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Farmers and ranchers have used wire fencing to contain livestock for decades. Wire fencing is quick and easy to install without special tools or training. In most cases, five or six strands of wire are enough to contain cattle, especially if you choose to use barbed wire. You can even move the fencing without too much trouble. Temporarily, it works well.

Barbed Wire Fencing

While livestock owners can be held responsible for damage caused by their animals if they get loose, many local laws prohibit the use of barbed wire fencing. Ensure you know what is legal in your area and understand where this type of fencing does not work well before you begin installing it.

1. Pet Barrier – Dogs can be a great resource on the ranch. They warn you of intruders and can help herd cattle and other animals. However, barbed wire is not the best way to keep your hardworking dog contained. You understand the danger of the barbs, but your dog won’t see what you see. He may try to jump over or between the wires only to get his fur caught on a barb. His struggles to free himself may only ensnare him further, leading to further injury.

2. Around Children – Kids learn about the world by exploring it. From the time they are able to crawl and walk, they gravitate towards new things. They want to touch, taste, climb, and feel. They are not always aware of the dangers around them. A run-in with a barbed wire fence while playing tag or catch or doing chores can lead to severe injury and a trip to the Emergency Room.

3. Property Boundary – Barbed wire is not allowed as a border fence in most locations as it can lead to injury. It is also unfriendly and unattractive. It is best to talk with your neighbor before deciding to build a fence on a shared property line. You and your neighbor should agree on a suitable material and may even share the installation cost.

4. Horse Corral – Horses behave differently from other animals on the ranch, making barbed wire fencing more dangerous for them. If you have ever watched a horse run around, you have seen the way that they take advantage of all the space they have. They run around the edges of their enclosure, just missing the fence. If the horse were to veer off course for just a second, they could injure themselves on the barbs.

Wire fencing may not be very visible to animals either. A horse spooked by the weather or a predatory animal may charge right through the wires causing injury to itself and the fence at the same time.

Horses also like to reach over or between fence rails to eat grass growing on the other side. This type of feeding behavior could lead to serious injury if the horse were to become entangled in the wires. Horse owners steer clear of barbed wire fencing for their animals. Installing barbed wire could hurt your prospects of selling down the road.

Ranch Rail Fencing

A popular alternative to barbed wire is ranch rail fencing. Although it will cost more for the initial installation, it is still a very economical choice for large animal enclosures.

  • Affordable – Because ranch rail fences do not have pickets and contain a lot of open space, they do not use as much wood as other fencing styles.
  • Stylish – Unlike the rough-cut rails of split rail fences, ranch rail posts and rails are usually 2x6s or 2x8s. These clean-cut boards give the fence a polished look.
  • Customizable – Most ranch rail fences consist of two or three rails running parallel to the ground between posts. The number and spacing of the rails may be adapted to the size and behavior of the animals housed within.If you are looking for a unique design, other ranch rail variations look great as well. Crossbuck and diamond ranch rail variations can make your fence unique while still allowing you to provide security for your animals.
  • Paintable – Leaving your cedar ranch rail fence to weather naturally is always an option. Over time it will turn a silvery gray color. However, staining or painting your fence will help it last longer. It also improves the overall appearance of the fence and cuts back on maintenance.
  • Visible – Perhaps most important to ranch owners, ranch rail fences are highly visible to animals. Horses, cattle, goats, and dogs will all be aware of the fence and their boundaries – boundaries that will not hurt them if they touch them.

Wire fencing can be an attractive choice when you need to fence large distances or areas. However, when choosing the best fence for the animals on your ranch, wire options lose their luster. Ranch rail fencing helps to keep the cost down while maintaining the safety of your animals.