University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #AN258

Estimated Livestock Fencing Costs for the Small-Farm Owner1

Derek L. Barber2

One of the most expensive costs for a small-farm owner considering the production of livestock is pasture fencing. The type of permanent fence constructed impacts the cost per foot and total cost. This publication compares the cost of constructing a ¼-mile (1,320 feet) fence with two different types of permanent fencing plus temporary interior fencing for rotational grazing.

The type of fence constructed varies with personal choice and the species of livestock to be confined. The two types of fencing illustrated are field wire and barbed wire. The list of tools (Table 1) and the materials needed for each type of fencing provided below is standard in the construction of a fence. Costs were obtained from an average price provided by a number of local retailers in north central Florida, although prices may vary with location. Labor cost was not factored into the total cost, assuming that the landowner will be responsible for construction.

More information on livestock fence construction and fence brace assemblies can be found at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/an230 and http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ae018.

Table 1. 

Average cost of materials by fence type

List of Tools

Field Fence

Barbed Wire

cost per item

cost per item

Shovel

21.99

21.99

Post hole digger

29.99

29.99

Fence plier/wire unroller combo

18.99

18.99

Leather gloves

19.99

19.99

Field fence puller

97.65

--------

Barbed wire stretcher

31.99

31.99

Post driver

24.99

24.99

Comealong (power puller)

22.99

--------

Wire twister

3.99

3.99

Hammer

30.00

30.00

     

Total cost

$302.57

$181.93

Field Wire Fence

The field fence is constructed with a double-H, or horizontal corner/end braces (Figure 2), by using three 6–8" × 8' wood posts and two 4" × 6'5" wood posts for the cross-brace at each end. A braced–line post assembly (Figure 3) should be placed at a minimum of 660 feet apart from the end braces in a ¼-mile straight run. Posts between the braces may be either steel T-posts or 4" wood posts spaced 12 feet apart. One strand of barbed wire is placed 2" above the top of the field fence (Figure 4). Table 2 lists the materials and the estimated cost for a ¼ mile of field fence. x X *

Table 2. 

Estimated cost for ¼ mile (1,320 ft.) of field fence

Item

Quantity

Cost per item

Total cost

6–8" × 8' wood posts

8

10.75

86.00

4" × 6½' wood posts

5

3.95

19.75

9 ga. brace wire

1

16.95

13.99

Field fence

4

129.95

519.80

Barbed wire

1

35.99

35.99

6½' T-post a,b

110

3.89

427.90

1½" fence staples

1 lb.

2.11

2.11

16d × 3½" l. nails

1 lb.

2.99

2.99

       

Total

   

$1,108.53

Total per foot

   

$0.84

a Bag of clips should be included with each purchase of 5 posts

b 4" wood posts can be substitute for T-post (Total cost = $1,115.13)

Figure 1. 

Types of brace assemblies


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Types of brace assemblies and where to locate them: (a) For fence lengths of 10 rods (165 feet) or less, use single–span end construction. (b) For fence lengths of 10 to 40 rods (165 to 660 feet), use double–span end construction. (c) For fences more than 40 rods (660 feet) long, use a braced-line-post assembly to divide the fence lengths. (d) On rolling land, fence stretching is easier if braced-line-post assemblies are located at the foot and top of each hill. (e) Contour fences more than 20 rods (330 feet) long should have a braced-line-post assembly installed to keep the stretches to 20 rods (330 feet) or less. Install in straight section at least one post span away from a curve. Do not install on a curve. Note: One rod equals 16½ feet.

Figure 2. 

Double horizontal corner/end brace.


Credit:

Derek Barber, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 3. 

Single horizontal line brace.


Credit:

Derek Barber, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 4. 

Field fence assembly


Credit:

Speckmann and Steele


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 5. 

Field fence splice


Credit:

Speckmann and Steele


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Barbed Wire

Materials for barbed wire fence are similar to the field fence except that five strands of barbed wire are substituted for the field fence.

Table 3. 

Construction costs for five-strand barbed wire (based on 1,320 ft.)

Item

Quantity

Cost per item

Total cost

6-8" x 8' wood posts

8

10.75

86.00

4" x 6 ½' wood posts

5

3.95

19.75

9 ga. brace wire

1

16.95

16.95

Barbed wire

5

35.99

174.95

6 ½' T-post a,b

110

3.89

427.90

1 ½" fence staples

1 lb.

2.11

2.11

16d 3 ½" nails

1 lb.

2.89

2.89

     

Total

   

$730.55

Total per foot

   

$0.55

a Bag of clips should be included with each purchase of 5 posts

b 4" wood posts can be substitute for T-post (Total cost = $737.15)

Figure 6. 

Five-strand barbed wire spacing


Credit:

Speckmann and Steele


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Interior Electrified Polywire

The polywire fence uses one strand of polywire. Instead of wood or steel T-post, fiberglass rods are used and spaced 40 feet apart. The polywire may be placed at a height of 26–34" above ground.

Table 4. 

Construction costs for interior–use electrified polywire fence (based on 1,320 ft.)

Item

Quantity

Cost per item

Total cost

Wire winder

1

27.99

27.99

Polywire (1320'/400 m )

1

29.99

29.99

Fiberglass post

35

2.99

104.65

DC energizer

1

98.99

98.99

Ground rod & clamp

1

16.99

16.99

Insulators for wood posts

1 pack of 25

5.49

5.49

     

Total

   

$284.10

Total per foot

   

$0.22

Summary

The cost of installing a ¼-mile of field fence is $298.04 or 22 cents a foot more than the construction of a barbed wire fence. The added cost of installing a field fence, on a cattle operation, for example, may be justified by having the flexibility to house multiple species of animals (small ruminants, horses, or swine) if the need arises.

The estimated cost of materials to fence 10 acres with field fence would be $2,067.84, and a five-strand barbed wire fence would cost $1,471.76.

Figure 7. 

Acreage and fencing measurements


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Table 5. 

Quick Conversion Chart for Figure 7

1 rod

=

16½ ft.
10 rods

=

165 ft.
20 rods

=

330 ft.
¼ mile

=

1,320 ft. or 80 rods
½ mile

=

2,640 ft. or 160 rods
1 mile

=

5,280 ft. or 320 rods

Fence Worksheet

Fill in the worksheet with the amount and cost of materials for the fence you are considering.

Posts

Number of 6–8" wood post _____ x post cost _____ = __________

Number of 4" wood post _____ x post cost _____ = __________

Number of steel T-post _____ x post cost _____ = __________

Total __________ (1)

Wire

Number of rolls, barbed wire _____ x cost per roll _____ = __________

Number of rolls, field wire _____ x cost per roll _____ = __________

Total __________ (2)

Gate

Number of gates _____ x cost per gate _____ = __________ (3)

Total cost (add lines 1, 2, and 3) __________

References

Bucklin, R.A., B.T. French, R.S. Sand, and W.E. Kunkle. 1988. Fence brace assemblies. University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service publication. Circular 792.

Mayer, R., and T. Olsen. 2005. Estimated costs for livestock fencing. Iowa State University Extension Service publication. FM 1855.

Speckmann, R., and J. Steele. 2009. Livestock fence construction. University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service publication. AN230.

Wilson, R.K., and R.T. Clark. 2002. Costs of cattle fencing for grazing areas. University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension Service publication. EC830.

Worley, J.W. 2009. Fences for the farm. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service publication. Circular 774.

Section Heading

Figure 7. 

Acreage and fencing measurements


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Footnotes

1.

This document is AN258, one of a series of the Animal Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extesnsion. Original publication date January 2011. Revised March 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/.

2.

Derek L. Barber, livestock and natural resources extension agent II, UF/IFAS Extension Columbia County, Lake City FL 32055.

The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this publication do not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.