Cattle behind a fence on Texas ranch

Every landowner uses their property in a unique way. But one thing is the same across the board: proper fencing around your property is paramount.

Whether you raise livestock, tend crops, host game, or simply live on the land, you need to have proper fencing to enclose the property so everyone and every animal stays safe.

This is a short guide that will help you get started on fencing your Texas property:

Selecting the Right Fence

With so many options, it’s hard to know which type of fencing is the best for you. When selecting the right fence, you need to consider several different factors, including its purpose, cost, and upkeep, just to name a few.

Wood Fencing

wooden fence on texas ranchWooden fencing is a traditional choice that is extremely attractive and easily customizable to fit your needs. Since you can paint wooden fencing any color that you want, it is arguably the most sightly fencing option. It’s also quite durable and is able to withstand severe weather changes.

The thick wood of this fencing is visible to livestock, making this type of fencing an ideal option for pastures and horse farms.

This type of fencing isn’t the best option for small livestock, like chickens or sheep, as they run the risk of escaping through the large gaps. To prevent this from happening, though, you can add wire in between the wood slats.

The downfall of wooden fencing is that its upkeep is quite extensive and expensive. Eventually, the wood will need to be repainted and perhaps even replaced as it rots and weakens. In addition, weather changes can cause nails to loosen and so they require re-hammering into the wood.

High Tensile Polymer (HTP)

High Tensile Polymer railing is a low maintenance alternative to wooden fencing. It has a similar appearance to wood, but it comes in a wide variety of colors that makes it customizable to your farm. Other customizations include making it electric if that best suits your needs.

Since it can withstand weather fluctuations and does not splinter as its wooden counterpart does, making this is a great option for livestock and horse owners. You also do not run as high of a risk of injury with this cost-effective fence.

Vinyl Fencing

Much like HTP fencing, Vinyl looks like wooden fencing and comes in just as many colors. These long-lasting rails are meant to endure heavy use for years and do not require the same upkeep as wooden fences.

One thing to note is that the vinyl rails can pop out of the fencing if too much weight is placed on it, so property owners oftentimes add electrical wire to the fence in order to deter livestock from leaning on it.

Barbed Wire Fencing

barbed wire fencingPrimarily used for cattle, this inexpensive fencing option utilizes sharp metal components that protrude from the wire fence to keep animals from leaning against it or going near it.

Though this type of fencing is fine for cattle, it’s not recommended for horses as the barbs can injure them. It’s probably not best to use barbed wire for rearing sheep either because their wool gets caught on the barbs.

If wire along is not sturdy enough for your uses, it can be added to other types of fencing as an added deterrent.

Woven Wire

Woven wire fencing can be used on its own to enclose land or livestock, or it can be added to other types of fencing to add to its durability.

As it is not as strong as wood or wood alternative fencing, it needs to be replaced often. That being said, it is priced much lower than wooden fencing for this reason.

Consider your Budget

One of the major determining factors of choosing a fence is its cost. If you have acres upon acres of land, fencing can be a costly endeavor, so it’s important to know all of the different price ranges.

Although wooden fencing is the most popular for its traditional style and beauty, it’s possibly one of the most expensive options--not only for labor and materials, but for upkeep. Wooden fences need regular painting and upkeep because they are susceptible to weather damage. Up front, you’re likely to pay anywhere from $13-$20 per foot.

HTP fencing is far less expensive than wooden fencing, especially since it requires less regular maintenance. Installing HTP fencing can cost anywhere from $11-$19 per foot.

Vinyl fencing is one of the cheapest options if you’re looking for fencing that’s similar in style to wood. Even though this option is inexpensive, in the long run it requires tons of maintenance and repairs which increases its cost.

If you are not considering any type of board fencing, then mesh and wire are fantastic, inexpensive options that are sure to keep your livestock in and potential predators out.

Determine the Location

Rancher looking over horses from fench on Texas ranchWhere you need fencing depends on what your goal is.

If you’re fencing-in livestock, then make sure the fencing is around the pasture or perimeter of the property. Basically, you’ll want to install it all around the land where the livestock will be.

Fencing around the perimeter of your property is crucial if you’re keeping game and predators out of your property.

Otherwise, choosing where to put fencing is a personal decision that has to work for you and your property. Every landowner has a unique scenario, so there is no wrong place to put it.

No matter what your needs are, there are a multitude of fencing options that can match those needs. Check out some of the related links below for more resources on fencing options for your property.

Fencing Laws in Texas: Understanding Your Obligations

In general, there is no common law duty for landowners to control or restrict the movement of their livestock in Texas.

However, duties to control the movement of livestock can be imposed by individual counties.

Furthermore, ranchers can be held liable for damages resulting from roaming cattle based on only slight evidence of negligence.

For an interesting case study, read this account of a ruling against a rancher whose bull strayed onto a highway.

As this case demonstrates, it's important to understand your legal obligations regarding fencing and securing your property. Make sure to research your local laws and regulations. 

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