Tips on Stock Fencing

A blog entry for fellow smallholders…

Here at Penybanc we have (or had) essentially NO ‘proper’ fencing. By that I mean anything more effectual and less dangerous than a couple of loose strands of rusting barbed wire. As we hope to keep some larger livestock soon (more on that later!) there is a fairly urgent need to get at least one of the paddocks stock fenced.

This blog is a very brief summary of some things that I’ve learnt about putting up stock fencing. You can, of course, get a contractor in with big pile drivers and post bangers… but that’s not really our style!

I won’t repeat the other and more knowledgeable articles and books on how to stock fence, but what I will say is read lots of them, or ask someone that knows – it’s not as simple as it may seem!

Here are some key points that you might not read elsewhere:

– If you’re scared of hard physical work, don’t try this. It’s pretty tiring, but FUN!

– It sounds obvious, but don’t try and fence when the ground is rock hard. It’s difficult enough as it is…

– We ended up using high-tensile netting and barbed wire, which, although slightly more expensive, can be tensioned to a greater extent and will last longer. It is also slightly more difficult to handle as it is stiffer and recoils with some force.

– Tensioning the fence against its strainers is the key to a good looking, long lasting and functional fence. There are a few different ways of straining the fence, all of which require different bits of kit. We used a combination of two methods. Firstly we took up the majority of the tension by attaching a home made gripping bar to the netting and then to the back of the land rover. We then pulled slowly away until the fence became taut and we could fix it to the strainer. Before this point we had introduced ‘gripples’ into each horizontal strand of netting and now we returned to these and used the gripple tensioning tool to apply further tension, up to the desired level. This has the added advantage that we can go back at a later date and apply more tension if necessary.

– Buy well-treated posts. If anything is going to give up in a few years (especially in damp Wales) then it’s likely to be the fence posts. Make sure that they have been well treated so that they will last (we opted for Jacksons that come with a 25 year general rot protection guarantee).

– Buy a hole-digger tool thingy (like this). The one thing you can’t skimp on is how deep you bury the strainers and gate posts and to dig deep holes, you’ll need more than just a spade. You can get auger-type ones but I can’t vouch for how well they work.

If you’ve got any questions on this fire me an email and I’ll do my best to help.


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