Barbed wire is the iconic staple of farms and ranches across the US. While there are more fencing options available today, barbed wire is still common–especially for perimeter fencing and cattle ranching. If you work with livestock, you’ll likely encounter barbed wire from time to time.
Barbed wire fences require maintenance like any other fencing material. Splicing wire to mend a fence is almost always a better option than replacing an entire fence line. Let’s take a look at two methods you can use to mend a barbed wire fence.
When Would You Need to Mend a Fence?
While most fencing materials, including barbed wire, are durable–everything has a useful lifespan. Eventually, environmental conditions take their toll, leaving weathered fence posts, broken wire, and downed fence lines.
You may need to:
- Splice Broken Wire Together
- Replace a Section with Spliced Wire
- Replace Broken Fence Posts
What You Need to Mend a Barbed Wire Fence?
Working around the farm often requires a few tools. For barbed wire fences, you’ll need work gloves to protect your hands from cuts and abrasions as well as a few wire tools.
- Fence Posts & Sleeves: A post can be wood, steel, or another engineered material as long as it is strong enough to hold the fence line. A sleeve is a pre-engineered anchor to stabilize a fence post and may help prevent wood rot at the ground level.
- Crimp Tool: A wire tool that deforms or crimps a connection between two or more wires. This tool is typically only necessary if you plan to use crimp sleeves to secure unions.
- Pliers: A wire tool that is used for grabbing, holding, or bending wire.
- Wire: Extra lengths of barbed wire to replace missing or broken sections.
- Wire Cutter: A wire tool with a sharp edge for cutting wire.
- Shovel: Used to dig up broken fence posts.
- Post Hole Digger: Used to excavate ground to replace fence posts.
- Tamper: Used to tamp down soil around a newly placed replacement post.
- Fasteners: fence staples for wood posts and wire clips for t-posts
- Fence Tool or Hammer: for securing fence staples
How to Splice Barbed Wire
When you find an area of your fence line that needs repair, begin by clearing the area. Use your wire cutters to take out any damaged sections of wire or cut a broken fence post free. Replace and stabilize posts as necessary and then splice sections of barbed wire to complete the fence.
There are two technique options for effectively splicing barbed wire:
- Western Union
- Twin Loop
The first technique is called a western union. Using this method, you will wrap the length of wire around the opposite wire in both directions. The western union produces a twisted wire union that is unlikely to unravel because it spirals in both directions.
The second technique is called a twin loop. As the name suggests, it’s a union that uses two loops (one on each end of the open wires) to join the separate pieces of wire. To create a twin loop, create a loop out of one wire, wrapping the extra length around itself to close the loop. Then, put the opposing wire through the loop and bring it back towards itself, twisting the remaining length of the wire back on itself.
How to Fix a Broken Fence Post
Aside from broken or missing wire, fence posts are another common place where fence lines fail. Many posts are made from wood, a natural material that is susceptible to moisture and pest infestations. Fixing a broken fence post usually means replacing a fence post.
You’ll need a shovel to dig up the broken post and wire cutters to cut it free from the fence line. Then, you’ll need a post hole digger to re-excavate the ground hole, a new post with an optional post sleeve, and a tamper.
Once your replacement post is in place, you’ll need to splice new barbed wire to the exposed ends on either side of that post and secure the union to the fence post. Keep in mind that corner posts require additional bracing and replacing those is a much more involved project that might require additional work all the way down the connecting fence line.
However, for line posts, the process is straightforward. Since barbed wire isn’t electrified, it can be attached directly to the post without adding an insulator. You can either wrap the wire around the post a few times, sending the ends of wire out in opposite directions to splice to the opposing open ends in the fence line. Or, use fence staples to secure the wire to the post. Fence staples are u-shaped with sharp ends on both sides. They’re designed to hug the wire with a nail on either side driving into the post. For in-line t-posts, a simple wire clip will secure the wire to the post.
The Takeaway on Mending Barbed Wire Fencing
Barbed wire fencing is a useful and somewhat common material on most farms. While it’s durable, it’s not immune to the effects of the environment. Years of weather, pests, and rodent damage take their toll leaving farmers and ranchers to walk fence lines and make repairs. The two splicing methods we’ve covered here, including the western union and twin loop are both effective ways to repair a barbed wire fence. To learn more about creating quality, durable farm fencing, visit Red Brand stores. Since 1989 we have been helping farm families build strong fences.