What Fence Is Best For Livestock?

If you’re looking to get into the business of raising livestock – whether it’s a herd of cattle or, more likely to begin with, a handful of chickens – you’ll need to ensure that they’re appropriately restricted to a given area. To do this, you’ll need to secure the appropriate fencing. But fencing for agriculture isn’t as straightforward as it might sound, as you’ll need to account for the behaviour of the animals. If the fence collapses the moment that it’s leant on, or can be felled by a stray gust of wind, then it’ll offer more danger than protection to the animals that it’s supposed to shelter. Let’s take a look at what goes into a good fence for livestock.


The straining posts are perhaps the most important part of any wire fence. They’re so-called because they bear the load of the wires after they’ve been pulled taut. As such, they need to be buried deep into the ground. Posts of this sort come in two different varieties – peeled and treated. A peeled post is literally a timber post that’s had its bark peeled away. They come in a range of diameters, with the fattest typically being 100mm wide. Treated posts have been made more-or-less perfectly round using a machine. They might look better, but they offer no appreciable utility over their more rugged-looking counterparts.

The straining posts are those which occur at any change of direction. Between them you might find intermediate posts, whose role involves simply holding the wires up from the ground rather than taking on any real strain. As you might imagine, it’s exceptionally tricky to drive a post of this diameter into the soil simply by hand. Instead, a machine is usually called for, either to ram the post home mechanically or to dig a hole in the area where the post should be and then filling in the sides.


As well as vertical pieces of wood called posts, we also have the occasional horizontal one called a strut. The role of these devices is to prevent the straining post from being pulled gradually to one side by the wires. A horizontal strut of this sort placed between two posts forms a structure called a ‘box strainer’. More commonly, one can place a diagonal piece of timber at the base of a post in order to prevent it from being dragged into the ground.

Types of soil

Certain sorts of ground offer better purchase for fencing posts. If you’re trying to drive a post into wet soil, it might therefore be worth filling the hole with boulders, rocks and gravel rather than more wet soil.


As time goes by, the wires of a fence will slowly lose their tension and begin to sag. It’s important, therefore, to occasionally re-install the wires at the appropriate tension. In doing this, you’ll want to be sure that your fence is installed in such a way that removing and re-tensioning is easy.

For this reason, excessive use of staples to secure the wire to the posts is inadvisable. Fit tensioning devices that allow the wire to be easily removed, or for the tension to be adjusted without removing the wire at all.

The top wire

Of all of the wires in your fence, it’s the topmost one that’ll need to absorb the greatest strain. This is especially so if you’re looking after large animals like horses who might lean over the top of the fence. It’s worth using a heavier gauge of wire on this topmost rung, and to provide it with a little more slack. The principle of leverage mean that a tense wire at this height will exert more force than a slack one, which will result either in either a snapped wire or a post that’s been yanked out of position.

What about slopes?

When we’re driving posts into the ground, the clamping pressure of the soil around the posts will play a much bigger role than gravity. In the case of a sloped surface, then, it’s better to install the posts at right-angles to the ground rather than facing directly upward.

This however, is problematic for a few reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t look great. And secondly, it might prove impractical to dig a sufficiently deep hole at such an angle. If the fence is gradually sloping, the this might also produce problems with straining that are difficult to calculate and solve.

Where can I buy fencing supplies?

Richard Williams are among the foremost providers of fencing supplies in North Wales. They ‘re a builder’s merchant in North Wales who provide products that suit not just those looking for wire fencing, but for other sorts of building materials, too.