Now that you know some information about the types of fences, animal control needs and other factors, you are ready for the next step – planning your fence.
In this section, we take you through the basic steps of planning and designing your fence. This includes planning the fence layout, determining what components you need, and preparations you will need to make before you begin building.
Investigate Fencing Laws
It is important to consider adjacent landowners when planning a fence, especially for perimeter or boundary fences, since there is potential for conflicting views. Investigate local and state laws to determine your legal rights and responsibilities in regards to fencing systems.
Fencing is a major investment. In some situations, you may be eligible for cost-share opportunities through government programs. Consult your local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) or Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) on the availability of cost-share funds and tax credits for fencing and water delivery systems for livestock.
Sketch It - Plan Your Layout
It helps to plan your fence layout in advance and choose the various components you’ll need to complete the installation.
Using the planning guide (click image for full document), sketch out the area you wish to enclose, noting distances. Then draw in the approximate locations of buildings or barns that will be adjacent to or enclosed by the fence.
Also include in your plan:
- Location of water supplies and feeding stations
- Trees or other obstacles
- Low or wet spots
- Entrance/exit points where gates are needed — note the length of gates and type needed
- Fence termination points (e.g., at a building)
- Location of fence charger and electrical source (if applicable)
- Cross fences within the pasture area (temporary or permanent)
Boundaries and Topography
Aerial photographs of your farm are probably the most valuable fence planning tool and can help to establish field boundaries for pastures. In addition, topographical maps can provide valuable information on the contour and slope of the land you will be installing your fence on.
Aerial maps are commonly available from NRCS or the Farm Service Agency (FSA) office in your area. Topographical maps can also be obtained from NRCS. Also consider using online tools like the Web Soil Survey and Google Earth to help better determine the lay of your land.
Review the wire options appropriate to the type of fence you are installing. Remember with electric fence, the wire conducts the electric charge from the fence charger around the length of the fence.
Some typical wire spacing options are shown below. If using electric fencing, position one electrified wire at animal’s shoulder height; this will cause it to hit the fence with its nose, making it back up.
NOTE: The height and spacing of the wires will vary based on the size of the animal(s) you are containing.