The decision to build a fence is an important one. There are many types of fencing and each has their own set of advantages and disadvantages. The type you choose will depend on what your needs are, how much money you want to spend, and if you have any animals that need electric fencing. This blog post talks about the most common types of fences, ranked by cost so that you can make the best decision for your situation, and points you in the direction of some online farm fencing calcultors so you can drill into the detail if you need to!
Agricultural fences are a crucial tool to keep animals in or out of a specific area. They come in a variety of materials depending on terrain, location and what animals to confine or keep out. There are many issues that can change the average height of 4 feet (1.2 meters) for agricultural fencing. Making the right choice of materials, creating the right design, and then calculating the cost is a comprehensive process.
Research by Iowa State University Ag Economist William Edwards found high tensile nonelectirc fence were among most economical type has found that high tensile non-electric wire fences were among most economical type available (with costs per foot average around $40-$60) averaging about 20% annually ($16). This option offers some protection from predators as well humans looking through your property line without worrying too much if something gets out it won’t be able to access anything beyond what’s been fenced off which makes them perfect for country properties where livestock grazing is an option.
This is a very inexpensive option. It’s not strong enough to contain bigger livestock, and it doesn’t offer protection from predators or humans that might be looking for an easy meal! The cost per foot on this type of fence depends mainly on how much wire you buy as well the length so your total costs will vary greatly depending upon what size fencing area needs coverage) but average around $600 -$900/acre in materials alone (not including labor). Maintenance also varies based again off usage with woven types averaging about 20% annually ($120-$240), though I’ve seen figures upwards up 50%. Total yearly ownership expense comes out at between approx 15%-50%, making them one affordable choice if security isn’t much of a concern.
Considerations when purchasing an electrical fence include the power level and voltage. One thing to keep in mind is that electric fences require a source of power, so be sure you can provide this before installing.
For the least expensive electric fence, a high tensile non electrified wire averages $136 per year. – The most costly is an electrified wire, costing $400 per year. – The total cost of an electric fence is about 50% higher than traditional fencing types like woven or barbed wire.
Electric wires come in a variety of power levels, and the higher voltage costs more per year on average ($400). – The total cost of an electric fence is about 50% higher than traditional fencing types like woven or barbed wire.
Contractors can install an electric fence for a range of $700 to over, even up around about $1500.
An electric fence can also be a good choice for those animals with sensitive skin. If you have horses, goats or other livestock that tend to rub up against the fence, an electric one might be a good idea.
The best time to install is early spring before hot weather sets in. You’ll also want to install posts and string a high tensile wire at least five feet above the ground or higher if your fence is going to be in a wet area.
The wire should also never come into contact with the ground because it can become damaged and start making noises.
Specifically, when it comes to calculating the cost of your farm fencing, there are some online resources that can guide you and help you with the task. Here are a few resources to get you going.
This is an excellent excel based calculator provided by the Manitoba provincial government in Canada. It is created and maintained by Manitoba Agriculture Farm Management. The last update was in July 2017.
It is a very comprehensive fencing calculator where you can custom specify the post spacing and then choose between page wire, barbed wire or electric fencing options.
By customizing unit prices, the calculator is able to provide a good estimate for many different scenarios.
You can access the download here.
Something that a calculator like that doesn’t do is help you determine the overall costs in terms of labor needed to complete a big fencing job.
For example, if you determined that it would take 20 days to complete a significant fencing job on a farm, a typical calculation would be something like the following:
- Wages @ $240 per labour/day.
- 10 labourers x $240 per day x 20 days
- This would come to a total of $48,000 in labour costs over and above material costs.
Ultimately, you need to be able to build in labor costs into the calculator if it is applicable to your situation.
Other Online Resources To Calculate Fencing Costs
Farm Fencing Systems – Fact Sheet From Ontario Ministry Of Agriculture Food And Rural Affairs
This Fact sheet is useful for assisting in understanding what type of fencing might be needed in a specific situation, and the approximate costs of that decision. It is a short 4 page PDF document that provides a broad overview of the options. The final page contains a table that while not a calculator as such, could be used to manually calculate the costs by substituting actual costs for materials such as barbed wire, page wire, steel or cedar posts etc.
Useful Blog Post Summarizing Australian Context
For an Australian context, Hipages has a very good 2020 overview blog post about all things rural fencing. It goes into the issues of choosing a rural fence type, designing that fence, and the typical costs associated with that design.
It is a useful summary for any context, not just Australia.
It provides a rough estimate of costs (in Australian Dollars) for 100 meters (approx. 330 feet) of fencing of different kinds that include the cost of wire and posts:
- ~$500 for cattle
- ~$850 for sheep
- ~$720 for sheep and cattle (it seems a little odd that this is cheaper than the sheep option)
- ~$1500 for horsed.
One downside to the article is that it doesn’t give any advice to electric fencing cost scenarios. Check out the guide here.
Resources For Electric Fencing Options
There is a good overview of electric fencing options and issues by The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in the UK. It states that electric fencing can be cost-effective and flexible, but does not suite all scenarios. It is well worth a read if you want to go the electric fence way.