A combination woven-wire and barbed wire fence. Photo from Bekaert Fencing.

For most farmers and ranchers, building fence is not the most desirable job they do – so when they build a fence they want it to last. Fencing expert Steven Sarson offers a few tips to make a well-built and long lasting fence. This regional sales manager for Bekaert Fencing has worked in the fencing industry for over two decades. A large part of his workweeks are spent hosting fencing workshops and seminars for fencing contractors and livestock producers.

Before purchasing supplies for a new fencing project, Sarson says time should be taken to consider the purpose of the fence. In a news release from Bekaert, he explains it should be determined what type of livestock will be kept in or what type of wildlife will be kept out. Also, consideration should be given to the stocking densities.

“Depending on stocking densities, a fence is either a physical barrier or a boundary,” he noted.

There are three components to keep in mind when constructing a fence, according to Bekaert:

Brace structure

The brace, according to Sarson, is the heart and soul of the fence. A well-built brace can absorb 6,000 pounds of pressure, but if not properly constructed, the brace will fail, as will the entire fence.

He emphasizes when using wood posts to use round posts and not square posts. Round posts, with all the growth rings intact, have the strength of the tree.

“Those growth rings that make that tree stand strong, will do the same for the fence,” he said.

Square posts aren’t desirable. They are susceptible to rot and are not as strong because they are either made of heartwood, which will not absorb treatment or include only partial growth rings. Depending on terrain, availability and preference, welded pipe braces are also a viable option.

Finally, he recommends using brace pins instead of notching the wood posts to hold the brace together.


Using high-tensile wire increases the longevity of a fence and reduces the cost per foot. The greater the tensile strength, the smaller gauge, the lighter the weight and more flexible the steel, which reduces cost per roll, risk of sag and number of fence posts needed to complete the project, Sarson noted.

Line post tips

The best made fences use one round, wood post to every four metal T-posts. He stressed to not scrimp when it comes to accessories such as brace pins and T-posts. After investing the time to construct a good brace, it only makes sense to invest in accessories that will hold up as long as the brace.

The distance between posts can vary according to the stocking rate, terrain and type of fence. However, every dip and rise in the terrain need a post. Fastening high spots first will make it easier to achieve adequate tension in the fence. Never hard-staple – leave enough room between the staple and the post so that the wire can move freely. This allows the wire to flex if an animal pushes against the fence and reduces the risk of sag and applies pressure to the brace instead of the post.

For more information on fencing go to the Bekaert website at www.fencing.bekaert.com. On the website you’ll find brace specs, installation videos, and a list of the fencing products offered by Bekaert, as well as a list of dealers handing those products. As a special feature, there is an “Ask the Pro” option that allows you to ask Sarson and other fence pros advice for your project.

This might just take some of the drudgery out of your next fencing project.