Plastic or metal step-in-posts are the most common line post used with the poly-products. Some
people use metal re-bar or fiberglass rod posts with poly-products but each has their limitations.
The weight of re-bar and the need for insulators limit the efficiency of re-bar posts. The fiberrod
posts are useful as long as soil conditions allow the posts to be easily pushed into the ground by
hand. When the soil is hard, either from freezing or drought, the posts must be hammered. To
prevent the fiberglass from splintering, a driving cap must be used. Beating a post with a driving
cap on it with a hammer does not lend itself to easy fencing.
Numerous models of step-in-posts are available with a wide range in appearances and
characteristics. Over the years we have identified five characteristics that make a step-in post
useful. These are 1) durability and long term flexibility, 2) a smaller diameter spike that will
penetrate hard or frozen ground relatively easily, 3) a big enough step you can actually get your
foot on, 4) enough wire clips to allow some flexibility in wire height or spacing, and 5) easy to
get the conductor on and off without handling the wire.
We have only found one post that meets all these criteria and that is the O’Brien Treadline post.
We have been using this post for over 20 years and have found nothing else that begins to compare
with it. Many post become brittle under either or both intense sunlight or extreme cold conditions.
With year-around use, we lose 3-5% of the posts annually due to breakage at our Idaho location.
This is in high UV conditions due altitude, many days of sub-zero temperatures, rocky soil, and
high wildlife pressure. In the softer Missouri environment, the posts were even more durable.
The 3/16" diameter spike on the O’Brien post is much easier to get into hard ground than the
3/8" spike on most other posts. The spikes are flat tipped as they come form the factory. Running
them by the bench grinder to put a little point on them makes them work even better in challenging
ground conditions. The step will accommodate all but the largest feet for applying firm pressure to
get them in the ground. There are eight polywire/tape clips on one side of the post and four super-
wide tape clips on the opposite side. The bent L-shaped clips make the posts easy to attach and
remove poly-products without having to handle the conductor. This means the post can be used with
the power on saving much time when putting fences up and down.
Using portable fence in winter conditions to graze stockpiled pastures or budget out hay feeding
may require some special considerations in certain environments. If high moisture soil is frozen,
no step-in-post goes easily into the ground. If the step is sufficiently broad and the spike
sufficiently narrow, a gentle rocking motion of the foot applied with downward pressure will
usually get the post into the ground sufficient depth to hold the fence. If the fence makes a
corner, the post may not get deep enough in frozen ground to hold. Post anchors for use on top of
frozen ground can be made from 2-inch thick concrete circles with a tube in the center to hold the
post spike as corner assemblies. The circles are made slicing 5 gallon plastic buckets into 2-inch
wide rings and using these rings as a concrete mini-form. A piece of rubber or plastic tubing with
an inside diameter slightly larger than the post spike is placed in the center while the concrete
is still wet. A handle can be put in the top side using almost anything. Some people have used a 12
inch square piece of 3-inch bridge plank for corner anchors with a center hole drilled to
accommodate the post spike. The imagination is the only limit to using portable
fence in the winter.