Livestock Fencing: Till the Cows Come Home
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Choosing the right kind of fencing for your livestock can impact animal safety, farm efficiency and the overall look of your homestead. Obviously, farm and ranch sizes vary as well as the type(s) of livestock that need be penned. There are numerous aspects to consider when choosing the style of fencing that fit your needs. So, it’s time to get a corral.
Of course, the species of animal that is to be corralled plays the most significant part in the fencing choice. You must look at the number of animals being confined, what activity will be performed in that area and for what length of time. Some species may be penned together if there is no antagonistic behaviour between them. However, if there are any issues, the species should be separated – at least the animals that are causing friction.
Calculate the space required for your animals, depending on the species you have. Horses and cattle need much more room for shelter and pasture than goats, sheep and alpacas. Swine need about half of what horses require, but double what goats and sheep need. Llamas require slightly more than pigs; yet, Buffalos need about the same shelter space as cattle, but three times the corral pasture area.
Function and form are key factors in choosing the shape and materials for your corral. The form includes the shape, rigidity, construction and height, as well as the number of gates and position of the pen to barns, lanes, and water sources.
The design for the corral is based on how effective it will function for the tasks required. It should be as simple as possible while allowing easy movement for the animals, including access to feed and water. Gates and laneways should not only allow ease of access for the livestock, but also for farm equipment and staff. Pens should be made of materials that fit the animals’ characteristics. The height must ensure that the animal cannot jump or climb over it. Is there a possibility that any of your livestock can dig or tunnel under it? Are the supports or posts strong enough to stand up to a large animal leaning it? Does the material have enough give to avoid injury but enough strength to keep the animals penned? It needs to be in a location where the footing is as stable as possible, regardless of the season. Areas should be well lit, whether that is a natural incident or with lighting erected.
Budget is always a consideration, regardless of the project. Build the best corral that you can afford. It is an investment in your livelihood. There are times when Temporary fencing might be the best option, especially when still in the design stage. Having the opportunity to move the structure to find out what works best can be a real benefit. This can provide time to save up if necessary, as well as the opportunity to make the best choice before erecting permanent structures.
There are a variety of materials that are appropriate to use for corrals. Choosing the right components for your livestock can have a direct impact on the overall health and safety of your animals. They need to be kept in while predators need to e kept out. Some types of fencing that work well with livestock include:
- Rail fence is a popular choice for farm border fences ideal for cattle and horses.
- Barbed wire fences work well for cattle and pigs.
- Woven wire fences are smooth and come in varying heights, which are appropriate for horses and cattle.
- Mesh wire fences are durable and provide safety for livestock, including goats.
- High tensile fences are very popular since it is easy to construct, costs less to build and requires minimum maintenance. It can be used with electricity to aid in predator control.
- Cable fences are often used for confinement areas like holding pens and corrals.
- Wooden fences are more popular form small pastures and paddocks.
- Electric fences are actually used a lot since they can keep livestock safe and keep predators away. This type of fencing is suitable for cattle, sheep, horses, swine and goats.
There are numerous considerations to address when planning to build fencing for your livestock. Take the time needed to choose wisely, even if that means using temporary fencing during the design stage. When all is said and done, and you have the right enclosure(s) for your livestock, you will move forward knowing you have done the best to keep your animals safe and healthy.