Friday, November 1, 2013

High tensile fences

So in the last 10 years i've put up field fence, barbed wire fence, panel fence and board fence.   I'll add high tensile fence to that list.  You'll find a complete cost breakdown at the end of this post. 

First, if I were to pick a type of fence to use as a perimeter fence around large (> 10 acre) parcels, I'd probably pick high tensile fence or barbed wire, and I'd do that based on durability and cost per foot.  

If I were to pick between barbed wire and high tensile, I'd probably choose high tensile; based because it's easier to put up.  Fencing is heavy, hard work but fencing with high tensile is easier than fencing with barbed wire; I've done both.    High tensile is easier to string because you can leave the spool on one end and draw the smooth wire to the far end.  With barbed wire it catches on everything so you have to carry the spool of wire to the far end, and that truly does suck.  

High tensile fence -- nearly invisible.  
The cost of the fence is mostly the cost of the braces.  For a properly tensioned fence, you'll need double H braces sunk at least 3' into the ground, with diagonal support.  The picture below shows a typical brace that I constructed out of railroad ties.  The railroad ties are 8' long 6x8 timbers and are buried 3' into the ground.  The crossbars are 6x6 timbers.  The diagonal wire is 12.5 gauge barbless barbed wire, and this particular fence is 8 strands of high tensile wire with the 3rd and 7th wires electrified.  The 3rd wire is to exclude coyotes and keep pigs in, the 7th wire is for cattle.  You can see the black insulators on the post on the right side of the picture.
Double H brace for high tensile fence
For gate openings you have to do a brace on each side.  The picture below shows a 12' gate opening.  The brace on the right is for a 1300' span, the brace on the left is for a 500' span.  I haven't mounted the gate yet, but you can see the opening.  I chose to run all of the wires from this central point so that I only had to move the supplies to one area for both spans.
Gate opening for high tensile fence
I was replacing generations of fencing; the apple tree in the photo below gives you an idea of what it looked like before.  the problem with this sort of fence is that it's very hard to tell if it's animal proof, and it's pretty hard to maintain.  Good perimeter fences are a way to make sure that you sleep better.
Apple tree with random fencing attempts vs....
One thing that I've found with fencing is that preparing the fenceline prior to construction is the best thing to do.  In my case I left any tree that was bigger than my wrist, but cleared small bushes and blackberries along the fenceline.  I determined the fenceline via a survey I comissioned, and I suggest that anyone who buys acreage get their property surveyed as part of their purchase.  It would be terrible to put a fence up in the wrong place and then have to move it.  It's enough work to put it up once!
High tensile fence replacement
The field posts I used were a mix of railroad ties that I found on my property and recycled and 6x6 posts that I purchased.  This is intended to be a permanent perimeter fence; pressure treated posts, galvanized hardware, everything built bigger and heavier than it needs to be so that it lasts.
Posts are placed where the ground rises or falls
This is the end brace for a 1300' section of high tensile fence.  
This is the river end of the fence; I chose to put the brace 30' from the river bank because the bank is eroding; in the next 10 or 15 years the big maple tree that you see to the left in the photo may fall into the river; or it may not.  So I put my brace back, and I'll extend the fence to the river with posts and cattle panels.  If the bank washes away the cattle panels will just hang out into space, which is fine.  

Here's the cost of the fence:  
1800' run, 4 double H braces, 16 field posts, 3 12' gates

14400' of 12.5 gauge high tensile wire @ $0.03/foot,$432
36 6x6 posts or equivalent @$22/each, $792
1 spool 12.5 gauge barbless barbed wire, $60
bucket of fence staples $36
Insulators $8
Tension springs, 16 at $7.50 each, $120
Tension ratchets 16 at $3.99 each, $64
7 man-days clearing fence line @ 150/day $1050.
6 man-days building braces, running wire, setting posts, $900
3 heavy duty galvanized 12' gates, $165 each, $495
1 25 mile solar fence energizer, $280

Total fence cost $4237, or 2.35/foot everything included.  Materials only cost of $2287, or $1.27/foot



1 comment:

solagratiasnohomish said...

I sure wish we could go this route. But it'll have to be cattle panels all the way for us, it's the only thing that works with our rolling terrain and building layout. We considered the approach you're outlining, but it wouldn't work for our 5 acres, which is too bad, it would sure be nice to save the money!

So many different considerations for fencing well enough to sleep at night.