Adding Cattle for Habitat - Need Advice on old Barbed Wire Fences

We had excellent rains again this year, and our native grass is too thick for our quail and pheasant populations. My patch burns from last fall are even too thick.

I need to add some cattle to improve my habitat. However, my barbed wire fences are in bad shape. I believe they may be 70-100 years old, since my hedge posts in the ground have rotted and there are a few strands of "antique" barbed wire in some of the fence runs.

I do have hedge stays in the fencing at very close spacings, so I believe that if I just pounded in T-posts as needed I could repair most of the fence to a "cattle proof" condition.

The bigger problem is that significant runs of fencing have abundant volunteer trees in the fence line. These are mostly cedars and Siberian Elms. It will take me far more time to clear the trees than it will take to perform the actual fence repairs.

My question for any experts: Is it better to clear the trees and repair the old fences, or move in one tractor width and just run new fences?

If the answer is new fences, is electric the way to go to save time and money? I am in south-central Kansas. My native grasses get to chest and shoulder height every year.

Also, the old fences are in the optimal places. If the recommendation is to preserve that spacing, should I tear out the old fence, then clear trees, then install new fencing? That is more money, but if it saves enough time that could be the better approach.

Thanks, Fishin' Rod
 

McFarmer

Member
If you do new fence go with high tensile wire. Many times I just put up one high tensile wire in front of the old fence, then charge that.
 
If you do new fence go with high tensile wire. Many times I just put up one high tensile wire in front of the old fence, then charge that.
Thanks, McFarmer.

I also like the idea of having the "visual" fence right behind the electric fence. Do you run insulators for your wire off of your existing barbed wire fence posts, or do you run separate posts for your electric?

If separate, which post system did you prefer?
 

haymaker

Active member
Congratulations on putting cattle to work to help your habitat, you are way above average. I agree with high tensile for new fence. I have miles of barbed wire fence that we will maintain but new fence is multi wire high tensile and fiberglass posts There are 1 1/4 inch fiberglass posts that I prefer to steel posts as they make shorts impossible.
 
Haymaker, our land is near the area that is managed by Prairie Drifter. Following actual experts seems to work out well for me in most areas of life!

Our soil is very sandy, especially near the creek. In your experience will the cattle still get a shock when the sandy soils get dry?

Any fence chargers your recommend?

P.S. The only fiberglass posts I see at Tractor Supply are the flimsy ones for dog fences. What is the brand of the ones you use?
 

haymaker

Active member
You will need to ground it very well. Without seeing your property this is a shot in the dark but if you have a creek that is moist put a 6 ft ground rod there. I use multi wire with every other wire hot and the cold wires grounded to the 6 ft ground rod. If you are using a 110 fencer I have had wonderful results with Power Wizard. They are less expensive and as yet I have not had one fail. Parmak 12 volt solar has been good. If you can use 110 that would be the way I would go. I do not know how long of a fence you are building but get a big enough fencer to make a large impression on any animal that touches it. The fiberglass posts are oil field sucker rod and are custom made. If you look around you should be able to find some. They will not be at tractor supply type stores.
 

McFarmer

Member
Thanks, McFarmer.

I also like the idea of having the "visual" fence right behind the electric fence. Do you run insulators for your wire off of your existing barbed wire fence posts, or do you run separate posts for your electric?

If separate, which post system did you prefer?
I used steel “T” posts set about 2 feet in front of the old fence with good quality insulators. I got the fencers from Gallagher, not cheap but they will fix them. Keep the wire far enough away so the deer won’t snag it and put it onto the old fence. The cattle will get the grass underneath. I put the posts 16 paces apart. The wire is hip high.

One thing to remember with high tensile wire, if the wire is hot, it doesn’t have to be tight. If it isn’t hot, it can’t be tight enough. No need to pull the corner posts out of the ground.
 
Haymaker, no wonder I couldn't find your "posts" in the stores! I am an oilfield guy (geologist). I may actually pick up some fiberglass sucker rods for the farm the next time somebody has a junk string. They should be useful for several odd jobs.

I don't have 110 yet at our farm, the electric coop has a serious minimum monthly fee if they have to run a meter for us. I do have some low wet-spots along almost every fence run. I will put the solar chargers and ground rods in those locations.
 
McFarmer, I do have heavy deer traffic on our farm. Three of the old gates are open on our longest E-W fence. In the fall, you can see a deer trail through the grass that goes right through each gate!

I therefore need a little clarification on your fence spacing for deer. My old barbed wire fences are pretty low (just above my hip). If I run a single-wire electric fence 2' inside of the old fence, do you think the deer can still clear that?

P.S. Thanks for the advice on tensioning my wire. I would have been setting heavy corners and trying to crank my electric fence tight like a barbed wire fence. The problem with being a "noob" for any type of new project - is that you don't know what you don't know!
 

McFarmer

Member
Yes the deer will clear it. You just want the electric wire to be tight enough so as to not be able to get hooked on the old fence.
 

haymaker

Active member
Haymaker, no wonder I couldn't find your "posts" in the stores! I am an oilfield guy (geologist). I may actually pick up some fiberglass sucker rods for the farm the next time somebody has a junk string. They should be useful for several odd jobs.

I don't have 110 yet at our farm, the electric coop has a serious minimum monthly fee if they have to run a meter for us. I do have some low wet-spots along almost every fence run. I will put the solar chargers and ground rods in those locations.
The ones I use have holes drilled in them then I use a long cotter pin to fasten the wire to the post. It is impossible to have a short and don't need insulators. When I build new fence this is what I build.
 
Top