New farmers: How to build cattle fencing right the first time

Livestock farmer Tumelo Olifant, a Bonsmara farmer in North West, shares some of his tips on how to build cattle fencing that will last

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There are lots of reasons why you would want to build a fence on your farm, from separating properties, keeping your animals in and out of certain areas, and for security. But whatever reason you might be building a fence for, you need to ensure that you do it well.

Livestock farmer Tumelo Olifant, a Bonsmara farmer in North West, shares some of his tips on how to build cattle fencing that will last. From choosing the material, to height and length, to top tips on gate size and structure, here’s all you need to know about building a cattle fence that will last.

Dona Van Eeden: What should you keep in mind when starting to build a cattle fence?

Tumelo Olifant: When you start, you use what is available. In most cases the only thing you can buy is wire, either barbed or not, double or single, the price margin (difference) is not a lot, then use wood for poles.

How to build cattle fencing
When planning your fence, you have to keep in mind what the purpose of the fence is. Photo: Supplied

Likely the new wires are galvanized and they will last long. Then you can set goals to buy Y-standard ysterpale (iron rods) and use them instead of wood. At a later stage you can then remove your corner wood poles.

Farmer’s tip: Use local

Most importantly use local guys to help as this is you employing someone, it is not a lot but it is a start.

Where we farm there are guys that specialise in fencing, so use them and pick their brains. These guys are smart – they will weld steel and make poles for you with what you have available, later on they will be your maintenance guys.

What should the height of the fence be?

When fencing your camps or your kraal, the important thing you need to realise is the purpose and the type of animal you want behind the fence. Once this is decided, then you can start building your fence.

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For me, as a mixed farmer with cattle and sheep, the spacing in-between (the wires) plays a role as well as the height of the fence.

My fence is 1.6m high and spacing in-between is about 50-60cm with six lines of barbed wire double string.

Farmer’s tip on the spacing of poles

When spacing from a corner pole to other ones, every 20 meters I put a strong trekpaal (direct pull pole). Then I use Y-standard or H-standard ysterpale (iron rods). When H-standard are a bit pricy, I opt for Y-standard poles.

How to build cattle fencing
Iron might be a bit more expensive but if you live in an area prone to veld fires, choosing iron over wood might pay off in the long run. Photo: Supplied
What material is best: wood or iron?

I personally use steel, which I would advise all farmer to use. The advantage of it is in our area we experience veld fires. Now if your corner and in-between poles are wood, that means you are then only left with wire without poles. Steel survives fires.

Lastly, what about the gates in the fence?

Gates should be accessible for a bakkie and trucks. Sometimes you come with a trailer and need to make a U-turn, so your gate must be able to open both in and out of the farm to suit what you need to do that time.

ALSO READ: ‘Be consistently passionate,’ advises North West cattle farmer

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