Fencing winter view

Get an idea regarding materials needed for the job. That may include deciding what type of fence to build — woven and barbed wire or perhaps multiple strands of high-tensile wire. 

The snow may be flying, but it isn’t too early to start planning for that fence you were thinking about putting up this summer.

This is actually a good time to start looking at your options, according to University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Jim Humphrey.

There are basic questions to be asked. Is this a permanent fence? Is it a perimeter fence that rests on a property line? Do you want to include items such as a corral or gates in specific locations? What type of livestock is being fenced in?

That last question includes whether it is cattle or sheep or some other animal, as well as whether it is going to hold in gentle cows or wilder animals that could cause more fence issues.

“Do your homework ahead of time,” Humphrey says.

Generally speaking, temporary fences are OK within the perimeter, but a permanent fence is better on the perimeter, according to Iowa State University Extension ag engineer Shawn Shouse.

One issue that could come into play if you plan to build a permanent perimeter fence is specific fencing law. Fencing laws vary from state to state. There may even be local ordinances that could impact your decisions. Make it a point to check those laws to make sure what you have planned is legal, Humphrey says.

And if the fence is on a property line it is generally a good idea to talk to the neighboring landowner.

In Iowa, for example, a permanent fence on a property line is the joint responsibility of both landowners. That is different than in most other states.

Liability is a factor that is intertwined with the legal question. If you are trying to decide whether to put a permanent or temporary fence up on a perimeter, consider whether there are concerns about livestock escaping and causing an accident or some other problem.

“Most of us don’t want to tempt our liability insurance,” Humphrey says.

These are all tasks that can be done while the temperature and calendar are telling us fencing season is a long time away.

Another thing that can be done now is to contact a fencing company to get an idea regarding materials needed for the job. That may include deciding what type of fence to build — woven and barbed wire or perhaps multiple strands of high-tensile wire. You might want to decide whether or not to electrify the fence, and, if so, what type of system will work best for you, Shouse says.

You could also try to get an idea of the cost of the project.

Once the calendar and the weather say it is time to get to work on actually putting up fence, there is at least one other thing that needs to be done. Permanent fence posts require deep holes, and that means you need to call your one-call service regarding possible buried lines. Each state has its own number. Give them a call and allow time for them to be able to come out to your property and mark the location of any buried lines or pipes, Humphrey says. That one move can save a lot of headaches.

Finally, once the fence is in place, Humphrey says it is important to take care of it. Keep it cleaned and clear of debris and undergrowth. That will extend the life of the fence.

Gene Lucht is public affairs editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.