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Friday, 24 October 2008 06:15

So you want to build a fence? What kind?

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by Shaun Murray

When fencing, various materials and methods can be combined to provide a suitable fence for any situation.

There are several types of stock fences commonly used in New Zealand,

  • 7-9 Wire post and batten fence
  • Multi-wire electric fence
  • Sheep netting
  • Deer netting
  • Post and Rail
  • Temporary and semi-permanent
7-9 Wire post and batten 

Used commonly for boundary fencing and as a general all purpose fence. It is strong, durable, and secure. Posts are usually 4 metres apart, and 5 battens are spaced evenly between the posts. Although one of the most expensive and labour intensive fences, it will contain sheep, cattle and horses adequately in most cases.

Multi-wire electric 

Depending on the type of stock being contained, different number of wires can be used, which are then electrified. Posts are spaced further apart, sometimes up to eight or ten metres between posts. A wide range of both wooden and steel posts can be used, which we will cover in subsequent articles.

Electric fences create a mental barrier to stock. The shock that they get from the fence acts as a deterrent in future escape efforts. This is opposed to the post and batten fence which simply provides a physical barrier.

Because electric fences require fewer materials, they are usually cheaper, easier and faster to erect, however security and longevity can be sacrificed.

Outriggers – An ‘outrigger’ is an electric wire which is offset from the main fence and can be added to any existing fence. This stops stock from leaning or rubbing against the fence, and prolongs the life of the fence for minimal cost.

Sheep netting

Sheep netting is wire netting, about a metre high, with wooden posts. It is ideal for sheep, and other small or young stock such as calves. It is also adequate for large stock when one or more outriggers are added to either the top or side of the netting.

Deer fencing operates on exactly the same principles as sheep netting, except on a larger scale.

Post and rail

Used commonly with horses as it is highly visible. Spooked horses have been severely injured after running through wire fences, particularly fences using high tensile wire. Most horses are kept within wire fences however, so it comes down to a personal choice.

Post and rail fencing is also used around houses and driveways as it is aesthetically pleasing. Posts are usually two metres apart, with between three and four wooden rails. It can be difficult to get it looking straight and level without a high level of expertise. Post and rail fences are very secure with larger animals, especially when accompanied with an electric wire to prevent stock rubbing. It has a high cost per metre when compared to other fences.

Temporary and semi-permanent fences
  • Semi-permanent – There are a wide range of materials available, such as electric tape and poly-wires, varying in different sizes and thicknesses. As well there is a range of semi-permanent type steel posts, such as Warratahs and Kiwitahs. Often used on lease blocks, or as a quick fix option. This type of fence is very cheap and easy to build. The disadvantages are the deterioration of the fence over a few years, and these fences require more regular maintenance.
  • Temporary – Electric plastic tape usually wound up on a hand held reel. It is used mainly for cattle and horses to sub-divide an existing paddock, usually on a day by day basis. It uses ‘electric fence standards’ which are light weight and about a metre in height. They have a steel peg at the bottom which you press into the ground with your foot and a loop to hold the electric tape at the top. They are put up, and taken down, at the pace at which you can walk. They are the least secure of any type of fence and require a good electric current and stock which are trained with electric fences.

If unsure of the best type of fence for your situation, speak to other people and find out what works for them and what doesn’t, have a look at other properties and think about your budget. Over the long term, it can be more profitable to invest in good quality fences from the start.