Barbless, or smoothwire, fencing is an economical way to control livestock without the dangers of a barbed wire fence. For the most part, it is not effective for cattle unless it is backed up with an electric charge or electric wire. But for horses, mules and other similar livestock, it is a good choice if you are on a budget or have a lot of area to fence. Preparation, as with most projects, is the key.
Things You'll Need
- T-post fence clips
- Corner brace posts
- Fencing tool
- Wire cutters
- Rolls of barbless wire
- Fence clips
- Post hole digger or auger for drilling holes
- Work gloves
Installing Smooth Wire Fence
This is the most important step of the fencing process. Using your post hole digger or auger, you will dig holes to a minimum of two feet, place your brace posts inside them, and then cement them in. You must use heavy-duty materials for your brace posts, as they will endure all the stress of the fence over the years and the tightening and re-tightening of the fenceline. Allow the cement to cure for at least 72 hours before attaching any fenceline to them. Once the cement has dried, you can then complete your H-brace or other corner post construction. The stronger you make your corner posts, the stronger your fence line will be.
Using a guidewire, run a line from one corner post to the next. Run it about 6 inches from the ground and tighten it from one post to the next--you want it just tight enough to be taut. Once you have the guidewire up, drive your T-posts along the guideline every 8 to 10 feet.
Using one roll at a time, fence in your pasture. Attach the line to your corner post and run it to the next post. Use your fencing tools to tighten the line, then use your fence clips to attach the line to the T-post. You will need a minimum of four lines of wire to make the fence safe and solid. Five or six lines are even better. Do not attach the smooth wire to the T-posts until the wire is sufficiently tightened.
To maintain your smoothwire fence and keep the animals off of it, it is recommended you run at least one strand of hotwire along the fenceline. This can be along the top of the fence, or it can be in the middle. Run the hotwire just as you would a standard fencewire, except you will use electric fence clips to secure it to the T-posts. Attach this hotwire to a fence charger and make certain the lines are working by using a fence tester.
Double check your corner posts before calling it quits. Make sure that the lines to the post are all tight, and that the posts are not being pulled out of the ground. If you have a post that is showing strain, it may be necessary to take the fence down and start from scratch with that corner post.
Tips & Warnings
- Always take the time to do your corner posts properly. If you mess these up, it messes up your whole fence. Ask for help if you need it, but do it right!
- Always use caution when operating any type of machinery, such as an auger. These can be dangerous if not handled properly.
- Photo Credit Courtesy of Flickr.com
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