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  • Wire Fence Guide – What You Need To Know

Wire fence is a broad term that encompasses different types of fence. However, they all have the same thing in common. They all contain some form of wire.

Farms, ranches and large properties all use wire fence. The primary function is keeping animals and livestock secure.

The intended use of the fence will determine what type you will need. In this article, we’ll review the four most common types of wire fence.

Types of Wire Fencing

There are many types of wire fence. Welded wire fence, woven wire fence, high tensile fence and barbed wire fence are the most common. Each type has advantages as well as disadvantages over the others.

Some types are better for large amounts of linear footage due to being more cost effective. Other types are better for keeping smaller farm animals secure.

The topography of the land fenced will also influence what type of fence you choose. Let’s dive in and take a look at each one!

Welded Wire Fence

welded wire mesh
Galvanized Welded Wire Fence

Vertical and horizontal strands of wire welded together form welded wire fence. Standard mesh sizes of 2″ x 3″ or 2″ x 4″ form rectangular patterns.

Welded perpendicular to each other, the strands form perfect right angles. As a result, it does not flow over uneven terrain very well. Therefore, making it better suited for flat open fields and pastures.

However, its thinner gauge wire does not work well for larger animals like cows and horses. Also, it does not stretch very well like the other types of wire fence. Standard heights start at 36″ tall and go up to 96″ tall.

Woven Wire Fence

woven wire fence for livestock
Woven Wire Fence on T Posts

Much like welded wire, woven wire fence is constructed from vertical and horizontal strands of wire. However, a special knot ties the intersecting points together in place of a weld. This knot allows woven wire to flow over rolling hills and terrain much better.

The strands of wire used are also thicker. As a result, allowing woven wire fence to stretch tighter over longer lengths without breaking.

There are multiple mesh sizes available. For fencing in smaller animals, use 2″ x 4″ and 4″ x 4″ mesh size. The 2″ x 4″ No Climb mesh is an excellent and safe solution for horses.

Wider spaced mesh patterns are available for larger animals like cattle. Graduated mesh pattens are available that start off small at the bottom of the fence with spacing between the strands growing larger after each row.

Standard heights start at 48″ tall and go up to 96″ tall.

High Tensile Fence

high tensile farm and field fence
A High Tensile Farm Fence

High tensile fence uses a special type of wire that won’t break under high tension. The height of the fence will determine how many strands it has.

The amount of space between each strand will also be a factor. 5 or 6 strands are common.

High tensile fence is great for fencing large tracts of land or long distances. The bottom strand does not make contact with the ground. As a result, it installs well over the most uneven or hilly ground.

Sometimes a strand or two will be electrified in order to prevent animals from rubbing against the fence. It is easy to install and relatively affordable as compared to other types of wire fence.

Barbed Wire Fence

close up of barbs
4 Point Barbed Wire Strands on T Posts

Installing barded wire fence is just like high tensile fence. However, there are two primary differences. Firstly, a strand of barbed wire uses two smaller strands of wire instead of one.

Secondly and most obvious, it has sharp barbs on it. 5 and 6 strand configurations work best. Used to keep livestock contained, the barbs prevent persuasive animals from rubbing against or pushing through the fence.

As a result, barbed wire works well when electrifying the fence is not an option due to lack of a power source.

It flows over uneven terrain well. Easy to install, many ranchers and farmers tackle installation themselves. Cost effective, barbed wire is great for large parcels of land.

What about posts?

Fence posts hold the fence upright. All four types of fences discussed use the same posts. Or at least a variation of the post options.

Often made from wood, end, corner and gate posts are more stout and larger diameter. The next post in line will be brace posts. Brace posts tie into the end, corner and gate posts with a horizontal member called the brace. The combination of these two wooden fence posts will hold the tension caused by stretching the wire fence.

Line posts make up the rest of the posts. Wood and metal are the most popular materials. Line post spacing is determined by how tall the fence will be and what you are trying to keep secure. Common line post spacing is 8′, 10, or 12′ on center.

Some high tensile and barbed wire fences however, have spacing of up to 25′ on center for lighter duty installations.

Wood Posts

Round wooden fence post
4″ Round Wood Post

Many installations of wire fence use wooden posts. Wooden fence posts can be round or square. The size and spacing of the posts is determined by the style of fence you are installing and what its used for.

A special machine called a post driver drives wooden posts into the ground. Sometimes wood posts are concreted into the ground. However, concrete is not needed for most installations. Not to mention, concrete will drive the cost of the fence installation up higher.

Round wood posts come in different diameters. Lines posts are normally 3.5″ to 5″ in diameter. The end, corner and gate posts can be 6″ – 8″ in diameter.

A horseshoe nail attaches the fence to wood posts. Wood posts are great for extra strength and permanent fence installs.

Metal T-Posts and Star Pickets

Metal T post driven into ground
Galvanized Metal T Post

Metal T-posts and star pickets are an affordable option for wire fence installations. They are easy to install with a simple post driver or sledgehammer.

Most metal T-posts and star pickets are painted. However, galvanized is an option. The metal posts last a long time. Therefore, there is no need to worry about rotting or decaying.

A fence tie or clip is used to attach the wire fence to a metal post. Because they are affordable, metal T-posts and star pickets are used for longer fence lines. They are also used when the fenced in location or area won’t be permanent.

A Combination of Both

A combination of both wood posts and metal posts will provide advantages of both types of posts. The wood posts are stronger and better suited to hold the weight of the stretch. Often used for and end post or corner post.

The metal T-posts and star pickets are more cost effective and easier to install. As a result, you have a strong install while saving some costs.

A normal installation using both posts would have wood posts between multiple metal posts. Wood posts are set anywhere from 50 – 100 feet apart with the remaining posts being the metal posts.


Wire fences are great for covering large areas like fields and pastures. Perfect for containing cattle or horses. They are affordable and easy to install. Therefore, most property owners have no problem installing one themselves.

You now know the types of wire fences and what they are for. As a result, you are armed with the knowledge to choose the best one that will suits your needs.

To learn more about other types of pasture fence, view our article on wood farm fence designs and styles.

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