How to choose your fence

INTRODUCTION

So you’re thinking about building a beautiful fence around your acreage, but aren’t sure what type of fence best suits you. With almost a quarter-century experience designing and building fences, we are here to help you choose the most aesthetically pleasing and practical fence for your farm and ranch.Take a few minutes to read through this short guide to familiarize yourself with our process so we can work together to make the best decision for your particular situation and needs. Use the table of contents to find the sections that are most relevant to you. You can also download the guide to review at your convenience.

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WHAT IS COVERED IN THE GUIDE

This guide covers farm and ranch fence only; we do not provide small backyard fence service. It covers the different types of fences, including high tensile, woven wire, and traditional board fence, how they compare to each other, and which fence is best suited for each type of animal you may have. We will show you how to use our simple but powerful, and very fun, online tool that maps your property using satellite imagery, saving you both time and money. You can experiment with layouts and different types of fence, get the lineal feet of fence required, determine pasture size, identify the best locations for gates and openings, and get a detailed visual picture of the final design. For more assistance on any of the topics covered in this guide, please contact one of our specialists at Pro Fence. 888-896-4430

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE: FENCE TYPES

HIGH TENSILE FENCE

High tensile fence has become the most popular agricultural fence here in the east. Even though it is one of the more economical fences to install, it provides tremendous strength and durability and will give a lifetime of service.

Because of the heavy posts driven into the ground to support the wire, high tensile is not intended as a temporary fencing solution.

Weathered High Tensile Fence

It would be a daunting task for an animal to push their way through a high tensile fence by spreading the wires, so it works very effectively as a physical barrier. But they can get through if they are determined enough. So adding two strands of electric wire provides an excellent psychological barrier as well. The electric wire also prevents cattle from constantly pushing against the wires and wearing them down.

When shopping for high tensile fence here are a few important things to keep in mind.

Post size and post spacing:

Choosing the right post size is important. After more than 20 years of testing we have found that posts five to six inches in diameter deliver by far the most value. It is optimal for strength and is also the most attractive from a design standpoint. Pro Fence does not install any posts less than five inches and most of our posts are six inches or larger.

Wire:

The high tensile wire itself is engineered with tremendous strength. The innovation of this wire is that is has an unbelievable amount of elasticity when compared to the old barbed wire used in years gone by. This means that if an animal runs into the fence, high tensile wire can stretch, safely slowing the animal down without damaging the fence. The strength and elasticity depends on the grade of the high tensile wire. Pro Fence uses the highest grade of high tensile wire on all our fences as a standard.  High tensile fence can have a single wire or can be equipped with up to a dozen or more wires depending on needs. And the post spacing is adjusted accordingly as well. Less space between posts increases the strength of the fence; more space gives greater flexibility. This ability to customize to fit a range of needs is one reason this type of fence is so popular.

Uses:

Although most commonly used for cattle, high tensile fence is also used for sheep, horses, bison, and other exotic animals. When it comes to horses it does have a high risk of injury, which is discussed in greater detail in Chapter Two.

Braces:

The wire puts a lot of strain on the posts so it is important to brace the ends or corners by placing two fence posts in the ground eight feet apart and four feet into the ground. A horizontal pole is then run between these two posts, reinforced by a diagonal wire that holds the brace system together. This forms a very strong corner that will not heave or be pulled by the constant strain of the wire against the posts.

Most popular design:

The most popular high tensile fence used for fencing in cattle is a simple five wire fence with posts spaced every 24 feet and having two wires electrified. This fence is the most commonly used fence for cattle. It is popular with ranchers and farmers simply because it works well and is economical.

Specs

Posts

  • Length: 6.5 ft. Diameter: 5-6 in. Southern yellow pine (CCA) pressure treated
  • Spaced according to number of wires added

Bracing

  • Required at every end and corner
  • 8ft. length (4ft. in-ground)
  • 8ft. length horizontal
  • 5-6in. diameter posts
  • Southern yellow pine(CCA) pressure treated

Wire

  • Extra-high strength
  • 12.5 gauge
  • Electro galvanized
  • 200,000 PSI
  • Minimum breaking strength: 1617 lbs.
  • Electrified

Board Fence

The traditional board fence has more aesthetic appeal than any other fence type we offer. Any classic farm scene will include a nice board fence. A well built board fence will add to the value of any estate, making it well worth the extra cost and maintenance needed if visuals are a major concern. Building a nice board fence is a combination of art and science that we here at Pro Fence have had years of experience perfecting.

Post size and post spacing:

Universally, wood board fencing requires a post spacing of eight feet. The wood boards that are used are 16-feet long and need to span two openings (or stretch across three posts). Although board fence posts can be either round or square, ProFence only uses round posts because they last longer. When a board is nailed to a square post there is more surface for the board to contact, creating a moisture trap between the two pieces of wood. That in turn can lead to wood rot, decreasing the longevity of your fence.

Wood Boards:

Almost all board fences will have either three or four boards that run horizontally along the posts. The four-board fence will be stronger and will cost more per lineal foot then the three-board fence.

At ProFence we only use three kinds of boards—oak, treated southern yellow pine, and hemlock—all of which have about a 15-year maintenance-free life expectancy.

Oak Boards

Oak boards fall into the hardwood tree family. Horses do not eat oak as easily as pine and hemlock, and it holds up better under abuse, and has tremendous durability. The downside is that as it dries out it tends to warp a bit.

Hemlock Boards

Hemlock boards weather so well that they do not need any chemical treatment to preserve them. This natural ability to withstand the elements without rotting and decaying also helps protect our planet by eliminating the need for harsh chemical preservatives. These boards also do not warp and will look great for a long time.

The downside is if your horse is a cribber you will need to put a hot wire on the fence to keep your horse from eating the boards.

Southern Yellow Pine Boards

Southern yellow pine boards are a very popular board because it is one of the stronger boards in the pine family. And when treated with the chemical wood preservative chromated copper arsenate, it will last a long time and not warp. It will also be the most resistant to high acid content areas such as your barn or any other area with lots of manure.

Uses:

Board fence is by far most popular for horses but is also used for cattle. To really make the fence useful and keep wear to a minimum, it is important to install a hot wire to keep cattle from pushing against it and to keep horses from eating it.

Specs

Posts

  • Length: 7 feet
  • Diameter:  6 inches exact round diameter
  • Southern yellow pine (CCA) pressure treated
  • Spaced at 8 feet centers

Boards

  • Oak  (1”x 6” plank)
  • Hemlock (1.25”x 6” plank)
  • Southern yellow pine pressure treated (1.25’x 6” plank)

WOVEN WIRE

The woven wire fence is known by a lot of names: box wire, woven wire, non-climb, etc. We will use the term woven wire to describe any fence that has connected vertical and horizontal wires that form a grid. These grids can be many different sizes depending on the distance between the wires. Woven wire’s advantage over all other fences is its security; these fences are specifically designed to keep animals in or out. A tight grid of wires nailed securely on sturdy posts can keep something as small as a rabbit out and or keep an animal as big as a horse in. The only way animals can get through is if the fence is actually broken. If security is your highest priority then this clearly should be your fence of choice.

Post size and post spacing:

Five- to six-inch round treated posts, just like that used with the high tensile fence, is optimal when installing woven wire fencing. The primary difference is that the posts are normally spaced much closer together for maximum fence security. Post spacing varies on the size of the wire’s grid. For example, 12-foot post spacing with the 13-48-3 and the 2”x4” non-climb makes excellent choices for horse fence.

Wire:

Woven wire comes in many different shapes and sizes but there are only two primary categories: high tensile woven wire and non-high tensile woven wire.The difference is that high tensile woven wire has been through a specialized process that gives it 2000 percent more strength and also significantly increases its elasticity. This does not necessarily mean that regular wire is not a good choice under normal conditions where your fence wire won’t be tested to its maximum tensile strength. This extra strength, however, will keep your fence stretched tight and looking young for many years.

The numbers: A 13-48-3 means that the wire has 13 strands of wire running horizontally, it is 48” tall, and the upright wire or stays are space every three inches. The 2”x4” non-climb fence is simply a grid of boxes that are two-inches wide and four-inches tall.

Uses:

Woven wire is one of the most secure and versatile fences on the market. It is well suited for horses as they can’t get their feet tangled in it, and it is also very visible for a wire fence. It is almost impossible for cattle to get out without first destroying the fence—not a walk in the park. :) This fence also works great for keeping deer out as the wire can be bought to eight feet tall.

Braces:

Wire puts strain on the posts so it is important to brace the fence by placing posts in the ground eight feet apart and four feet into the ground. A horizontal pole is then run between these two posts, reinforced by a diagonal wire that holds the brace system together.

Most popular design:

The most popular woven wire design is a 13-48-6 fence with posts spaced every 12 feet.This fence, often used for both cattle and horses, is popular because it is extremely secure. Animals simply can’t push their way through the fence.

Specs

Posts

  • Length: 7 feet
  • Diameter: 5-6 inches
  • Southern yellow pine (CCA )pressure treated
  • Bracing required at every end and corner
  • Post length in ground: 8 feet (4’ in-ground)
  • Horizontal post:  8 feet

Wire

Non-climb

  • Height: 48 inches*
  • 13 line wires
  • 2”x4” squares
  • Class 3 galvanized

12.5 gauge

All other wire types

  • Height: 48 inches *
  • 13 line wires
  • Wire spacing varies (see below)
  • 12.5 gauge high tensile wire
  • Fixed-knot
  • Class 3 galvanized

*other sizes available

HORSE RAIL

The name horse rail is a dead giveaway that this fence was designed for horses. This a relatively new and high tech fence design that is meant to replicate a traditional board fence, with the added benefit of having low maintenance.The rail is made of five-inch wide vinyl that is stretched between and coated around three high tensile wires, giving the appearance of a board rail. It is a continuous rail that is installed with brackets on each post that allows the rail to slide. The rail is then stretched tight just like a standard high tensile wire fence. The initial cost of a horse rail is higher than a board fence, but if you factor in maintenance over the life span of the fence, it can be a very economical choice.

Posts:

Due to the wider surface of the horse rail it catch’s wind and has a tendency to flap. By keeping our post spacing no greater than twelve feet apart we can eliminate the problem of the wind damaging this fence.

Braces:

Double bracing is required to hold up under the extra tension produced by horse rail fence. Here at Pro Fence we make it a standard to use double bracing for this fence. Also, if you are using this fence for horses, we will install a horse safe brace wire so that your animal is not at risk of getting his feet caught in this wire.

Poly Coat

Poly coat fencing is specifically designed for horses and engineered for maximum visibility. This fence is primarily the same as a high tensile fence except that it has a coating of white poly covering the high tensile wire to give it more visibility. Poly wire has the ability to carry electricity to keep the wear on the fence to a minimum. By keeping these wires charging you, will keep your horses from constantly pushing against the fence and damaging it. This fence is ideal in that it provides high visibility for your horses to see, along with electricity to keep horses from pushing on the fence.

Braces:

The wire puts a lot of strain on the posts so it is important to brace the ends or corners by placing two fence posts in the ground eight feet apart and four feet into the ground. A horizontal pole is then run between these two posts, reinforced by a diagonal wire that holds the brace system together. This forms a very strong corner that will not heave or be pulled by the constant strain of the wire against the posts. If you are using this fence for horses we will install a horse safe brace wire, so that your animal is not at risk of getting his feet caught in this wire.

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Chapter 2: Choosing the Right Fence for your Animals

This chapter discusses best practices for fencing in cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and exotic animals; how each animal reacts to different types of fencing; what unique characteristics each animal has in regards to keeping them contained safely; and what fence type works best with each animal.

Horses

The ideal fences for horses are a board fence, horse rail, woven wire, and a poly coat wire fence.

Horses are some of the easiest animals to keep fenced in but the most difficult to keep safe from injuries. For this reason high tensile wire is not the best choice because it poses a substantial risk for injuring your horses. When horses get their feet caught or tangled in wire they panic and they will almost always break free regardless of how badly they get hurt. Where cattle do not panic like this, horses do, and often make the situation much worse, even to the point of irreversible injuries.

Some of our clients, however, take a calculated risk and use high tensile wire for fencing their horses because it is very economical. But be sure you fully understand the risks before you use this fence for your horse. Also, a high tensile wire fence is not that visible. Some clients tie white ribbons on the wires or come up with some other creative solution to overcome this problem.

If however you want the best fence for your horse and totally eliminate the risk of injury, there are better, albeit more expensive, options. Realistically all the other fences that we install make a better option for horses. Woven wire is a very practical fence. Board fence is an elegant fence that adds a lot of character to your property. Horse rail is a high-tech, low-maintenance fence that is highly visible for your animals and also looks great. The poly coat takes a very economical fence—the high tensile fence—and adds visibility to it making it better suited for horses.

Cattle

Cattle are relatively easy to keep in. Once they get used to a fence the biggest problem has more to do with cattle wearing it down by constantly pushing against it. You can save yourself a lot of maintenance time and cost by keeping some hot wires on the fence. Any one of the fences we have mentioned work just fine for cattle, with high tensile being the most popular.

Sheep/Goats

Sheep and goats are some of the hardest animals to keep in as they are very agile and will try getting through about any fence on the market. For this reason we recommend you go with woven wire for keeping these guys in. The fence that we recommend and that is the most popular for goats is the 13-48-3 woven wire fence.

Deer

We have found from experience that an eight foot tall woven wire fence is most effective for deer control. As we all know deer have the ability to jump over tall obstacles with graceful ease. But white-tail deer prefer not to jump; they would much rather go under or through a fence, and when pressured they often go through high tensile fences so a fence that is simply tall is not necessarily a good enough solution; it also needs to be a very tight fence so we recommend a eight foot tall woven wire fence as the optimal choice for fencing out unwanted white tail deer.

Exotic Animals

When it comes to exotic animals—llamas, alpaca, bison, etc.—woven wire fence is good choice as it is very secure. However in many cases high tensile wire may be more than sufficient and more economical. There are so many different situations when it comes to these types of animals that we won’t be able to cover them here in this guide. So we suggest that you give one of our experienced technicians a call and we can custom design the fence that best works for your unique situation.

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Chapter 3: Planning Your Fence

A little planning can go a long way in getting the most for your money and the results you are expecting. We here at Pro Fence have made this easy. Use our online Fence Planning tool to help you determine the length of fence you will need to put in, allowing us to give you an accurate quote. We also have a video prepared explaining the process of planning and building your fence so you know what to expect for your fence.

Finding the Fence Length

It is actually quite easy to determine the length of your fence using Google Maps. There are full instructions here. To summarize, you can look up your property using google maps. In satellite view, left click and choose measure distance. You can then plot the distance around your pasture. Google maps will tell you both the distance around the field, as well as the area of the pasture enclosed. This will help us give you a more accurate quote even on your first call.

Preparing for Construction

So you have laid out the fence and contracted with us and are now ready to get the fence installed. There are a few things that you should consider to make the installation go as smooth as possible and for the best possible results.The first is to make sure the area where the fence will built is clear. We recommend having at least a 12-feet wide path on each side of the fence cleared. If there are some trees or other obstructions we can possibly work around them but we need to know beforehand. Understanding how saturated ground can affect the installation process is also important. The more saturated or wet the ground is that we are working on the more tracks we will inevitably leave behind. There comes a time when it is just plain muddy and we’ll make a total mess of things. This of course is just common sense, but we suggest if you have any reservations that you call and discuss the impact of our equipment on your pasture with one of our specialists.

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Chapter 4: What to Expect

Scheduling

To have your expectations grounded in reality, there are two primary things to keep in mind in regards to how weather affects installation schedule: seasonal weather (winter) and rainy days. When the weather gets very cold for long periods in the winter the ground can freeze to the point where it makes it virtually impossible to install fence. This obviously can vary from one winter to another and is not predictable. But if you schedule for fencing to be installed during the winter you may be forced to wait until the ground thaws in the spring. Rainy days are also out of our control. So as with any construction there needs to be some flexibility on your part in scheduling due to weather. If you prepare for this from the start it will go a long way in ensuring a positive collaboration in scheduling around weather patterns.

Construction Day

So today is the big day you have been planning on and waiting for. If you have never used Pro Fence before and are used to most construction companies’ practices we believe you will be pleasantly surprised. You can expect our highly proficient and courteous team of experts to show up in the morning at our agreed upon time. They will normally arrive in two vehicles: a crew cab pickup truck and a heavy duty truck that will be hauling the supplies and pulling a short trailer with the equipment that will be used to finish the project. There are two primary pieces of equipment that are actually used in the installation process. The first machine is a skid loader with oversized floatation tires and a special attachment that is used to drive the posts into the ground. The second machine is a small utility tractor used to stretch wire and carry supplies along the fence line as the wire or boards are being installed. Both machines are designed to leave the least amount of tracks on or damage to the ground as possible. Some damage is inevitable depending on the condition of the ground.

How long will the project take?

With most types of fences we can install about 2000 feet of fence per day. This can vary depending on the conditions: how dry or wet the soil is, how steep the terrain, etc. But we have advanced our equipment and skills to be able to get the job done very efficiently. I have no doubts you will be pleasantly surprised at the speed of your new fence being installed. Most of our jobs are finished in a few days.

Quality

The quality of fence can vary tremendously, depending on the materials and installation process used.The posts are the backbone of a fence: the core structure. So of course it makes sense that we want strong posts that last a long time. Here at Pro Fence we use southern yellow pine, one of the strongest and hardest woods in the pine family, to insure that you get the best possible fence. These posts are pressure treated with the most advanced method to preserve them from deteriorating in the elements.

There are basically two ways to install posts into the ground. The first is to dig or auger a hole in the ground that is larger than the post, put the post in, and then fill and compact the hole back around the post. The second is by using a post driver, which is essentially a very heavy hammer that drives the post into the ground. This is the only way we install fence posts.

When you drill a hole to set a post in then return the dirt, it will not compact anywhere close to what it was originally. However, if you drive the post into virgin soil with shear force the post will be 10 times more stable. In fact, it will be embedded so strongly that in most cases a small bobcat loader cannot pull it out of the ground, whereas I can pull most fence post out with my bare hands.

The fence posts carry the tension of wires trying to pull them out of the ground for many years. And with the freezing and thawing of the ground they are under constant attack to be pulled out of the ground. Most posts that are simply augured into the ground will began to lean and heave and pull out of the ground leaving you with a weak and unsightly fence.

So whether you use Pro Fence where we drive all our posts in the ground with the most advanced techniques available, or go with another fencing contractor, be sure to not settle for less than your fence posts driven into the ground the right way.

As a side note, at Pro Fence we engineer our own machines and system for driving posts into the ground. We are constantly improving this process for all types of soil conditions including solid rocks. We have been perfecting our proprietary equipment and techniques for the past 20 years and are confident that it is the best on today’s market.

The next most important aspect of a fence’s integrity is the size of posts used. ProFence does not use any fence posts that are less than five inches, with an average post diameter of six inches. After years of testing we found that a six inch fence post is the optimal size: less than this puts the integrity of the fence at risk; more can improve the strength, but not enough to justify the exponentially greater cost. Six-inch posts are the minimum size for the maximum result.

Design

Here at Pro Fence we take great pride not only in our workmanship but also in designing an outstanding fence. We know how your fence looks is very important. You have invested a lot in your acreage and want to have your fence add value to and showcase your real estate. Designing a fence that fits its surroundings may sound like a deceptively simple process but a gentle curve in the fence, designed correctly by the practiced eye of our teams’ leaders, is an art that takes years to master and is the difference between an outstanding fence and one that is, at best, mediocre. With almost no turn over, most of the Pro Fence team has been with us since we started. By choosing the industry leader, Pro Fence, you will be sure to get the very best fence.

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Chapter 5: Maintaining Your Fence

Board Fence

A board fence obviously requires more maintenance because it is 100 percent wood. The posts are southern yellow pine that has undergone a CCA preservative treatment that the manufacturer guarantees for 20 years. The boards are also treated with CCA so your fence should last at least 20 years. There are other maintenance tips you can follow to further extend the life of your fence such as painting or staining the fence no less then every three years.

Wire Fence

Wire fences, including high tensile and woven wire, require very little maintenance. Basically, just keep the wires tight and keep the fence line mowed so weeds don’t short out the hot wires and trees don’t grow and destroy the fence.

Horse Rail Fence

Keeping your horse rail fence looking nice takes very little work—doesn’t maintenance free have a nice ring to it? Of course there are still the common sense things that you should do occasionally: keep the wires tight and the weeds mowed so you don’t have a hedge take over your fence. We hope you enjoy years of nearly no work on this high tech fence!

Conclusion

I hope this guide has been helpful in finding the right fence property for your individual needs. You will most likely still have questions, which is why we are always just one phone call away here at Pro Fence. We highly value your input and would like to hear from you! Has the information been useful? How can we improve this page? Have you used Pro Fence before and how was your experience?

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Contact us today for a free estimate

We are here to help you via email or at 800 433 6236





Type of Fence:

Primary Animal:

Timing:

Profence 94 Hershey Rd. Shippensburg Pa 17257

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