Best Fencing For Sheep And Other Critters

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Apart from the land, fencing will be one of the biggest capital expenses for your sheep farm. Whether it is permanent or temporary fencing, it can keep your sheep safe from predators, which will cover the investment you put into quality fencing.

Fence Laws and Regulations

No matter which state you live in, you’re going to run into specific laws and regulations for your city, or county. Most areas state that it is the livestock owner’s responsibility to provide adequate fencing. For a more exact specific law, you will find that “fence laws” carry the most accurate information. That would be the best place to start your research if you are worried about breaking a specific law. Here you will find information on allowed fence types, the responsibility of animals, and much more. The most common prohibited type of fence you will find is going to be fenced areas that have barbed wire. They may require specific heights to be met or may not be allowed at all.

Making Plans For Your Protective Fencing

Assuming you don’t have any type of fence already in place, this will be the best place to start your research. There are usually two types of fencing used in sheep farms – one around the total perimeter and a few interior ones. The perimeter fence is installed around the grazing area for the sheep and keeps predators away. These are intended to be used for long periods of time and are made of high-quality materials. These also tend to have barbed wires and electric offset wires for added protection. Interior fences are used to subdivide the farm into many different small areas and give your farming area an additional level of division. These can be made of temporary, permanent, or semi-permanent fencing types. Even though these are not meant to deter predators, they should be strong enough to keep the weaned lambs away from dams.

Creating a Rough Sketch

Depending upon the size of your farm you may want to draw a rough sketch. If possible take close measurements. This will be necessary once you’re ready to order materials. If you do this work beforehand you will be much better off and have a reference guide to look back to when making a materials list and build your fencing. We know this will be a tedious task but trust us when we said it’s well worth the planning time.

Here are some basic items to include in your sketch:

  • Paddock Design
  • Fence lines
  • Gate Placement
  • Fence Post Spacing
  • Water Sources
  • Feeding Areas
  • Potential Breach Areas

Paddock Design

In this particular article, we will not go into too much detail as this article is specific to sheep. However, Paddock design is going to be a very important step to improving your livestock management. There are many benefits to creating an ideal subdivision of your interior fence area. Having many subdivisions will improve grassland areas, and increase your herd health. One other thing to remember when designing your Paddock areas is that a square is always going to be a more efficient design than something like an oblong or triangle shape.

Fence Post Guideline

  • Always bury your posts at least 1/3 and are leveled vertically.
  • Recommend 8-12 feet apart but can vary depending upon the land.
  • Always use concrete to secure your posts.
  • When using T posts be sure to secure them with PVC to prevent implement and injury to your sheep.
  • Wood posts should always be treated with a preservative before installing into the ground.

Fence Post Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do Select Pretreated Wood. Absolute most important step!!
  • Don’t Make the posthole too small. We’ve all done it. Just give yourself enough room to work with or it will cause more work later.
  • Do Use gravel as your base layer. This allows moisture to escape below the posts away from the wood.
  • Don’t Mix more rapid setting concrete than you can use to prevent waste.
  • Do Seal the top of each post where it meets the concrete to prevent moisture from entering this area.
  • Do-Follow prior suggestions to check with local laws and regulations

You can find a more in-depth writeup on the Do’s and Don’ts here

Wire Spacing Guideline

For a 5 wire fence, wire spacing should be at 32 feet intervals and wire heights should be at 6 inches, 12 inches, 18 inches, 25 inches, and 35 inches above ground level. You will also need to choose whether you want the fence posts to be sturdy to stand up to large predators. Each type of fence will require different posts or have multiple post options and it will be good to keep these things in mind when making your choice. 

Remember that fence takes money and time to build. It is important to pick the right materials and type of fence then have them installed correctly the first time. It will ensure your peace of mind knowing your sheep are safe even when you are not there. Some of the most common types of fencing suitable for sheep are welded wires, high tensile electric fencing, plastic mesh fencing, electric poly rope fencing, and many traditional options such as wooden fence panels, steel panels, tubular metal gates, and others.

Here is an overview of some of the best fencing for sheep to help you pick one that is right for your farm and situation.

Welded Wire Fencing

Welded Wire FencingUses

One of the strongest and sturdiest choices for fencing is welded wire fencing. These come in large rolls of wire that are attached to one side post and later hauled along all fence posts using a tractor or a stretcher. For added safety and to keep predators away, strips of barbed wires are attached to the top and/or bottom of each post. When constructed properly, these can easily last for about 15 years without any maintenance.

Potential Disadvantages

Even though welded wire fencing is long-lasting. It may take a long time to build and will need at least two people to install if you are using a tractor to move the welded wire roll from one post to another. If they break because of an accident or a tree branch falling on them, it can take a long time to repair. You’re also going to find that some areas will have weld issues and some of the wires may need to be repaired at times. This is not always ideal for everyone.

Factors to Consider

When constructing welded wire for sheep, you need to take into account the fence’s height. If the fencing is along a slope, you will need a high fence that will deter predators and even dogs from chasing your flock. Sometimes the ground you are running the fence through is uneven, you might have trouble pulling the wire tight parallel to the ground. Leaving space between the ground and the wire may provide entry or exit points for predators. If you live in an area that receives heavy snowfall. If the fence is located along the side of a road, pushing heavy snow to the sides of the welded wire fencing will cause sagging. You might have to re-stretch or tighten the roadside runs once the winters are over.

When it comes to options, a Welded Wire Fence is going to leave your brain hurting. There are so many different styles, heights, hole options.. enough to make you crazy. What we have done in the past is build your basic fence first using our recommendations and that should be sufficient for 95% of users. You can get carried away with all the different fence options that can either be swapped out at a later date or added on. Check out the list below and that should be a good start.

Get Started With The Following Products

High Tensile Electric Fencing

High Tensile WireUses

High tensile electric fencing are highly sturdy that provide a strong charge to contain the sheep inside the perimeter and even deter predators. These fences are made of galvanized steel, and every run will contain one tensioner that makes it easy to tighten. Eventually months down the road they will begin to sag. Generally, these fences are installed with 5-7 parallel strands. The threat from predators, and your budget will determine the number of lanes. One of the main advantages of such fencing is that when installed around a big pasture, you can divide the pasture into small areas to make it easy for grazing and also enhances the pasture’s quality.

Potential Disadvantages

This fencing type does not come cheap, but they are perfect for those looking for a long-term investment in sheep rearing. This type of fencing is quite hard and laborious to build, but they require little to no maintenance and can last for many years.

Factors to Consider

High tensile electric fencing is designed for large areas and is best for large areas of grasslands. Installing these in smaller areas will only push the cost high. Thus, purchase this kind of fence only when you are sure you want to maintain your flock for at least a decade.

Get Started With The Following Products

The above products will get you started and are exactly what we use when building out a Tensile Wire Fence. You might think it’s crazy to order Tposts online instead of picking them up yourself at your local Big Box store. We use to think this same way. But when factoring in our time, and effort to load and unload these posts (especially when buying in bulk the savings was just not there.) You may save $5 or so bucks on 10 posts. Now we use this time when we would be picking up these items locally to do our post digging and preparation.

Plastic Mesh Fencing for Sheep 

Plastic Mesh FencingUses

Plastic mesh fencing is perfect for temporary paddocks or rotational grazing for a small sheep flock. This cost-effective and lightweight fencing is clearly visible to the sheep and the predators. These fence uses plastic stakes and can easily be put on different soil types with ease. They are very easy to build and can be removed as and when the need arises.

Potential Disadvantages

The plastic mesh is soft and can easily get tangled when stored, and it will need a lot of time to completely untangle when you need to use them. Despite this disadvantage, this kind of fencing is highly durable and can easily last for years when maintained properly.

Factors to Consider

Plastic mesh fencing comes in a variety of different styles and colors. When ordering mesh fencing, consider the fence’s height you want to build. It is particularly important if you live in a high predator area. Each height has its advantage, and it would be wise to buy one roll of both kinds to check which one would be ideal for your sheep farm. Remember that plastic mesh fencing is a TEMPORARY solution and we do not recommend this type of fence for any long-term use. This type of fence is perfect for interior Paddocks that will be moving quite often. This fence style is easy to set up and take down which makes it perfect for temporary use.

Get Started With The Following Products

Electric Poly Rope Sheep Fencing

Poly Wire FencingUses

For people looking for a more cost-effective option for electric perimeter fencing, poly rope fencing is the best choice. Many people use this kind of fencing to divide their pasture for better pasture management. Electric poly rope fencing isn’t very sturdy or more durable than other fencing types. They are still popular because of their low price and easy usage. This is one of the best options for any fencing needs and eventually becomes a psychological barrier rather than a physical one, at least for the smarter sheep!

Potential Disadvantages

The main disadvantage of electric poly rope sheep fencing is that they are not long-lasting. But during its usage, they are quite effective and cheap enough to be bought again if you need them every couple of years.

Get Started With The Following Products

We have tried quite a few different brands when it comes to Electric Poly Rope and they are all pretty close to the same product. It mostly will come down to which animals you plan to keep confined. Baygard Electric Poly Rope is a great product that will be sufficient enough for sheep, goats, and other like-size animals. You’re also going to need connectors so make sure to pick up a few packs. These Field Guardians are the ones that we recommend and have had better success with. The biggest problem your face with your electric fence is your connectors failing so make sure you use a quality product.

Powering Your Electric Fence

The next step to getting your electric fence up and running is going to be of course how your plan to power it. If solar is your thing and you have an abundance of sun available this Solar power fence charger is a great way to power your fence without having to worry about running electrical. It lasts up to 2 weeks without sun and powers over 5 miles of fencing. We have found this solar product to be high quality, very reliable, and convenient too. One recommendation for this product is to make sure you have good ground as we have seen issues with the charger not working correctly without one.

Non-Solar Powered Fence Charger

When it comes to a Non-solar option you will have a much larger group of products to choose from. You’re also going to find that a hardwired fence charger will have a larger fence length that can be powered. When you hook a charger into the grid it will receive a lot more consistent power. Here are our 2 favorite Fence charger options that we have had experience with or know others who have had a great experience with.

  1. Zareba 5 Mile Battery Powered Electric Fence Charger

  2. Patriot PE2 Electric Fence Energizer

Both of these options are perfect and you won’t regret your purchase with either of these models.

Other Fence Options

All the above fencing options are for large spaces. Areas around your shed or barn need traditional sheep fencing options. These can be wooden panels, steel or aluminum panels, or even tubular metal gates. These are the perfect choice to fence small sections to hold pens or create paddocks. This will make it easy to move them around for cleaning.

Using the information above, it is important to do your due diligence when picking the best fencing for sheep. The ease of installation, an area that needs to be fenced in, and your budget are some factors you need to consider when making your fence choice.t

If you happen to be looking for more fencing options you can check out our goat fence article that is very lengthy and detailed. There are many electrical fence options to get you started. You may find exactly what you’re looking for over there.

Ongoing fence maintenance

An important step to keep your fenceline both healthy and secure is to make sure to set up a fence maintenance plan. We recommend checking posts, wire, and any potential flaws that present themself during your routine inspection. A weekly walk around the perimeter should be sufficient enough and shouldn’t take much time. Be sure to check all posts at the intersection of the ground or concrete. Make sure you don’t see any rotting, moisture, or damage. Posts will be one of the first places your fence will become vulnerable.

Tips for increasing the security of your fencing area

Security Cameras

This is a pretty obvious solution but you would be surprised at how many people decide to opt-out of a security system because they are afraid of the technical aspect of it. With today’s high-range wifi routers, it has become a much easier task to have all your devices (including cameras) connected to your home network. We are a huge fan of the Google Assistant products so we typically will use these outdoor Nest cameras for outdoor coverage.

Add More Lighting

Giving your fencing area enough light will give you few benefits. Your surveillance cameras will capture a more clear picture with better lighting and it will also deter predators if a light turns on and usually does a great job at scaring them off. For a hassle-free solar light installation, we recommend these lights that provide a small amount of lighting but do a good job at deterring predators. If you want something that has a smaller form factor solar light then these are a better choice.

If you have more time to run electrical for your lighting. We use these around our fence perimeter and have great success. Amico 3 Head LED Security Lights

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