Fencing Systems

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

Knowledge Nuggets

  • The goal of a grazing plan is to use available resources while providing the desired rest period for the plants. Land should be fenced to create paddocks that accommodate forage and land characteristics for uniform and sustainable grazing.
  • An effective grazing program requires adequate fencing to control the grazing animals. Temporary fencing is required to subdivide the pasture into paddocks.
  • Animals alter their grazing behavior depending on slope, soil and forage type where they will overgraze and undergraze in the same field. Fence placement with respect to slope and species differences is very important.
  • The land's slope and orientation greatly influence plant environment and forage growth. In spring, a southeast facing slope warms up sooner and has more growth. Although the south east facing slope is shaded late in the day, it has the advantage of continued warm temperature until evening. In summer, the southwest facing slope begins to dry out because of exposure to wind and heat and drops in production. The north facing slope stays darker and cooler.
  • Some land is eroded and should be grazed differently or is best fenced off completely to allow plants to reestablish their root systems.
  • Letting cattle drink directly from ponds and springs is not wise because of disease control and water pollution. Instead, a watering tank fed by the fenced pond or spring should be installed. Most popular, is a pipeline that provides water in every paddock to provide flexibility in paddock layout and for manure placement.
  • Existing permanent fences may fit very well for controlled grazing. However, the presence of an existing fence should not limit thinking in the planning stages. The best use of land resources should be considered first. Old fences can be enhanced with a single wire electric fence.
  • All fences used to develop a controlled grazing system need not be permanent. Temporary fences may sub-divide fields which may later be used for cropping.
  • Cattle may graze more effectively on certain forages according to season. For example, meadow foxtail is better used early in the spring and regrazed more frequently as opposed to other similar species.
  • Although livestock prefer shade, it is not necessary. Observation of cattle grazing indicates they graze longer in paddocks with no shade.
  • Use three maps to plan the paddock layout being an aerial photograph, a soil capability map, and a topographical map.
  • Gate placement is important because animals are moved frequently. The most flexible gate is within the line of a single wire fence where the wire is lifted up and the animals cross under the wire. Permanent gates should be in a corner of the paddock and should be located with ease of animal movement in mind.
  • Fencing systems must be tailored to each individual farm incorporating common principles. Design should be both functional and economical with the potential to pay back in 3 years or less and to add value to any farm.
Fact Sheets

Farm Fencing Systems

Fence Planning and Estimating Worksheet - available in PDF format only

Fencing Costs

Fencing Guidelines for Wildlife - available in PDF format only

Fencing Management - available in PDF format only; see page 45 of Pasture Production

Planning Fencing Systems for Controlled Grazing - also available in PDF format

Planning Fencing Systems for Intensive Grazing Management -available in PDF format only

3D Fencing: Keeping Wildlife Away - available in PDF format only

Wire fences for livestock management - available in PDF format only

Research Papers

Let us know of good research papers for this topic.
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This information published to the web on October 20, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on February 15, 2017.

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