Fencing – How and Where for Small Farms

This field day was about the practical aspects of fencing. Andy Taylor and Shane Laverty from the Rural Landscapes Program, South East Local Land Services discussed the theory of fencing and led a fencing demonstration. Below are five key topics from the day.

Andy Taylor from South East Local Land Services suggesting ways to install a new strainer post
  1. There are some principles for fence design that usually apply. The best fence on the farm should be the boundary fence. When considering gate sizes choose larger gates that Rural Fire Service trucks can fit through – as a standard option choose 12′ (3.6m) wide gates if possible. If you have livestock, hang the gate on one side of the post so the gate can be opened flush with the fence when moving stock and the animals won’t get stuck between the gate and the fence. Gates located in corners usually work best – it is often difficult to get animals to go through a gate in the middle of a straight fence.
  2. The type of fence that you install should be influenced by considerations such type of stock, cost, understanding where the water runs, different soil types, land capability, vegetation and watering points. A property planning field day can help with planning the type and location of fences. In some cases electric fences (permanent or temporary) may be an option.

    Protective gloves and glasses for fencing
    Shane Laverty with protective gloves and safety glasses
  3. Effective personal protection equipment is vital when fencing. This includes gloves, eye protection and protective ear muffs if you are using noisy mechanical equipment (for example when banging in steel posts).
  4. There are many choices for fencing materials. Low tensile wire just keeps on stretching – medium tensile wire is a better option. Hinged joint fencing mesh comes in many sizes. The numbers in the hinged joint mesh name refer to the number of horizontal wires, fence height and distance between the vertical wires. For example, a 6/70/30 hinged joint mesh has 6 line wires, is 70cm high and the vertical wires are 30cm apart – this size suits smaller animals like sheep. A boundary fence might use 8/90/30. Hinged joint mesh has a top and bottom. The side with the smaller gaps is supposed to be closest to the ground. Usually you put plain wire through the steel posts (star pickets to the non farmer) lined up with the top, middle and bottom of the hinged joint mesh and attach the mesh to the wires using fencing clips. Two more wires will usually be run in the space above the mesh. To get the fence height right, bang the steel posts into the ground until the bottom hole is just above the ground.
  5. When repairing fences check the existing strainer posts, stays, steel posts and wire and see what can be salvaged. The most important part of the fence is the end assembly (strainer post and stay) and the most common type are steel. These can be galvanised or black steel and can be purchased as a complete kit.
Fence strainer post and stay with stay block
Strainer post and stay installed with a concrete stay block during the workshop

Resources

South East Local Land Services Rural Living Guide – a comprehensive guide for anyone on the land, lots of useful resources including tips on fencing

Fencing Ag Guide – A practical Guide – available from Tocal College for purchase, has detailed information on building a fence including ends, corners, the law and fencing and more. Costs $25.00 and can be purchased on line.

Land and Property Information website – information on boundary fencing and the law.

Search for online videos for demonstrations of the different knots used for tying fencing wire.

Tying knots in fencing wire

Commercial fencing guides – there are a range of materials online from the major fencing suppliers. Some of these pamphlets were handed out at the workshop. Here is a sample from Waratah Fencing, but you could also try Gallagher or Whites Group Fencing.

This event was made possible by funding supplied by the Australian Government and in kind support from South East Local Land Services. Thank you Mark and Rhonda who hosted the event on their farm and our sponsors the Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability.