A star picket is a type steel fence post having three cross sections in the shape of a “Y”. Sometimes referred to as a Y-post. Used primarily for wire type fences like barbed wire, high tensile wire, welded wire fence and woven wire fence.
One end of a star picket or Y-post has a tapered point. This helps the steel fence posts cut through tree roots and break through rocks while driving.
The top of star pickets have flat ends. Perfect for driving with a sledge hammer or post driver.
Each post has pre-drilled holes in one of the cross sections. Providing locations for strands of high tensile wire or fence ties and clips. This sets them apart from a round post.
Star Picket and Y-Post Lengths and Sizes
Star pickets come in many lengths and sizes. As a result, accommodating a wide spectrum of fence types and heights. Post lengths come as short as 18″ and as long as 8′.
Shorter star pickets are good for fencing gardens or shorter fences such as those for smaller animals. Longer length star pickets are better for tall fences like deer fence.
Steel used to manufacture a star picket comes in different sizes. Standard sizes are between 2 millimeters and 6 millimeters thick.
The thickness of the steel fence posts required is based on what you are fencing. No need to use a heavy post when fencing a garden. However, when fencing livestock, thicker star pickets provide a stronger solution.
Coating Types for Star Pickets
Manufacturers use low carbon steel for star pickets. As a result, they are less prone to rusting. However, coating the posts offers more protection.
Hot dipped galvanized and black bitumen painted are common coatings for star pickets. Galvanized are better for areas of high corrosion. Such as, fences near costal regions or near highways that get salted in winter.
Bitumen is tar like flexible coating. When applied to star pickets or a Y-post, it creates a waterproof barrier. Therefore, extending the life of an already durable steel fence post.
Star Picket and Y-Post Installation
Installing a star picket or Y-post is easy. They pound into the ground. A sledge hammer will work. However, a post driver works better.
When driving lots of posts, a pneumatic or gas powered driver works better. The type of fence installed helps determine the distance between posts.
For wire strand fences like barbed or high tensile wire, larger spans of 15 to 25 feet are acceptable between posts. For woven wire type fence, 8′ to 10′ apart is more common spacing for star pickets.
Soil Type Matters
The type of soil where posts are installed effects the length of the posts. For soft or loose soil, the deeper the post is below grade, the stronger it is.
It is recommended to set posts 24″ deep for fences up to 48″ tall. For taller fences, choose a star picket long enough to drive the post 30″ – 36″ deep. When the ground is very hard or rocky, sometimes installing your star pickets 18″ is deep enough to support the fence.
Horses and cattle like to rub fences. Therefore, posts set at deeper depths will have more integrity. In areas where posts cannot be driven to adequate depths, a hot wire or single strand of barbed wire discourages rubbing.
Final Thoughts about Y-Posts and Star Pickets
A Star picket or Y-post is a strong and durable fence post for farming and agriculture. Easy to install, they are inexpensive and long lasting. When compared to wood fence posts, star pickets are more resistant to rotting or termites.
Commonly found in New Zealand and Australia, they are becoming increasingly popular with farmers and ranchers in the United States.
For information on other type of fences used for farming and ranches, read our Wood Farm Fence Designs and Styles article.