Good fencing protects and confines valuable livestock by presenting barriers to restrict animal movement. Barriers may be physical, psychological, or a combination of both. Physical barriers consist of enough materials of sufficient strength to prevent or discourage animals from going over, under, or through the fence. Psychological barriers depend upon inflicting pain to discourage animals from challenging a physical barrier of inferior strength.
Traditional livestock fencing materials have included barbed, woven, mesh, and electrified wire, and combinations of these materials. Board fences have also been popular. These conventional materials are still widely used and make excellent fences if properly constructed. However, new materials such as high tensile wire should also be considered when selecting fencing types.
The type of fencing needed for livestock confinement depends on several factors including animal species, age, breed, and production system. Beef cattle on a controlled grazing system have different fencing needs than horses on recreational pasture. Permanent boundary or division fences require different fencing materials than fences for temporary paddocks.
Fencing type and material influence the cost, lifespan, and function of the fencing system. This publication discusses the types of fencing and materials that are available for livestock systems and provides some guidelines on fencing material selection for various livestock types.