The Complete Guide to Farm and Ranch Fencing

Whether you’re looking to replace an old fence or are ready to build a new one, constructing a fence is an investment in both time and money. There are quite a few types of fence material available these days, and different advantages and disadvantages to each one. If you’re on the fence (pun intended) on which to choose, you’re in luck! This complete guide to farm and ranch fencing will help you determine what’s best for you, and your livestock.

Traditional Methods


Memories of John Wayne western movies conjure up scenes of old ranch farms with wooden fences surrounding them. Wood looks nice, but requires dedication to maintain. Be prepared to paint and stain your fence every few years! The strong sun here in Arizona can be especially hard on your wood fence. Of course, if you have a small area to enclose and don’t mind the work, go for it! Wood is affordable and safe—no need to worry about your animals or family getting hurt, unlike with other materials.

Barbed Wire

Developed during the 1800s when wood was scarce, barbed wire is now illegal in some states but is OK here in Arizona. State law says there must be four strands of barbed wire in your fence, at specific levels. Be sure to read up on the current legislation for barbed wire.

The advantage of using barbed wire is it is effective at deterring intruders, and also very inexpensive. Use extreme caution during construction though, even if you’re an experienced rancher. When handling barbed wire, you could end up tearing your clothes, or even your skin! Make sure you wear protective clothes, gloves, and boots. It’s not a safe fence for horses, but is great for protecting produce fields from animals which might trample on or eat your crops.

Newer Methods

Woven Wire

Woven wire is a great option for pigs, poultry, sheep, and goats—all notorious escape artists! This sturdy material will prevent them from climbing, digging, and flying through your fence. Horse owners like it since equine are much less likely to get tangled in woven wire, as opposed to barbed wire. It’s low-maintenance and can last for 20 years! Woven wire offers many combinations of wire size, spacing, and height depending on the animals it is for. You’ll need heavy-duty wooden posts to support this type of fence; it’s heavy compared to wood or other types of wire.

If your fence is for cattle, you may need to invest in some barbed or electric wire to place along the top. If cattle lean over a fence with just the woven wire, they may break it. To prevent having to corral the herd, and possible trouble with the neighbors, it’s a good idea to take extra precautions.

High Tensile Wire

If you want a fence that will really last, you may want to try high tensile wire. This type of fencing lasts 50 years! It’s very effective too. Even an Ox couldn’t get through high tensile wire! It’s safe, so you don’t have to worry about your animals (or people) getting caught in it. Available in either smooth or woven designs, it will need minimal maintenance.

One disadvantage is the up-front cost. The low maintenance and durability of this type of fencing definitely makes up for that though—you’ll get your money’s worth! A high tensile wire fence requires special equipment and skill to construct. We can help! Consult your local Shoppers Supply staff members for expert advice on installing your high tensile wire fence.


The synthetic fencing available today is much better than what was available in the 1970s. It looks nice and is a lot sturdier. This type of fence is popular on horse farms since they are so safe—they’re designed to bend upon impact. There are a few different options to choose from including PVC plastic, high-tensile polymer (a wire fence that looks similar to synthetic rails), treated wood, or vinyl. Synthetic fences are another type of fence that will last for many years.

PVC fencing tends to be a more expensive type of synthetic to install, and requires special tools. High-tensile polymer is cheaper than PVC, but the wires must be tightened once or twice per year to maintain the right amount of tension. All in all, it’s a great low-maintenance option for your farm or ranch.


Electric fences have grown in popularity as a way to keep dogs from wandering around the neighborhood in towns where fences are discouraged. It’s a great solution for the farm too! An electric fence is inexpensive to set up and maintain. It’s very effective because the short zap it gives creates the same reaction that livestock are used to in a herd environment. They learn to respect the fence just like they respect the herd leader!

The main component of the fence is a charger, which sends short pulses of energy through the wires. It should be run at all times, especially for cattle and sheep. Because of the electrical nature of the fence, you should take extra care to make sure it’s installed and running properly at all times or it can become dangerous. In addition, it’s a good idea to check local city codes before installing the fence for rules on height and signage.

Don’t Forget the Tools

Once you’ve decided which type of fencing suits your needs, it’s time to get the necessary tools. In addition to the wire or wood material, you may need the following supplies:

  • Wire Tightener
  • T-Posts
  • Accessories for T-posts (post puller, caps, brace set, wedges, etc.)
  • Wood/Steel Posts (Option instead of the T-post)
  • Gate
  • Fence Charger (for electric fences)
  • Miscellaneous tools i.e. hammer, nails, etc.

You’re Ready to Start Construction!

With the information provided in this complete guide to farm and ranch fencing, you can get started constructing a fence that keeps your livestock safe and sound. And you’ll find everything you need to get it installed right here at Shoppers Supply! From wire, to t-posts and accessories, to a variety of tools and equipment, we’ve got what you need to get the job done. Plus our expert staff are always here to answer any questions you may have and help you find what you need. Visit our Apache Junction or Chandler location today!

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