Electric Fence High-Tensile Woven Wire
Why do we suggest woven, smooth and barbed wire fences—not just all HT smooth wires?
When high-tensile (HT) smooth wire fences were introduced to the US 30 years ago they were touted by New Zealand “experts” as the answer to nearly all permanent fence situations.
Over time Premier (on our farm) and others who installed it elsewhere learned:
- That smaller livestock (goats, sheep, calves, pigs) could, if they wanted to, go through all smooth wire fences—even if they were well electrified.
- With each passing year after an all-HT smooth wire fence is built, it becomes more difficult to keep such fences adequately electrified in the hot, humid “green-grass” areas of the US. The vegetation grows quickly and is too lush, tall and damp. It simply drains the energy from the fence.
- That New Zealand sheep farmers themselves actually use a combination of woven and smooth wire fences.
- All-HT smooth wire fences and horses can be a dangerous combination.
Why didn’t Premier offer (and use) all 3 initially?
Because we believed the “experts” also. And HT woven wire and quality barbed wire weren’t available. They are now.
Should I buy HT wire products locally or from Premier?
If the item is the same in all respects, buy wherever it’s less expensive to you. Some of Premier’s wires have features that aren’t always available locally. Examples: wires with higher rust resistance; woven wire with 9-inch spacings; barbed wire with more aggressive barbs; attractive and innovative wire colors (e.g. GreenCote).
About GreenCote® woven, smooth and barbed wire…
We noted that the Europeans were adding a colored polymer coating to their HT farm fences. The result appeared natural, attractive and distinctive. Even more important the coating extends a wire’s resistance to rust by up to 300%.
We imported and installed these on our farm using a mix of woven, smooth, barbed and energized wires. The combination has worked well. A key benefit for sheep and goat producers is that GreenCote woven is available with verticals every 9 inches—so it’s not as likely to entrap animal heads.
Why HT woven is better…
- Line posts can be spaced farther apart (our norm is 22 ft). So that means fewer posts to buy/install and less time and work. So the completed fence costs less.
- Resists rust longer. Why? Class III galvanizing. (GreenCote resists rust much longer still. How? Due to a polymer coating added to Class III galvanizing.)
- More elasticity. It lengthens when hit by livestock, falling trees, snow or ice—and retensions itself automatically.
- Normal woven wire often has verticals every 6 in. which can entrap sheep/goat heads. Woven wire with 9 in. vertical spacings does not have this problem.
Woven wire numbering system
It’s a universal system used by all manufacturers. “8/32/9” woven wire has:
- 8 horizontal wires.
- A top-to-bottom height of 32 inches.
- A vertical wire every 9 inches.
How to tension it?
It’s essential to use steel straining clamps. Folks who try to use homemade wooden clamps often run into problems with wire slippage in the clamp. We attach one end of the woven wire to an end post; then attach a clamp near the opposite end post. We use a tractor to pull the clamp past the end post before stapling the wire to the post and tying it off. Stretch it until just pass “taut.”
Vertical spacing—3, 6, 9 or 12"?
Woven wire with 6 in. verticals was the fence on our farm. So we know well that it’s prone to entrapping sheep and goat heads. Now we use woven wire with verticals every 9 in. Woven wire fences with 12 in. vertical spacing is less $$ to purchase and easier to install. It will stop cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and guard dogs—but offset hot wires are required. Coyotes, baby lambs and goat kids are still likely to penetrate it. When we need closer spacing we opt for 3 in. (available elsewhere). It stops nearly all livestock (including offspring) and their predators. But we still add an offset hot wire to keep animals from climbing or rubbing against the fence (common with haired animals in spring).
Which gauge—11 or 12.5?
Mild steel fence was larger (11 gauge). But HT wire and Class III galvanizing enabled the smaller 12.5 g. wire to provide the same strength and durability against rust for less cost per ft per mile.
HT wire, modern energizers, durable insulators and quality accessories have changed the face of fencing. Initially, HT smooth wire’s potential was oversold. As a result sheep and goat owners (including Premier) ended up with smooth wire fences that failed to consistently turn livestock. But we’re “smarter” now. A key advantage of HT wire is its “memory.” Once installed and stretched properly it remains taut as it contracts in the winter cold and expands in the summer heat. To do this, the fence needs serious end and corner posts with strong brace assemblies. Line posts can be spaced 40 ft apart if the terrain is level enough to allow this. (Regrettably it usually isn’t.)
- Needs only half as many line posts in flat terrain.
- Low cost per ft. It’s the least costly conductor per year of use.
- So strong that it cannot be broken by wildlife, livestock or falling trees.
- Requires little maintenance. If a tree falls on it, the wires spring back to their original length after the tree is removed.
- Not visible to “flighty” animals like deer, antelope and horses.
- Not recommended for horse fences.
- Requires a special wire dispenser and connectors to splice and terminate.
- Requires extra strong end/corner posts.
- May not contain sheep or goats on its own during weaning/breeding even if electrified. (HT woven is better for this.)
- As an “anti-dig” wire under fences to deter coyotes, dogs, foxes and pigs. It’s ideal for this role due to its “nasty” barbs. Place it 1 in. above the soil “line” and 2 in. below all upper wires The benefits of “barbed” at soil level are:
- Keeps smooth or woven wire up and out of the damp grass—reducing their risk of rust.
- Allows woven wire to stay above the debris/soil that would otherwise fall against it and slowly pull it down.