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How to Stretch a Field Fence

Regan Hennessy

Field fence (also called woven-wire fence) uses interlocking, flexible wire strands to contain a variety of livestock. Over- or under-stretched field fence weakens and sags quickly. Correctly stretched field fence can typically last 20 to 25 years with basic yearly maintenance. According to Gail Damerow, author of "Fences for Pasture and Garden," installing a dummy post (a post used for pulling the wire tight) provides an easy way to stretch a woven wire fence. Make sure all your wooden corner and line posts are planted firmly at least 2 feet into the ground before you stretch your field fence.

Use a sturdy chain with your come-along to stretch your field fence tightly.
  1. Lay the roll of field fence flat on the ground at one of the corner posts and unroll it completely along the first straight stretch of fence posts. Pull the end of the field fence up against the first corner post, positioning the base of the wire approximately 1 to 2 inches from the ground. Wrap the horizontal wires on the fence completely around the corner post, and then wrap the wires back on themselves 5 to 3 times. Hammer each horizontal stay to the corner post with 1 ½-inch fencing staples to further secure the woven wire fence in place.

  2. Walk to the corner post at the other end of the unrolled field fence. Measure 8 feet straight beyond the corner post, marking that location with spray paint. Dig a 2-foot-deep hole at the marked location with a clam shell post hole driver and insert an 8-foot-long post into the hole to serve as your dummy post. Pound the dirt around the dummy post with a tamping rod to secure it in place.

  3. Clip the woven wire gripper tool around the bottom horizontal wire in your woven wire fence. Wrap the heavy-duty chain around the dummy post approximately 2 to 3 inches above the ground and loop both ends through the hook on the end of the cable come-along. Connect the main hook on the come-along to the loop on the back of the fence gripper tool.

  4. Ratchet the come-along tighter, rotating the handle repeatedly to shorten the come-along cable, which pulls the fence wire tighter. Gradually tighten the bottom horizontal wire until about 1/3 of the height of the tensioning curves (the small bumps located every few feet on each horizontal wire in your field fence) in the wire have straightened out. Avoid stretching the fence to the extent that all the tensioning curves become completely flat.

  5. Secure the stretched horizontal wire to the corner post with a 1½-inch fencing staple. Loosen the come-along to release the extra length of the bottom horizontal wire. Repeat this stretching process to each horizontal wire in your field fence.

  6. Use wire cutters to remove the excess field fence length. Leave enough extra wire beyond the corner post for you to be able to wrap the horizontal wires completely around the corner post and back on itself just as you did for the original corner post. Repeat this entire dummy post installation and stretching process for each straight stretch of field fence that you need to install.