A good fence offers a strong, durable perimeter designed to safely contain and protect livestock. With a variety of fencing options on the market, you can choose the material that fits your budget and works best for the size and type of livestock you’re working with. Regardless of what you choose, the strength of the fence starts with the posts.
In most areas, fence posts should be set between three and four feet deep, or one-third of the length of the post. However, there are a variety of things to consider like diameter, drainage, and bracing.
Improperly set fence posts can down an entire fence line, leaving your animals vulnerable. So, just like building a house, the first step in building a good fence is post installation. In this post, we’ll talk about the dos and don’ts of post installation as the first step in building a strong, durable all wire fence.
Types of Fence Posts
When designing your fencing project, you’ll work with four types of fence posts:
1. Line Posts: The posts that form a straight line.
2. Corner Posts: Larger diameter posts set in the corners to bear the weight of the fence line.
3. Brace Posts: Supplemental support posts on either side of corner posts or gate posts that receive additional stress.
4. Gate Posts: Special posts positioned to hold a gate, placed in line with existing line posts.
On the farm, fence posts are typically made from either galvanized steel or treated lumber. For corner posts, you want wood posts that are a minimum of 8 inches in diameter. Line posts can also be made from treated lumber, but can be a little smaller in diameter due to the lighter load placed on line posts. (Avoid using landscaping timbers as a substitute for fence posts. These timbers are smaller in diameter and not designed to handle the stress placed on a typical line post.) Steel t-posts are an affordable alternative that provides strength and longevity.
Digging post holes can be a big task all by itself, especially in areas where the ground is hard with rock or clay. Before you begin, you will need to know how tall your fence will be and how deep your posts will be set. For most fences, the posts will be set 24 to 36 inches deep.
Measure and mark out your fence lines before you begin digging. Equal spacing is key in creating a strong, durable fence line. You will need a corner post at each corner with a brace post set at 8 feet on either side. You will also need to decide where to place gate posts, marking placement based on the size of the gate. Then, fill in your fence line, placing line posts 8 to 12 feet apart.
Setting fence posts takes a little more than just digging holes. Depending on the type of animals that the fence will serve and the terrain where you’re installing the fence, you may need to take extra steps to ensure a sturdy set.
The two most common methods for setting fence posts are concrete footings or backfilled with soil. With the first method, you can use a combination of gravel and concrete to fill the hole around the post. However, depending on the soil composition, concrete footings may not be necessary. If you can get a good pack with the soil that was removed from the hole, you can use it to backfill the space around the post. With the backfill method, you will use a tamping tool to press the soil down firmly, creating a strong footing.
With either footing method, you will want to add some surface area to the foot of each post. This step will help anchor the post in the ground, adding an extra layer of sturdiness. With concrete settings, you can use the staple method. Before dropping the post into the hole, drive six to eight fence staples (u-shaped nails) into the bottom of the post to serve as an anchor.
If you plan to backfill with dirt, you can create an anchor with a couple of pieces of scrap 2x4s by nailing or screwing the scrap pieces parallel to the bottom of the post. Each of these anchoring methods help keep the set post straight, leaving no wiggle room for wobbly posts.
Building a strong fence takes more than quality materials–it takes a good foundation. In this case, the posts provide the foundation for your field fence. It’s important that you take into consideration the size of your fence and the terrain, taking steps to ensure that posts are properly spaced and reinforced for a long lasting fence line. Red Brand has been providing the agriculture industry with quality fencing materials for more than 130 years. Shop our field fencing solutions today.