Types of Fencing for Ranches

Ranch fencing must fulfill a couple of different functions.

Wood Rail Horse Fence

Every ranch needs a fence.Every ranch needs a fence.
First, it must establish the borders of the ranch, and second, it must keep livestock from leaving the ranch. Many styles of ranch fencing are available to choose from. Some are designed to prevent large livestock from leaving the ranch---whether through robust design and construction or electrification---while others serve simply as a marker of the extent of the rancher's property.

Wood rail horse fence is a traditional variety of horse fence. It consists of short posts with a single thin rail running in between them. The fence is inexpensive but also rather difficult to maintain. It must be regularly painted and tended to in order to maintain its appearance. If its nails become loose, they can also present a hazard. Additionally, if horses become spooked they will tend to run through the fences and break boards.

Pipe Fence

Pipe fence is a newer type of fence, and is widely used throughout the United States. It consists of pieces of metal piping welded together into posts with three rails running horizontal between them. Unlike wood rail fence, it is extremely expensive to install. However, also unlike wood rail fence, pipe fence requires very little upkeep.

Vinyl or PVC Fence

Vinyl or PVC fence provides many advantages. It is highly visible, very attractive and comes in many different styles and colors. In addition, unlike all other types of ranch fencing, vinyl and PVC fencing requires almost no maintenance after installation. However, the downside is that vinyl or PVC fence is extremely expensive. In addition, unlike other types of fencing, vinyl and PVC is extremely prone to having its rails pop out of their posts when pushed on by horses.

Electric Wire Fence

Electric wire fence, also called "hot wire" fencing, is usually only used as a temporary fence, and is extremely easy and inexpensive to install. One of the major problems with electric wire fence is its lack of durability; wires will tend to fall down, so it is necessary for the rancher to check the wires quite frequently.

Wire Mesh Fence

Wire mesh fencing comes in many different varieties, and is very inexpensive as well as easy to install. Wire mesh fence also poses the lowest threat of injury if a horse were to run into it. The most important concern with wire mesh fence is making sure the holes in the fence are small enough that hooves will not fit through, especially the hooves of colts or foals.

About the Author

Justin Mitchell has been a writer since 2009. In 2002, he received a B.A. in theater and writing from the University of Northern Colorado. Mitchell worked as an ESL teacher in Europe and Asia before earning a master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York. He has written for the "New York Daily News" and WNYC.org, among other outlets.