Fencing for cattle
Radio interview source: Jane Parish, Extension Beef Specialist, Mississippi State University
Whether you have one cow or an entire herd of cattle, good fencing keeps them out of trouble. Cattle will challenge a fence if they're temperamental or spooked, and newly-weaned calves trying to get back to their mothers might test a fence, too. Jane Parish is an extension beef specialist at Mississippi State University. She says the key to a good cattle fence is to build it properly out of sturdy material.
"If you were to have the wire on the wrong side of the fence where the cattle could get up against it and push it, things like that could cause some problems. You want to use materials that are not going to be susceptible to the weather," says Parish. "If you use wood you want it to be treated wood that won't rot. But the other thing is, the engineering of the fence, the structure of the fence, you wouldn't want to have the wires spaced too far apart because then the cattle could maybe go under it or go through it."
Traditional fence materials include barbed wire, woven mesh, and electric wire. What you choose depends on the species and temperament of the animals, and your production system. A barbed wire fence is the least expensive, but is also high-maintenance and has a shorter lifespan.
To hold cattle in, Parish says a fence should generally be about five-feet tall.
"From the bottom of the ground, 11-18-inches is probably the good range on where you need to be above the ground. That's a start right there," says Parish. And as far as wire spacing, on a typical T-post fence, you want to have at least four wires and a lot of people will go with five wires, and pretty evenly spaced."
Plan your fence layout so livestock have continuous access to water. The area should include shade, such as under trees or inside a structure. It's also important to have proper gate placement for moving animals.
Find more information on resources for cattle fencing
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