A star picket is a type of metal fence post having three cross sections in the shape of a “Y”. Therefore, they are sometimes referred to as Y-posts. Used primarily for wire type fences such as barbed wire, high tensile wire, welded wire fence and woven wire fence.
One end of the post will have a tapered point. The pointed end helps the post cut through tree roots and break through rocks while driving.
The top side of a star picket will have a flat end. Perfect for driving with a sledge hammer or a post hole driver.
Each post has pre-drilled holes in one of the cross sections. As a result, providing locations for strands of high tensile wire as well as fence ties and clips.
Star Picket Lengths and Sizes
Star pickets come in a variety of lengths and sizes. As a result, accommodating a wide spectrum of fence types and heights. Post lengths are available as short as 18″ and as long as 8′ in length.
Shorter lengths are good for fencing around gardens or for shorter height fences such as those used for containing smaller animals. Longer length posts are better for tall fences such as deer fence.
The steel used to manufacture a star picket is also comes in different sizes. Standard sizes are between 2 millimeters and 6 millimeters thick.
The thickness of the post needed is based on what it is you are fencing. There is no need to use a heavy post when fencing in a garden. However, when fencing in livestock, the thicker post provides a much stronger solution.
Star Picket Coatings
Manufacturers use low carbon steel to make star pickets. As a result, they are less prone to rusting. However, coating the posts protects them even more.
Hot dipped galvanized and black bitumen painted are the most common coatings. Galvanized are better for areas where corrosion is high. Such as, fences located near costal regions or for fences located near highways that get salt in the winter months.
Bitumen is a tar like flexible coating. When applied to fence posts, it creates a waterproof barrier. Therefore, extending the life of an already durable star picket.
Star Picket Installation
Installing a star picket 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 is the way to go. The type of fence installed will help determine the distance between each post.
For wire strand fences like barbed wire and 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. Especially when holding in farm animals.
The type of soil the posts are installed in also effects the length of the posts. For soft or loose soil, the deeper the post is below grade, the stronger it will be.
It is recommended to set posts 24″ deep for fences up to 48″ tall in height. For taller fences, choose a star picket that is long enough to drive the post 30″ – 36″ deep. When the ground is very hard or rocky, sometimes 18″ will be deep enough to support the fence.
Horses and cattle like to rub on fences. Therefore, posts set a deeper depths will have more integrity. In areas where post cannot be driven to adequate depths, a hot wire or a single strand of barbed wire discourages rubbing.
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, they are more resistant to rotting and termites.
They are commonly found in New Zealand and Australia. However, they are becoming more 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.