Friday, October 22, 2010

Fencing with barbed wire

 I put up 600' of barbed wire fence today.  The ground that I'm fencing is pretty firm, firm enough that I can use my big tractor to unspool the barbed wire.  the picture above is the way I did it.  I take a length of solid bar stock (about $10 at a steel yard near you) and a couple of collars (pictured below) and suspended the spool off the 3 point hitch arms at the rear of the tractor.  With a bit of judicious driving -- slow and careful -- the wire unwinds nicely off the spool and you can run strands back and forth over your fenceline.  To deploy 5 strands of barbed wire over 600' of run takes about 20 minutes.  no big deal. 
what's important to do is to make sure that the wire unwinds off the spool without any kinks.  Kinks will break at a much lower tension than straight wire, and this will typically happen when you stretch the wire, but can happen if an animal runs into the fence or a tree falls on the fence.  Straight wire without kinks gives you the longest fence life and durability. 
To stretch the wire today I'm using the backhoe off of my smaller tractor.  i like stretching with the backhoe better than with the bucket because i can draw in 10' with the arm of the backhoe.  With the bucket I'm limited to the curl, which often means I need to back the tractor up during the process.  backhoe is easier -- but you do have to be careful about how tight  you stretch the wire.  You can break barbed wire pretty easily with the backhoe. 

for this stretch I'm using barbed wire because it's the cheapest to install per linear foot.  A 5 strand barbed wire fence with metal T posts every 20' will cost you about $1/foot for materials and take a day or so to install.  Here's the bill of materials for 500' of barbed wire fence: 

25 8' heavy t posts:  $7.50 each, $187.5
4 6x6x8' pressure treated posts (fence ends and brace), $20 each, $80.00
2 4x4x8' pressure treated posts, (diagonal brace) $6 each, $12
2 spools barbed wire, $82 each, $164
30' galvanized electric fence wire (used to tie barbed wire to posts)
12 80# sacks concrete, $3.50 each, $42
couple of spikes for braces, handful of fence staples. 
$485.5 materials

Day 1:  dig holes for end posts, cement and install braces, 3 man hours. 
Day 2:  String and attach wire, 5 man hours. 


Anonymous said...

Why are you putting up barb wire instead of high tentsil electric?
I find myself only using barb wire in the woods or if I'm too far from a power source.
High tentsil is a little more expensive but saves you time and money in the long run by not having to maintain it all the time like you do with barb wire.As long as it's hot, the animals will respect it.

Bruce King said...

The barbed wire fence is part of the settlement of the suits that snohomish county PDS and the Washington State Department of Ecology instigated against me a few years ago. We've reached an agreement in principle, and it involves a double fence; a fairly lightweight barbed wire fence around the proposed NGPA, and then an animal fence inside of that perimeter, with a planted buffer between the two fence lines. I don't want to spend a nickel more than I have to on the outer fence -- hence barbed wire. High tensile is one of the choices I've considered for the interior fence.

Anonymous said...

Can you talk more about the settlement? I have been waiting to hear how that turned out.

Bruce King said...

Yes, when it's finalized, I'll write it all up.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently struggling with a fencing strategy (new farm). Originally I was planning on a perimeter woven wire fence for an initial 2 - 2 1/2 acres (have a total of 40 acres), and that I made this decision based on a need to contain goats. I have since back-peddled on goats (now have a tractor, and soon a brush hog) for clearing blackberries. This area will end up housing winter sacrifice paddocks (better drained soils). But... I will be running some pigs, and, after a period of time chickens and sheep and or cattle. Seeing as I'll be having a wide mix of animals I still feel that woven wire is the only solution. Is there anyone here that could provide any input?

I'd pretty much focused on Stay Tuff goat fencing. No idea whether it's available around here or not, but I have run across it for a reasonable price ($0.60/ft): from!4774/1348-12-660+C3+660ST

I was going to go with wooden line posts spaced about 25' apart, with two t-posts between (or, wooden line posts at 50' with 4 t-posts between). I have yet to determine whether I need to use concrete.

Rough cost estimate is $1.21/ft. Gates not included. While this is high, I figure that the value is in flexibility: reduce predator pressure and, contain a wide variety of animals.

Sub-fencing would utilize portable electronet fencing (I reside on the property).

My property is a bit wet as well, though not in a flood plane.

Bruce King said...

The 5 strand barbed wire fence (that ended up about 5' tall) ran about $0.80/foot, all costs considered, so $1.21 a foot is within reason. I do know that the barbed wire fence that I just built will not contain goats or sheep; they're through the fence with the loss of some wool or hair and eating on the other side.
I don't know about the stay tuff fencing; it looks like good quality field fence.

I have been looking carefully at high tensile electric fences. You can do wide fence spacing, they're relatively easy to repair if broken, and go up pretty quickly, but do require electricity to be most effective. Wire cost is around 2 cents per foot of wire; with 6 strands, you'd have 12 cents per foot wire cost, vs something over a dollar for the stay tuff, or $2 a foot for 5' no-climb horse fence. Heres a manufacturers spiel on it:

Anonymous said...

Bruce (thanks for the reply above), I'm curious about this:

"30' galvanized electric fence wire (used to tie barbed wire to posts)"

In all of my research on fencing I've not run across anyone else doing this. Could you please elaborate as to the rationale behind this (and not horseshoe nails)?

As always, many thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge and stories!

Bruce King said...

I use the galvanized wire to attach the barbed wire to metal T posts instead of fence clips. I use fence staples to attach it to the wooden brace poles.

Sonica said...

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Fencing Post

NickG said...

I am preparing to put in a lot of barbed wire fence. I found the bar stock locally but where did you obtain the collars with the nuts? I found something similar that is a shaft collar but with a hex head adjustment.

Bruce King said...

I don't recall where I got the collars. I think they were at the hardware store; I don't remember going anywhere special for it. I'm sure you can find them on the internet though.