Choose Your Livestock Fence Depending On What You’re Keeping In—And Out

Jun 18th 2020


Fences Allow Property Owners To Enhance The Value And Functionality Of Their Property By Partitioning Land To Create Areas That Meet Specific Needs—Pastures, Paddocks, Riding Arenas And More.

The type of fence you will need depends on the livestock, crops, and other vegetation that border the fence. Horses will run through a fence or get tangled in it causing harm to themselves. Cattle will crawl over fences, sheep try to crawl under. Hogs try to root their way under a fence. Any livestock will put a fence to its greatest test when there is a lush green crop on the opposite side.

You can avoid or reduce these livestock frustrations by installing the correct fencing for your operations. The kinds of fences commonly used on farms include wood post-and-board, high-tensile wire, barbed wire, woven wire, electric, or a combination of any of these.

With good planning, you can install a fence strong enough to contain a horse, resilient enough to avoid harm to the animal if it charges, and also deter the horse from attempting to escape in the first place.


Cattle, Horses, Hogs

The traditional wood post-and-board fence is simple, elegant and will very effectively contain larger livestock such as horses, cattle and hogs. Post-and-board fences are typically used as border fences around farm buildings or the home. They are also popular on horse farms where expensive show animals are confined in pastures and ridden in riding rings. It gracefully welcomes guests and visitors as it flows over hills and gently curves borders. In addition to its outstanding performance, it’s the classic way to showcase your property.

Wood is a great building material: It’s strong, easy to work with, relatively inexpensive, and a renewable resource. Quality pressure-treated lumber makes the strongest and most durable wood fences. Use pine lumber pressure-treated with chromated copper arsenate for your wood fence, and plan for regular maintenance to get the longest life. And, adding electric fencing will make your life easier by discouraging livestock from pushing against or chewing on the fence.


Pressure-treated boards are nailed or screwed to pressure-treated posts.

  • Classic appearance
  • Strong & durable
  • Customizable to animals being contained
  • Low likelihood of damage to livestock hides
  • Low likelihood of entanglement
  • Long-lasting
  • Easy to install

Can be difficult to contain or exclude small animals.


Cattle, Horses (When Poly Coat Or Horse Rail)

High-tensile wire is manufactured for enhanced strength and elasticity, and is a good choice for fences that will be heavily tested by larger livestock. High-tensile wire will stretch when run into by an animal, safely slowing the animal down without damaging the fence. The number of wires used for high-tensile wire fencing depends on the animals being contained. Adding electric fencing enhances the performance of high-tensile wire fences.

In high-tensile wire fences single, smooth wires are held in tension between pressure-treated wood posts. Tension in the wire is maintained by permanent in-line stretchers and tension springs. Wires should be re-tensioned at least once a year.

Poly Coat Fence

A high-tensile wire fence that has a white coating on the wire to provide more visibility. Poly coat fences can also utilize electric fencing to discourage animals from pushing against the fence.

Horse Rail Fences

use high-tensile wire fencing as the foundation. These fences use vinyl panels that encase high-tensile wires, giving the appearance of a board rail. They are highly visible so animals can clearly see their boundaries.


High-tensile wire is stapled to pressure-treated wood posts, then in-line strainers are used to place the needed tension on the wire.

  • Strong & durable
  • Customizable to animals being contained
  • Causes minimum damage to livestock hides
  • Will not contain or exclude small animals
  • Can be less visible to livestock
  • Installation requires special equipment and skills
  • Requires regular tightening to maintain proper tension



Barbed wire is steel fencing wire constructed with sharp edges (“barbs”) arranged at intervals along the strands. Popular for agricultural fencing in the past, barbed wire played a vital role in the development of the plains of the United States, where it was used both to keep cattle within—and out of—areas. It is less popular today for creating livestock enclosures, but is still used to protect property and around jails and prisons to prevent inmate escape.


Barbed wire is attached to span tautly between pressure-treated wood posts. Suspension barbed wire fences are designed so the barbed wire sways back and forth in the wind or when animals hit it. This movement helps keep animals away from the fence and discourages them from fighting through it.

  • Cheap
  • Easy to install
  • Less visible to livestock
  • Can injure animals and humans
  • Risk of entanglement


Cattle, Horses, Sheep, Goats, Hogs, Alpaca

Woven wire fences use horizontal and vertical wires connected to form a grid. These fences are very useful in both containing animals, as well protecting livestock from predatory animals. High-tensile or non-high-tensile woven wire is available.


Wire mesh is stapled to pressure-treated wood posts (LINK: PRODUCTS PAGE). Spacing of the supporting posts is dependent on the size of the wire’s grid. High-tensile mesh requires special installation to apply tension to the mesh.

  • Versatile: keeps both large and small animals contained or excluded
  • Strong and durable
  • Causes minimum damage to livestock hides
  • Low likelihood of entanglement
  • Less visible to livestock


All Livestock

Used alone or in conjunction with wood or wire fencing, electric fencing is very effective in both securely corralling livestock, but also can add to the longevity of your fence by discouraging animals from chewing on or leaning against it. Livestock will require training when first using electric fences. When an animal touches the wire, it gets an unpleasant jolt. The charge is powerful but short; enough to get the animal’s attention without causing injury. This creates a psychological force that makes animals think escape is either too formidable or impossible. Animals quickly learn to not make contact with the fence.

An electric fence controller is used to energize the wires and must be operated full time, especially with cattle and sheep. It’s vital that electric fences be inspected and that vegetation be controlled in order to minimize short circuiting. For this reason, an electric fence may not be a good choice near wooded or swampy areas with heavy vegetative growth.


Electric fencing wire can be added to existing wood or wire fencing, or incorporated into plans for new fencing installations. Electric fence systems include a charger that dispenses a high-voltage, low-amperage current; a conductive wire material to carry that current; and ground rods sunk in the soil to complete a circuit. Modern controllers have the capacity to power long distances of fences.

  • Deters animals from leaning against fences
  • Low initial cost
  • Inexpensive to operate
  • May not contain or exclude small animals
  • Failure of system can lead to animal escape
  • When used alone, not highly visible to livestock

Agricultural fencing impacts the day-to-day operations of farms—both positively and negatively. Whether constructed to confine animals, define the boundaries of your property, or simply add elegant and rustic beauty, fences are an investment that must be carefully planned to maximize efficiency, and then constructed of the right high-quality materials in order that they provide many years of service with minimum repairs. Poorly constructed fences not only reflect badly on your operations, they are a hazard and a leading cause of injury to horses and livestock.

With good planning, you can install a fence strong enough to contain your livestock, resilient enough to avoid harm to them if they charge, and also deter animals from attempting to escape in the first place.

High quality pressure-treated fencing materials, properly installed and maintained, offer protection that’s unmatched by other kinds of wood, and will provide the strength and integrity an agricultural fence requires—and perform superbly for many years.

There are many resources available that provide information for planning an agricultural fence, from online articles to county extension offices. Some fence installations can be do-it-yourself projects for those owners who have the time, skills and equipment. For larger projects or when DIY isn’t a practical option, fence contractors can get the job done for you. Plus, you will have the opportunity to add flair and personality to the project.

Contact us today! Meadow Ridge Supply can provide the top-of-the-line pressure-treated pine lumber you need to add the right fencing to your property.

Our expert wood fencing representatives can answer your questions and help you choose the right products to meet your needs.

Phone: 989-750-0750