Agricultural fencing is a type of physical barrier used to control the travel of animals in or around a farm. This type of structure can be used to keep livestock within the confines of a paddock or field, or to keep wild animals like deer from entering the farm or preying on livestock. While agricultural fencing can vary widely in terms of design and materials, the average fence is roughly 4 feet (1.2 m) high in most applications.
This type of fencing can be costly, particularly when it's used to cover a large area. Despite the expense, many landowners consider fencing a worthwhile investment because of its many benefits. Fencing keeps livestock from getting lost or wandering away, and also keeps predators out. Agricultural fencing also helps maintain peace among neighbors, and can protect gardens or crop fields from hungry farm animals.
The use of agricultural fencing is often regulated by local laws and ordinances. At one time, much of the world's livestock was permitted to roam freely and graze. Eventually, as populations grew, some municipalities began to use agricultural fencing to keep livestock from wandering onto roads and causing accidents. This soon led to landowners being required to contain and control farm animals to keep them away from private property nearby. In some areas, private property owners are still required to install their own agricultural fencing to protect their own land from wandering wildlife.
Wire fencing is the most common form of agricultural fencing in most parts of the world. The wire is supported by wooden or metal posts, and is installed at high tension to add strength and durability. Some farmers may also use barbed wire or electric fencing to keep animals from leaning on the fence, and to enhance protection from predators. For smaller animals, farms may use woven wire mesh, which is constructed in a net-like pattern to keep sheep or goats from passing between the wires.
In applications where larger animals may be present, wire fencing may be insufficient. Instead, wood or composite materials may be used for added strength and support. Wood fencing is typically strong enough to withstand charging horses or cattle, and may be more difficult for horses to jump than small wire fencing. Vinyl or composite fences offer the same benefits, but require much less maintenance and tend to have a longer lifespan than wood. Both wood and vinyl are much more expensive than wire fencing, and may be restricted to smaller applications where cost is not quite as prohibitive.