UACES Facebook Ranchers need to take up fencing to prevent wandering livestock
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Ranchers need to take up fencing to prevent wandering livestock

By Lisa Lakey
U of A System Division of Agriculture
April 22, 2016 

Fast Facts:

  • Ranchers need to check wire fences for sagging, breakage
  • Check for trees, other vegetation that can compromise fencing 

(450 words)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. --- With age comes sagging – at least when it comes to wire pasture fences, and the advent of grazing season means it’s time to check those fences to keep livestock from wandering, said Dirk Philipp, associate professor-Animal Science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

Barbed wire fence in bad shape

The majority of wire fencing is either “a perimeter fence or permanent fence made from barbed wire for closing in properties and larger pastures,” he said, or polywire, which “is used for sectioning off paddocks and applying specific grazing methods.” 

Philipp said the perimeter fence is the last line of defense when animals break out of paddocks, which means problems in the fence need to be caught early and promptly repaired. Over time the wire strands will loosen and can sag, making it possible for calves and smaller animals to push through. However, it’s more than just the lines that need checking. 

“T-posts may bend and pull the wire strands with it,” he said. “This happens over time as animals push against posts or the posts are accidentally hit by equipment. H-braces and gate attachments should also be checked to make sure gates close properly and latches are still intact.” 

According to Philipp, once a barbed wire fence is damaged it can be hard to repair, so upkeep is necessary. And this includes making sure brush and tree growth along the fence lines are controlled and not interfering with the function of the fence. 

“Many times tree growth destroys fences,” he said. “Limbs are breaking wire strands and bending or breaking posts. Regular application of roundup helps to keep fence lines clean and manageable.” 

In addition to maintaining perimeter fences, polywire electric fences need to be checked as well. Philipp said because these are temporary, they can easily be replaced and repaired if needed. While the brand doesn’t really matter, Philipp said it does pay to invest in good quality wire reels, chargers, handles and posts. He offers a few more tips for handling polywire fences during the grazing season. 

“Invest in a strong charger and a good quality tester for determining the charge far away from the charger location,” he said. “There are small portable chargers available for independent paddock setup. Place temporary fences so that the charge does not get shortened out or reduced due to weed growth along the fence line or poorly attached wire to gate handles. Ground rods should be placed ten feet apart to handle larger fencing systems.” 

Philipp said there is a wealth of information on properly installing and fixing fences, so when in doubt ask for help. 

“Get in touch with your county extension agent to address specific questions if needed,” he said.


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 




Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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