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Types of Fence Wire

Fence wire, supported by tension, is stretched between reinforced posts located at ends, corners and at intervals in between long stretches to form an enclosure or exclosure. You will use smaller posts in between to ensure fence wires are kept spaced and upright.


There are several types of fence wires you can use, depending on the purpose of the fence and the animal being controlled. For a permanent perimeter fence, steel or aluminum wire can be used as your fence wire.


If desired, you can electrify fence wire with the use of a fence charger. Fence wire conducts the electric charge from the fence charger around the length of the fence.


There are many wire types available to. Your selection, as well as number of wires and spacing, will depend on the type of fence, the type of animal you are containing and how long the fence will stay in place.


NOTE:  When purchasing wire for your electric fence system, remember the lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire. Most electric fences use 14 or 17 gauge wire depending on the length of the fence and what animal is being contained or repelled.



Types of Fence Wire


Woven Wire


Woven wire is identified by the wire "knots" wrapped around each intersecting wire giving its "woven" appearance. Woven wire is more costly to purchase and install than basic wire, but is safer and less expensive than wood, pipe, or other fencing materials. When combined with one or more strands of barbed wire and/or electric wire at the top and possibly another at the bottom, woven wire is an effective means of containing pigs, sheep or goats.


Features and Benefits

Ideal Uses

Safely contains many species of livestock

Permanent fencing

Less expensive than wood, pipe fencing

Perimeter fencing


NOTE:  Woven wire with large openings (a.k.a. sheep fence) can be potentially hazardous to wild animals and horses. In this case, a variation of woven wire called "field fence" with smaller, narrower openings at the bottom and wider openings at the top should be used.



Steel Wire


Galvanized steel wire will last the lifetime of the fence and is the most commonly used wire.


Features and Benefits

Ideal Uses

Steel wire is a basic, economic wire

Semi-permanent fencing

Carries charge long distance w/ extensions

Permanent fencing

Can use with any type of charger

Perimeter fencing


Note:  Steel wire can be used with any type of charger and when connected properly to like wire extensions, this wire can carry a charge for very long distances. 



Aluminum Wire


Aluminum wire is the best for carrying a charge.  Aluminum conducts electricity four times better than steel wire. While it will cost more, aluminum wire does not rust like un-galvanized steel wire.


Features and Benefits

Ideal Uses


Permanent fencing

Carries charge 4x better than steel

Perimeter fencing

Lifetime warranty, will not rust






High-tensile electric fencing wire is an excellent choice for not only safely containing most species of livestock, including exotic species, but it is also effective at keeping predators out.


High-tensile fence wire can be used as a simple barrier or electrified for greater effectiveness. Fencing systems made from high-tensile fencing wire are affordable and long-lasting, over 40 years.  Another benefit of high-tensile wire fencing is its low maintenance. High-tensile wire is most often 12 or 12.5 gauge galvanized steel and will state that it is for high-tensile systems on its packaging.


Features and Benefits

Ideal Uses

Affordable and low maintenance

Simple barrier or electrified for greater efficiency

Safely contain most species of livestock

Permanent fencing

Effective at keeping predators out

Perimeter fencing


Barbed Wire


Barbed wire is a steel fencing constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the wire strand. It is used commonly to construct inexpensive fences and was the first wire technology capable of containing livestock.


Barbed wire is made in a variety of styles. Typical strand variations include two to five strands. Barbed wire fencing is simple to construct and quick to erect, even by novice fencers, requiring only fence posts, wire and a device, such as staples, to attach the wire to the post.


Features and Benefits

Ideal Uses

Inexpensive, simple

Security fencing

Quick, simple to erect

Perimeter fencing


NOTE:  Precautions to protect against injury (due to the barbs) should be adopted when handling barbed wire fencing. Make sure you wear protective clothes, gloves, and boots to prevent bodily harm. In addition, barbed wire is not a recommended livestock fencing option. Barbed wire is dangerous and likely to damage animals that come into contact with it.




Poly Fencing Materials


Poly fencing is commonly used for temporary fencing and includes polywire, polyrope (or braid), and polytape. Constructed of a combination of metal and plastic filaments, poly fencing consists of small wire strands which serve as the conductors. Woven together with polyethylene, this design produces tape, wire, and rope versions. Polytape will have more conductors woven into it versus polyrope or polywire due to its larger surface area.


When considering which poly fencing material might work best for your needs, be sure to consider the type of metal from which the conductors are made. Aluminum stretches easily and can look sloppy over time. Stainless steel wire is a much better conductor option and will allow wires to stay tensioned and have a long life. Some brands, such as Zareba's Electrobraid, use pure copper as a conductor. Copper is the third best electrical conductor next to silver and gold and is 70 times more conductive than stainless steel.


General characteristics which set poly fencing apart from wire include:

  • High visibility
  • Decreased weight due to a thinner wire
  • Reduced charge when compared with traditional wire due to higher resistance ratings
    • Note: Resistance is represented by OHMs. The higher the resistance rating (OHMs) is the less electrical charge a wire carries and the lower the total distance it will be carried. Low resistance values are preferred.
  • Adding more wires and copper conductor wires, along with installing high power charger, can improve conductivity.



Types of Poly Fencing




Polytape provides greater visibility than polywire or polyrope and is often used for horse fencing. Reinforced, rip-stop edges also help protect the tape from wear and tear. The open weave design allows wind to pass through, reducing wear and increasing the longevity of the fence line.


Splicing poly tape is easy using specially designed splicer buckles. Use a poly tape tensioner to maintain tape tension as needed. For best results, energize poly tape fence lines with a low impedance fence charger.  Poly tape should not be used with a continuous output charger.


Features and Benefits

Ideal Uses

Highly visible to animals

Excellent for horses


Temporary fencing

Wind passes through, low wear & tear

Rotational grazing

Convenient to install and repair

Equine fence kits

Will not rust




Polywire / Polyrope


Polywire is a good fence choice since it is more visible than traditional metal wire, lightweight and installs easily.  Polywire is easily tightened, spliced, repaired and rewound. Use a poly wire tightener to maintain wire tension as needed.


Polywire can be re-used again and again making it a convenient wire for temporary, strip or rotational grazing and pet control. Polywire should not be used with continuous output chargers.


Polyrope (or braid) is another excellent high visibility choice for your fence line. It is stronger than polywire, with stainless steel strands woven through the rope. The steel strands ensure maximum electrical energy is carried through the fence line at all times. Use a splicer to maintain a good connection.  Most polyropes are about 1/4 inch in diameter.


Features and Benefits

Ideal Uses

More visible than traditional wire

Horse fencing

Lightweight, convenient to use

Temporary and rotational grazing

Easier to install, repair, and splice than metal wire

Controlled grazing

Will not rust, resistant to breaking and stretching


Note: For best results, use a low impedance fence charger to energize polywire and polyrope fences. Polyrope should not be used with continuous output chargers.





ElectroBraid is a permanent electric fence polyrope / braid designed especially for horses. When electrified, it is both a physical barrier and a psychological deterrent, and is highly visible to horses.


ElectroBraid looks like high quality braided yachting rope and is a Strong, durable and resilient fencing material. A double helix of copper wire conductors is braided into an outer jacket of the rope. Available in white, black, or checkered, this highly visible containment option uses the same polyester fiber found in automotive seat belts and parachute harnesses.


Features and Benefits

Ideal Uses

Safely secures and minimizes injuries

Designed specifically for horse fencing

Easy to install

Semi-permanent fencing

Durable, resilient, affordable

Perimeter fencing

Versatile uses

Temporary to permanent fencing uses