Types of Wire Fencing

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Everything you NEED to know about wire fencing so you won't waste money buying the wrong thing!

You can waste money buying the wrong wire fencing; there are LOTS of choices. I will cover the types of fencing, their uses, and the pros and cons of each.

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I’m pretty sure buying the wrong wire fencing is a right of passage for most homesteaders and farmers. If you get this right the FIRST time, you will save yourself a LOT of money and headache. Trust me on this. I have a lot of experience on buying the wrong thing!

This post will give you the run down on different options for wire fencing and which are best for which uses. The reality is that EACH type has its uses.

You want to use the type that’s most affordable AND that also serves your purpose. If you save money by using chicken wire on your DIY chicken run, but lose your entire flock in a night to a raccoon or fox, you didn’t really save money.

But that chicken wire would be fine to keep rabbits out of your garden. We’ve had spots where we placed the wrong fencing and others where the fencing was SERIOUS overkill. Over time, I plan to shift the fencing around to the appropriate spots.

In the meantime, my goats have been tearing apart my welded wire fence (womp womp).

I’m going to give you the price I’m finding for these products at the time of writing this post. Please check the links to see current prices. I can’t promise they’ll stay the same. Also these prices don’t include the cost of T-posts or other types of posts that you’ll need.

Chicken Wire

Order it for pickup from Home Depot | 4′ height seems to run around $0.80/foot

Really good at keeping chickens in or rabbits out. Horrible at preventing predators from getting in your coop.

This isn’t really a great product for most purposes. If you want to keep rabbits out of your garden, it’s probably the most affordable option.

Hardware Cloth

Order it for pickup from Home Depot | 4′ height seems to run around $2.44/foot

Hardware cloth, like other types of wiring fencing, is sold with the measurements for the size of the gaps. You have small squares that are either 1/4″ or 1/2″.

These two cuts of wire fencing below are both considered hardware cloth. I prefer the one with the larger squares…. it is stiffer while the one with smaller squares feels more flimsy.

Two different size gaps in hardware cloth.

Welded Wire

Order it for pickup from Home Depot | 4′ height seems to run around $0.77-$1.12/foot depending on the roll size (large rolls are more affordable per foot)

This type of fencing doesn’t stand up to large animals pushing against it. This includes goats and pigs.

The main issue is that the wires can detach where they were originally welded together. This happened to me within a year of installing it in my goat field. It’s VERY hard to not accidentally break it when you’re pulling it tight to install.

As you can see in the photo below, a vertical wire has come undone from the goats rubbing up against this fencing. This is not great. I will likely need to replace this fencing at some point.

Broken welded wire fencing from my goats rubbing up on it.

Overall I can’t recommend this for most areas… but it worked great for the top of my chicken run, the top of my chicken tractor, and to bury as an ‘apron’ to keep predators from digging under my coop fence to get in. I also doubled it up with hardware cloth on parts of my chicken tractor.

As you can see below, the top is welded wire and the hardware cloth is on the bottom. They overlap so as to leave no gaps for predators to get through.

Comparison of the welded wire I used on the top of my coop run vs the welded wire I use for the bottom.

If you use this with a strand of electric wire to keep animals from pushing on it, it may last longer.

Woven / No Climb Horse Fencing

Order it for pickup from Home Depot | 4′ height seems to run around $2.69/foot

No climb horse fencing is VERY heavy. I bought a huge roll for my garden and they lifted it into my minivan using a fork lift. When I got it home, we gouged the back of the van getting it out. Rolling it out to put it up was a HUGE struggle. I managed, but this was tough flying solo. My husband will sometimes help me with things around the homestead, but we have three kids who need supervision too; sometimes I get help for the first 10% of the project, then get stuck trying to stretch fencing by myself for the 90% left.

This is the first length of no climb that I attempted to install alone. Obviously it should be tighter than this. Trying to do this alone sucks. 0 stars. Do not recommend doing this solo. But despite the poor install, it’s in GREAT shape compared to my welded wire.

In the photo below, you can see the top wire is reddish. This is a much sturdier wire and helps provide stability to the fencing.

no climb woven wire fencing around my back to eden style garden/ food forest.

But this fencing is SO sturdy compared to my other fence. I absolutely recommend it.

Cattle Panels

You may not consider these a “wire fence” per se but many people use them as an alternative.

I don’t know as much about these, but from what I can tell, they have different size gaps. So you can buy the cattle panels which have gaps spread further apart, or sheep/goat panels with gaps closer together. This is important if you don’t want your animals getting their head stuck.

The cattle panel I found from Tractor Supply is 16′ long and 50″ tall for $22.99. That’s $0.70/ft for a 4′ fence, but I have absolutely no idea how you get a bunch of 16′ panels home.

I would LOVE to try this type of fencing at some point because I LOATHE stretching wire fencing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit in the minivan.

Video Comparison of Fencing Types

Here’s a video rundown of the fencing types and I’ll show you what happens when goats hit welded wire fencing.

Tips for Stretching Wire Fencing

THIS IS MY LEAST FAVORITE JOB. I really can’t tell you a job I hate more than stretching wire fencing. The best bet is to have one or two helpers. One person needs to stretch the wire while the other attaches the wire to the T Post.

A friend of mine rigged their tractor to pull the wire fencing tight while they hooked it to the T Post.

Here’s the deal- I just don’t see a tractor or even heavy pulling by a person NOT tearing apart welded wire fencing… or even chicken wire. If you want to TRULY get the fencing TIGHT and looking nice, go with woven wire/no climb fencing.

You have more freedom for somewhat loose fencing if you’re fencing a small area…. small gardens, chicken runs, etc. Getting it tight is LESS important for these, in my opinion.

When I built my DIY chicken run, I installed most of the fencing myself so it’s fairly loose. It’s hard to tell because it’s tight enough to keep predators out and no large animals are rubbing up against it. It’s just such a small area that the issue isn’t super obvious.

If you are fencing a HUGE garden or pasture for larger animals, you really want to get it TIGHT. You’ll use less fencing that way and you won’t have to constantly be fixing loose fence.

Also a large animal can push against a semi loose fence and make it REALLY loose after a short period of time.

If you don’t do a good job on install, you’ll want to install a hot wire (electric fence wire) along the fence where your animal pushes against it This will hopefully extend the life of your fence by discouraging your animals from pushing into it.

Choosing Posts for Wire Fencing

You need the right posts for your wire fencing too. I love using T Posts. T-posts come in many different heights; just remember that part of the post is buried in the ground.

The other thing to consider for t-posts is durability. You can look at a few different options to see what I mean; some are thicker and heavier. Some are really light weight. I’ve found that the light weight ones don’t last as long. They’re prone to bending.

Personally, I prefer a really heavy duty t-post like this one from Home Depot. We’ve had good luck with these.

You can also use wood posts if you desire.

Even when using primarily T Posts, usually people use wood posts in the corners with another wood post on either side of the corner a short ways away. This provides additional stability. You also need to use wood posts on either side of the gate.

Here’s some tips on digging holes for fences. Some of these tools come in useful for placing T Posts.

Gap Size

You’ll notice that wire fencing will often list the size of the gaps. This is something you need to consider depending on your purpose for the fence.

  • Will your animal get their head or horns stuck inside that size gap?
  • Will the animal you’re trying to keep in/out be able to get their body through the wire?
  • Can the animal you’re trying to keep in/out put a paw through the wire to injure or pull your animals out piece by piece? Raccoons will do this to chickens.

Hacks to Save Money

If you want to save money on wire fencing, but can’t afford a lot of the fencing you need, here are some tips.

  • Buy it used. Sometimes people buy too much and have some to sell. Make sure to check the length and it’s in good condition.
  • Use two different types of wire. I used hardware cloth on the bottom of my chicken coop, but excess welded wire with larger gaps for the top and the ground around the coop.
  • Strategically use electric fencing with your wire fence.

DO NOT buy some items used. I would never buy welded wire fence used. It’s very hard to inspect used wire fencing that’s on a roll and the chances of it being broken in some areas is high.

You MAY be able to find wire fencing that’s ‘new’ but been sitting in someone’s shed. You can tell it hasn’t been opened by how tight it’s wrapped and if there’s pieces of wiring holding the roll closed.

Transportation of Wire Fencing

Regardless of what you buy, you are likely to find wire fencing is heavy and hard to transport… this is particularly true if you’re buying for a large field. Shipping can be expensive, however, depending on the store.

I’ve found that local feed stores MAY offer affordable shipping on some fencing products. In Maryland, we have a place called The Mill that I ordered my gates from. They have reasonable prices and delivery. It’s worth checking with your local farm groups to see if there’s a similar company in your area. We can also buy fence posts from them or from a local lumber company for delivery.

Equipment for Installing Wire Fence

You want a few things when you go to install a wire fence.

#1: Quality Work Gloves

Heavy duty work gloves are a MUST HAVE. You are looking at scraping up your hands and arms otherwise. You may also want a heavy duty apron to prevent catching your clothing.

#2: Something to Cut the Wire

You’ll need something to cut your fencing, and certain types need different products. My husband bought a bolt cutter and it CHANGED MY LIFE. It’s a lot easier to cut metal fencing now. I think this might be the bolt cutter we own.

#3: Brackets or Heavy Duty Zip Ties to Attach it to T Posts

You need to attach the fencing to your T Posts. I have definitely used hay twine (upcycled from hay, of course) to attach fencing temporarily. You can probably see it in my video. It’s not ideal or a good long term solution, particularly if you’re actually pulling your fencing tight.

For longevity, you want metal T post clips, or you can use heavy duty zip ties.

#4: Post Driver

To get your T posts in, a post driver will come in handy and prevent you from ruining other tools if you try to cheat (ask me how I ruined a mallet!).

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