The wire fence is an inexpensive alternative to more traditional post and board fences. Wire fences require posts, but instead of boards or rails use wire to contain livestock. This type of fence provides more versatility since wire fences are easier to install and can be electrified or left non-electrified, depending upon the type of animal you wish to contain with your fence.
The most important component of a wire fence is its posts. Posts are typically either pressure-treated wood or steel. When you install wire fencing, be sure the corner posts and gate posts are minimally 8 inches in diameter, which maximizes the strength of your fence. Your line posts can be all wood posts, all steel T-posts or a combination of the two. Wood line posts should be 3.5 inches or more in diameter. You must sink the wood posts into the ground a minimum of 30 inches, so obtain posts that are 30 to 36 inches longer than your desired fence height.
One of the reasons for the popularity of wire fences is the variety of wires that are available. Many livestock owners use smooth wire, usually 12.5-gauge galvanized steel, to construct a high-tensile wire fence, which can be stretched very tightly and electrified to maximize protection from predators. Woven wire fence, a wire net constructed of intersecting vertical and horizontal wires in various heights, must be stretched during installation as well to keep it from sagging and allowing animals to escape. Installing barbed wire requires a great deal of careful work, since the regularly spaced barbs can easily pierce your skin and cause a deep gash.
Installing wire fences requires you to use some specialized tools that will help the work go much faster and more efficiently. Unless you choose to hire a professional to dig your post holes, a hand-held post hole digger will make your job a lot easier. You must use a hammer and wire cutters to cut and install each section of fence on the fence posts with insulators, staples or clips. Various styles of wire strainers also make your job of tightening the fence strands much easier. Wear a good pair of leather gloves to protect your hands from cuts when you work with wire.
The costs of installing a wire fence varies with the type of wire you choose to use. According to Iowa State University Cooperative Extension, material costs for a high-tensile wire fence are typically the least expensive, followed by barbed wire and woven wire, respectively. Another factor that affects cost is the type of posts you use. Regardless of the fence style you choose to install, usually a combination of wood posts and steel T-posts provide the most cost-efficient line post option, since alternating the posts maximizes fence strength while minimizing cost.
Take the species of livestock into consideration when installing your wire fence. A non-electrified high-tensile wire fence is incapable of containing a horse, but it could easily keep cattle contained. A common fence for all-round livestock usage is the woven wire fence, topped with one or two strands of barbed wire or electrified high-tensile wire. If you plan on using your wire fence for many years, install one that has longevity. Usually, an electrified high-tensile wire fence will last many years longer than a non-electrified fence.