There is a lot of work to do on a farm. Between caring for animals, tending to crops, repairing machinery, and everything in between, most farmers are busy from dawn to dusk. It’s important to invest in fencing that won’t require excessive upkeep and maintenance — and that’s why so many farmers turn to wire fencing.
Wire fencing is a popular choice because it’s inexpensive, relatively easy to install, and incredibly durable. But just HOW durable is it? The answer to that question depends on many things, from the type of fence you’re using to the thickness of the wires and more.
Types of Wire Fences
There are several different types of wire fencing, and they all serve a different purpose on a farm. If you want your wire fence to last as long as possible, it’s important to choose the right fence type for your needs. Some of the most common types of wire fencing include the following:
Welded wire is a kind of mesh wire fencing. It is made up of a grid of horizontal and vertical wires, which are spot-welded together at the intersections. This welding prevents the wires from moving, giving you a firm structure that works well for garden fencing, animal cages, or dog runs.
Unlike welded fencing, which fixes the wires together in a rigid structure, woven wire fencing ties the horizontal and vertical wires together with wire knots. There are a few different types of woven wire fencing (hinge joints, fixed knots, etc.), but they all offer significantly more strength than welded wire. This is ideal for fencing in horses, cattle, or other animals that might lean against the fence, as the wire will flex to support them without breaking.
Barbed wire fencing is most common on cattle enclosures and security fences. This wire consists of sharp “barbs” placed along the length of the wire, which prevents people or animals from approaching the fence. This kind of fencing is an effective barrier for cattle, but it’s not recommended for horse enclosures due to the risk of injury to hides.
Factors That Impact Fence Life Span
The life span of your fence will vary based on the type of fence you have — but that’s not the only determining factor. It’s also important to look at a few other things that could affect your fence’s life.
Thickness of Wire
Wire for fences comes in a range of thickness. The thickness, or gauge, of a wire determines it’s overall strength. The number assigned to a wire was originally determined by the number of times it was pulled to achieve a desired thickness. A thinner wire is pulled more times and therefore has a higher number. You’ll find smooth and electric wires that are anywhere between 9 and 17 gauge, while most woven wire ag fence is between 9 and 12 1/2 gauge. The thickness of the wire, combined with the fence’s construction, will determine how well it will hold up to pressure and the elements. Generally speaking, the thicker the wire, the longer the fence will last.
Wire for ag fence is almost always coated in a molten bath of zinc alloy. This process, called galvanization, covers the steel to protect it from rusting. Red Brand fence features two classes of galvanization. Depending on weather conditions, Class 1 is adequate for most applications. However, Class 3 adds more zinc coating and extends the life of the steel.
Welding is an effective way to secure two wires together, which helps give your fence rigidity and stability. However, keep in mind that it also tends to “burn off” any protective coatings on the wire. This means that your fence is susceptible to rust and corrosion at the weld points, which can make the fence break down faster than a woven wire option.
Life Span of Each Type of Wire Fence
Just how long your wire fence will last depends on several factors. Construction (woven vs. welded), wire gauge and galvaniztion all affect longevity. In addition, local climate, proper installation and maintenance, and starting with the right fence type for your property all matter. To make your investment last, be sure to consider all of these factors. As a general guide, you can expect the following:
- Welded: 5-10 years*
- Woven: 20 to 30 years*
- Barbed: 20 to 30 years*
*depending on location
A final note about corrosion and longevity: rust is a natural reaction when excessive moisture comes into contact with steel. Certain places in the US are more susceptible to rust and corrosion due to environmental patterns including rain, snow, and sea air. For example, fence found in the most northeastern US and the eastern seaboard are most affected by salty air.
Whatever type of fence you’re looking for, Red Brand can help with your fencing needs. Be sure to talk to your local Red Brand dealer or visit our online store for wire fencing selections, t-posts, fence tools, and a whole lot more.