea of what you have in mind. Do price comparisons whenever possible.
Invest in quality posts
A fence is only as strong as its posts, so it’s important to carefully think about what type of posts you’ll be using. Fence posts can be made from wood, steel, concrete, stone, plastic, or fiberglass; each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Wood is strong but deteriorates faster; steel is more long-lasting but not as strong. Concrete and stone posts are not readily available. Plastic is inexpensive but it does not hold up well. Fiberglass is strong and relatively affordable.
Clear the area
Clear out weeds, cut trees, or grade out dips and bumps before doing the layout. A well-cleared fence line is easier to maintain and increases the longevity of the fence. Encroaching weeds and brush holds moisture, making game fence material prone to rot, rust, or electrical issues.
A well-cleared fence line also makes the fence more visible to livestock inside, predators outside, and other wandering critters.
Clear out old, dilapidated fences. Do not be tempted to shore them up. This will end up being more expensive than building a fence from scratch.
Prepare the fence layout
Drive stakes into the ground where corners and gates should go. Doing this will help you decide where you really want the fence to be. This will also show you where each post needs to be installed.
In terms of durability and ease of installation, an ideal fence consists of straight runs joined at right angle corners.
From a maintenance standpoint, curved corners are easier to mow than angled ones. However, curves require extra bracing, which will add to your expenses. Moreover, curves reduce the size of the fenced area.
If you plan to put a fence along your property line, your neighbor might be willing to share with the maintenance costs. Get an agreement in writing, detailing all the specifics.
Make sure your proposed game fence does not interfere with underground structures such as septic tanks, cable lines, and pipes for water and gas.
Determine where the gates should be
Moving gate posts can be frustrating and time-consuming, so carefully consider where you want to install them. Set up gate posts in well-drained areas to avoid muddy conditions. Keep them out of erosion-prone paths.
Movement patterns can help determine where your gates should be. If you are fencing a pasture, a gate near the corner will encourage foot traffic to move along the fence. If you are confining livestock, a corner gate lets you drive animals along the fence and out.
Be diligent with maintenance
The frequency of game fence inspections will depend on the kind of fence you have. Rail or woven fences in open land need to be inspected as often as you need to mow the area; electric fences in a wooded property should be checked daily.
Be diligent with your maintenance efforts to keep your fences functional for as long as possible.
At the end of the day, always plan your fence based on the worst possible scenario that could occur. Building a strong, secure fence now will save you from costly repairs and livestock loss in the future.
Straight Shooter Game Fencing specializes in high-tensile game fencing. We work with property owners throughout the US to provide the best fencing installation, service, and fencing materials at competitive prices. Get in touch with us to know more.