5 Cattle Fencing Mistakes to Avoid

Whether you are an experienced farmer or new to farm fencing, there is always something new to learn about the most effective way to build cattle fencing. Everyone makes mistakes along the way. That’s why we put together this list of the top five most common cattle fencing mistakes to avoid so that you can learn from the wisdom of others and set yourself up for success.


1. Corner posts are not the right size or not deep enough.

The corner posts can make or break your cattle fence, as once the corners fail, so does the rest of the fence. Two of the most common mistakes when it comes to farm fencing are using undersized corner fence posts and not setting corner posts deep enough into the ground. The size of the posts will depend on the strength you need from your fence. Light duty fences like a high-tensile pasture fence will require a 4- to 5-inch diameter, while barbed wire fencing or high-tensile wire fence requires a 6- to 7-inch diameter post. Net wire fences may require an 8-inch post diameter.

Not setting corner posts deeply enough is typically a bigger issue in areas that have soft or sandy soils. You need to set your posts with a depth that is equal to or greater than the height of the top wire. For instance, if your fence is 6 feet high, then you will need to make sure that corner posts are set 6 feet into the ground. A bracing system can help ensure that your corner posts stay in the ground. You’ll also want to ensure that you are using a quality t-post driver.

2. Posts are too close to each other.

Another common issue is that posts are not spaced out far enough from one another. This may be due to the fact that individuals who are most familiar with barbed wire fencing follow the rule of thumb of using one post for every rod length, or 16.5 feet. However, this isn’t the standard for every type of fencing, so it’s important to set posts based on the materials you’re using.

For electric cattle fencing, you can space your posts out a bit more. Some fencing experts recommend setting fence posts about 80 to 100 feet apart while using shorter “stay” posts to hold wire up. This amounts to about 50 posts per mile. Other experts recommend spacing posts about 50 to 70 feet apart, depending on preference.

3. Ground rods are too close to each other.

When building an electric cattle fence, spacing is key to ground rod installation. The ground rod acts like an antenna that receives electrons that flow through the soil and back to the energizer. This completes the circuit. Experts recommend 3 feet of ground rods per joule of energizer output. That means that if you have a 6-joule energizer, you’ll need 18 feet of ground rods.

While most fencers will install three ground rods near the energizer, you should space these ground rods throughout the fencing space. This is especially important if the average rainfall for the area is not ideal for adequate grounding. For best results, use galvanized rods for your ground rods and an insulated galvanized lead-out wire on your energizer. These are more expensive than their copper counterparts, but you don’t have to deal with corrosion.

4. You’re using the wrong size energizer.

Another common farm fencing mistake is to use the wrong size energizer when building an electric cattle fence. You should aim to use 1 joule of output per mile of fence, regardless of how many strands of wire you use. That means if you have 6 miles of fence, you will need a 6-joule energizer.

Larger energizers produce smaller voltage and are more likely to short out while trying to power through vegetation that comes in contact with the wire. For this reason, aim to find an energizer that is 7,000 to 8,000 volts high.

5. You haven’t made your fence wildlife friendly.

At first, this may seem counterintuitive. Many ranchers and farmers want to build a fence that keeps wildlife like elk and moose out. However, sometimes a more flexible fence is the answer to keeping your cattle safe while also preventing fence damage or breaks. For example, a high-tensile electric fence on t-posts may bend and break when faced with large wildlife. However, powerflex fence posts offer more flexibility and less chance of damage.

If you’re looking for quality farm fencing supplies, you’ve come to the right place. FarmRanchStore.com offers barb wire fencing tools, net fencing, panels, gates, cattle guards, and other equipment like the t-post driver. Take a look at our wide selection of fencing equipment and supplies from trusted brands like Priefert, Powder River, WW Manufacturing, Stay-Tuff, and OK Brand.