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How to Install Pasture Fence Posts

Regan Hennessy

Posts serve as your fence's backbone, so proper installation is an essential part of putting in a high-quality, long-lasting pasture fence. But in order to install your fence posts, you must have a clear idea of the kind of pasture fence your animals need, since that affects post selection and placement. Many horse owners opt for permanent board fencing around pastures, while cattle owners frequently stick with barbed wire or high-tensile electric fencing. As a rule, stick with woven wire for a secure, permanent pasture fence that will contain more than one livestock species, such as horses and goats. If you need to, you can subdivide permanent pasture areas with temporary pasture fences using lightweight posts and electric wire, but most perimeter fencing around pastures should consist of sturdier, permanent fencing.

Board horse fences require closely spaced wooden posts.
  1. Clear the fence line, removing weeds and excess grass. For maximum visibility, mow a 3- to 4-foot-wide strip of grass along the entire perimeter of the pasture fence. Hammer metal rebar posts into the ground to mark the corner post locations.

  2. Insert corner posts for your pasture fence, using 8- to 10-foot-long, 8-inch diameter wooden posts for a permanent fence and 6-foot-long steel T-posts for a temporary fence. Dig a 2- to 3-foot-deep hole at the first corner post location for a permanent pasture fence. Place the base of the first wooden post in the hole, stand the post upright and tamp dirt tightly around the base of the post to secure it in place; repeat this process for the remaining wooden corner posts. For a temporary pasture fence, sink steel T-posts 18 inches into the ground with a manual post driver.

  3. Mark the perimeter of the fence. Tie a strand of string or fencing wire around the first corner post. Stretch the string along the perimeter of the fence. Pull the string taut, wrapping it securely around each remaining corner post to provide a tight, straight marking line for bracing and line post placement.

  4. Install brace posts for permanent pasture fencing, which requires the extra support to help the corner posts withstand the long-term pulling from the fencing material. Measure 8 feet out from the first corner post along the marking string; dig a 2-foot-deep post hole at the location. Insert a 6-inch-diameter wooden brace post in the hole, straighten it and backfill soil around it to secure the post into the ground.

  5. Measure 8 inches down from the top of the corner post on the side closest to the brace post and remove a 2-inch-deep notch of wood at this location using a hand axe; repeat this notching process on the near side of the bracing post at the same height. Have a helper hold the 4-inch diameter H-brace post between the corner post and bracing post, rotating it until it's parallel to the ground. Hammer the ends of the H-brace post into the notches on the corner post and bracing post to secure it in place. Repeat the entire H-brace installation process for each fence line that leads to a corner post, which typically translates to two H-brace assemblies per corner post.

  6. Place line posts. Use steel T-posts as line posts for temporary pasture fences, as well as permanent woven-wire, barbed-wire and high-tensile electric fences; sink these posts 12 to 20 inches into the ground on the outside edge of the marking line, placing them in 18- to 40-foot increments, depending upon the type of fencing material. Stick with wooden posts for permanent board pasture fencing, installing them 18 to 24 inches into the ground every 8 to 10 feet, depending upon the length of the boards you plan to use for the fencing.