Which fencing to use is dependant on what livestock is going to be stocked. There is a range of fencing materials so we will try and make sense of the options in this article.
Creosote vs Permapine
The first question is post type. Rural fences are typically built using pine posts. Strainers at each end of a run are typically 6-8inch and allow straining (tightening) of the fencing material. Between the strainers the fence posts are typically 4-5 inch and are used to make the fenceline and stop the material from drooping between the strainers.
Tot put pine in the ground and out in the elements requires treatment, which for rural fencing comes down to creosote and CCA (permapine). Permapine is a cheaper alternative however it tends to degrade more quickly and animals can eat it, especially if holding horses. Permapine is banned in some states due to the leaching into the soil. Creosote is a little more expensive, however it holds up longer and animals do not like to eat it.
As long as farms have been fenced in Australia, barbed wire has been a standard for keeping animals in paddocks. Barbed wire is effective on animals with a hide. The downside of barbed wire comes to when an animal is particular keen to go through a fence it will cause sever damage to the animal. Suitable for cattle, but not recommended for nervous animals like horses.
Plain Wire Electric
For animals that are more sensitive to barb wire injuries, electric fencing is a great alternative. Fences can be anything from 2 wire to 8 wire depending on budget and requirements and can have a various mixes of electrified and grounded wires. Typically boundary fences will be 5 or 6 wire and internal fencing can be 4 wire. Electric fencing is great for properties keeping horses and cattle in the same paddocks.
Crosslock / Gridlock
Animals like sheep or goats not get the desired effect from barbed wire or electric fencing when they have a thick woolen coat. So they need a more physical barrier . The small squares in the crosslock fencing mean there is no space for animals to escape like in plain wire fencing. Crosslock can be used for sheep as well as cattle but it is not suitable for more nervous animals like horses as they can get caught in the fence and de-gloving of the leg is a common injury with this type of fencing.
If sheep and horses are kept in the same paddocks, or for horse breeders, or if you just have a lot of money to get rid of, then wire mesh is a suitable material. It is the same concept as Corsslock / Grid Lcok however the smaller holes mean hooves can not get through so the danger of de-gloving is reduced significantly.
There is a vast array of mesh types including a horse mesh that is a V design which further reduces the change of hooves getting through.
Mix of Materials
Often a mix of materials are used to make a fence work effectively. For example Crosslock and Barbed wire can be used to make paddocks suitable for sheep and cattle. Or it is possible to use Crosslock or barbed wire on fences with horses, and then run electric wire using offsets. This keeps the horses away for the fence to reduce the chance of fence striking.
Spacing of fencing posts is dependent on materials and purpose. The closer the spacing the strong the physical barrier of the fence is. Fencing that expects physical pressure from animals leaning on the fence require closer spacing. However electric fences with horses can be spaced out further up to about 8m. As fence posts are a significant cost component the spacing of posts affects the fence costs.
To reduce the cost of fencing, star droppers were often used to increase the number of “posts” but reduce the number of timber posts that required knocking in. Currently the price difference between installing wooden posts and star droppers is minimal and the dangers of star droppers have seen a decline in this type of fencing.
Star Droppers are also used for temporary fencing such as with strip grazing as they can be knocked in by hand and removed relatively easily.