Contributed by: Valerie Mellema (www.grayhorsepublishing.com)
Fencing serves several purposes. The right fence can make your farm look like a million bucks. It serves to keep your animals in and unwanted visitors out. But, it comes in so many types that it can be hard to determine which fence is best.
When you’re choosing fencing, safety is always the non-negotiable point. Some fencing is not safe for horses, while it is fine for cattle or other livestock animals. Fencing that is never safe for horses includes barbed wire and large, square mesh. Barbed wire has caused major injuries in horses that have attempted to run through it or jump over it. Mesh fence can cause trapped hooves and similar issues.
Horse fencing should be 5 feet tall at a minimum and the bottom part of the fencing 6 to 8 inches off the ground. This will prevent foals or small horses from rolling out of the field. Six foot fences are recommended for stallions and jumpers.
While considering fencing, one thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to use the same type of fence everywhere. You can use different types depending on the situation and the animals it’s keeping in.
Electric fencing is very popular in East Texas. It’s easy to put and take down. You can easily make new pens and pastures with it and it’s affordable. Electric fencing can also be used in conjunction with other types of fencing, such as wood to create safe pastures for stallions for instance. It also prevents horses from leaning on or chewing wood fencing as well.
Horses quickly learn that the fencing is hot and it doesn’t take them long to create their own personal bubble in which they won’t get very close to the fence, even if it’s turned off. My only hesitation with electric fence is if you have small children. It’s important that they are aware of the fence and that it will hurt them.
Pipe fence will last for decades. It’s one of the most expensive types of fencing and can also require quite a bit of maintenance, as it will need painted regularly to prevent rust. Saying that, it’s very secure and definitely a long term investment. One drawback to pipe fencing is that you can’t change it once it’s in place, or at least not easily. Pipe fencing does make for a very nice look around the perimeter of a farm though and other fencing can be used on the interior pastures of your farm.
While this fencing is gorgeous, but I’ve seen more than one horse kick through it or knock down a panel. Although it is designed to break under pressure, broken pieces can also cause cuts and injuries. This is something to keep in mind and it’s recommended that a string of electric fencing is used in conjunction if you want to keep it looking pretty. This is a high investment fence, so like pipe, it looks awesome on the perimeter of a farm, around gates, etc.
Wooden fencing is classic. Just imagine all of the black board fencing you see as you drive across Kentucky. Then imagine who has to paint it all! Maintenance is a drawback to wood fencing, as is cost, but in the end, it can be used in a variety of situations and is considered horse safe. To help prevent horses from chewing and leaning, it’s recommended to run a string of hotwire along it to keep it looking nice.
Woven wire is one of the most inexpensive fencing options. It is recommended that you use it in conjunction with wood fencing so that it is more visible to horses. V-mesh wire is great because animals have a hard time climbing it and it is safe for foals. V-mesh is more expensive than regular woven wire. These two wire options can also discourage horses from leaning on it. One type of wire to avoid is plain smooth wire. The wire is difficult for horses to see. You can find PVC coated wire, but it is going to be more expensive.
PVC Strap or Vinyl Fencing
If you like the look of PVC fencing, but not the cost, PVC strap fencing gives you a similar look. The PVC straps are attached to fence posts and comes in different colors. It’s very low maintenance and flexible.
This brand of fencing is a polymer wire fence. It is recommended to use 4 to 5 strands for horses and donkeys. It is installed with either wood posts or T-posts. Due to the nature of the wire, it allows the animals to “bounce” off when they hit it and it has 1250 pounds of breaking strength per strand. It is protected by UV inhibitors to keep it strong and maintenance free for many years.
Remember, no matter what type of fencing you choose, safety should always be the first concern.
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