Paying for someone to come out and build a fence can be expensive, even for a small fence. If you’re looking to build a solid farm fence while also saving some money, a DIY project is just what you need. While building a farm fence is a lot of work, the cost savings and sense of pride in your work are more than worth it.
Whether you’re new to building a fence or have years of experience building and maintaining fences on your farm, it’s always a good idea to go back to the basics. Here are the steps you should take to plan and install your own farm fence.
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Determine Your Fencing Needs
Before you even take out your shovel and auger, you need to determine your fencing needs. Do you need multiple fences to separate your livestock? Will one large fence around your property work? Every farm is unique, meaning what might be right for one farm in terms of fencing may not be right for your farm. Taking the time to really assess your farm, your land, and your livestock can give you a better idea of how much time the project will take, as well as its overall cost.
We’ll talk about the various fencing types a little later in the article, but picking the right kind of fencing for your farm is extremely important. You need to select the right kind of fencing to keep your livestock in, but it’s also crucial to pick the right kind of fencing to keep predators out.
Picking the Right Fence Type
Once you’ve determined your general fencing needs, such as an estimated size, what livestock you’ll need to put up fencing for, and what materials you plan on using, it’s time to pick the specific style of fencing you’re going to use. Large livestock may require electric fencing or barbed wire fencing. You’ll need to account for the constant power source to an electric fence and if your livestock may injure themselves on a barbed wire fence.
A split rail fence is an attractive option that is also durable and effective. While it may not be an ideal option for larger, rowdier livestock, it’s a good solution for horse fencing. Split rail fences are easy to install, but if you’re fencing in smaller livestock, you’ll want to go with a sturdy wire mesh fencing to ensure nothing gets in or out.
Map Your Fence
Blueprints are important for planning and preparing for your DIY farm fence project. You’ll need to take precise measurements of the area where you’re planning your fence. It’s recommended to place posts every six to ten feet apart, so you’ll need to mark accordingly. Measuring your fence post distance inaccurately can lead to weaknesses in the fence once it’s fully installed.
To ensure that your fence posts are thoroughly secured, dig post holes to a depth of three feet if you are able. While you can dig them at two feet deep, you’ll need to add more concrete for maximum stability. We recommend using an auger to make your post holes consistent and simple. Digging with a shovel is always possible, but will add a lot of time and effort to the project.
After the post holes are dug, you’ll want to go in and tamp down the dirt prior to pouring in the concrete base. There are plenty of slim tampers that you can purchase at your local hardware store, or you can use the end of your 4 x 4 to tamp the dirt into place.
Tamp down the bottom of the hole two to three times to make sure the soil won’t shift under the concrete. Pour the concrete base in the hole and place the fence post in. Use a leveler to make sure your post is straight. You may need to secure the post in place while the concrete sets. You may also need to trim the tops of your fence posts if you didn’t dig all of your fence posts to the same depth. As long as your fence posts are at least two feet deep with an adequate concrete base, your fence should be sturdy enough to do the job.
The next step depends on the kind of fencing that you’re going to use. If you’re using an electric fence or a wire mesh fence, you’ll simply need to staple the fence or wire into the posts securely. Make sure that your electric fence is grounded before powering on. You can use the same technique with a barbed wire fence as well. A staple gun is the best way to secure your fencing to the posts.
If you’re installing a split rail fence, it’s always best to purchase posts that are pre-notched. If you don’t you’ll need to manually notch your posts, which can be a difficult, time-consuming process. Measuring just one fence post incorrectly can misalign an entire section of your fence, which means that area may be weaker than the rest of your fence.
Before you let your livestock into the area, test your entire fence for strength and durability. That means testing the electrical current in all sections of your electric fence or manually checking your barbed wire, split rail, and mesh fencing sections. This last step in the installation process is extremely important and allows you to fix and reinforce any issues before they become a bigger problem down the road.
Don’t Cut Corners
While building your own DIY farm fence isn’t an overly complex process, it does require a significant amount of work and dedication to get it right. Rushing through the process or cutting corners to save on time and costs is only going to cost you more in the long run. Take it one step at a time and don’t move on to the next step until you’re completely satisfied with the work you’ve done.
Have you gone through your own DIY farm fence project? Let us know how it went in the comments below!
Dain Rakestraw is the Director of Marketing and Brand Management at Red Brand, a line of premium agricultural fencing products that is known as the most recognized brand of agricultural fencing in the United States.