When we moved onto our land in Middle Tennessee, we took over a small farm with existing home, work shed, barn, and fenced-in pasture. In some ways it was a relief to not have to create something out of nothing, but in others it is a pain because what exists is not necessarily ideal for our needs, so we get the joy of tearing down before setting up.
Before our first Spring on the homestead, we need to decide how much fencing to keep and where, as well as whether to replace a few things. I’ve heard all sorts of recommendations from farmers at my local farmer’s market as to which fencing works best for cows, sheep, goats, and pigs. Different animals have different skills and sizes, so the fencing has to handle each unique situation as well as the rest.
I asked a few of my favorite homesteading bloggers their opinions on all-purpose fencing, and this is what they shared with me…
Homesteader #1: Ashley Browning of The Browning Homestead at Red Fox Farm
“Hey Daniel! I recommend a polywire hot fence connected to 120 volts. Although pigs have proven hard for us to keep in (the little boars anyways are quite the determined creatures). Joel Salatin has good luck with hardwire fencing for pigs but they are only hardwired for a few months. Hog fencing has also worked well for us BUT its quite expensive. Hope this helps! And with hot wire you need to train your children as well.”
Homesteader #2: Ashley Housely at Whistle Pig Hollow
“High tensile is the most cost effective per linear foot and it’s durable. 6-8 strands depending on what you’re fencing in or out. Electrified fence is the most effective. Aesthetics = wood board = $$$$$.”
Homesteader #3: Shaye Elliott at The Elliott Homestead
“Four inch round rails, the GIANT nails they sell at Lowe’s (I think they’re six inches and are ribbed so they don’t easily slip out of the wood) and hog wire fencing for the bottom half of the fence. Man. Wish I would have known this six months ago…”
Homesteader #4: Anna Hess at Walden Effect
“We can only make first-hand statements about chickens at this point, but what we’ve chosen for our expansion pasture that may someday house larger animals is cattle panels. Check back next year and maybe I’ll be able to tell you how that worked out. It’s expensive, but durable and easy to install.”
Four completely different answers! It’s not surprising, really. As they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. But some pig breeds are larger than others and test the fencing differently. One homesteader might have had a wonderful experience with electric wire while another swears that pigs simply cannot be kept secure without hog panel.
We’ve ALMOST Made a Decision
To start off our dairy goat raising adventure, we’re leaning toward a combination panel fencing, aka “Combo Panel”. Unlike cattle panel, combination panel has progressively smaller openings toward the bottom so pigs and small animals can’t get through. It’s 50″ tall rather than the typical 36″ height of hog panel. Taller panel is useful for keeping goats and cows inside.
I’ve elected to avoid electric fencing for now because I have no experience with it and do not want to rest the safety of our animals squarely upon a system that could short or be rendered ineffective by improper use. There is plenty of high tensile wire fencing on the property already in the event we wish to use it. For now, I plan to rotate paddocks using movable combination panel fencing within the existing fenced areas of our pasture.
What about you? What type of fencing has worked best for you?
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