Fencing costs are one of the most expensive aspects of livestock grazing. The type of fence constructed greatly impacts the cost per foot, total cost, and annual ownership cost. In addition, the shape of the paddocks affects the amount of materials needed and labor required for construction of the fence.
This publication compares the costs of building a quarter-mile (1,320 feet) straight perimeter fence with four different types of permanent fencing plus temporary interior fencing. These are: woven wire, barbed wire, high-tensile non-electric, high-tensile electrified and temporary interior fencing.
The type of fencing selected varies by personal choice and the species of livestock to be confined. In general all configurations shown can be used with cattle, woven wire and high-tensile electrified can be used with sheep, and woven wire can be used with hogs.
The list of materials needed for each type of fencing is from Costs of Cattle Fencing for Grazing Areas (see references at the end of the article). Costs were adjusted to 2011 prices provided by a number of Iowa retailers, although prices may vary. Labor was valued at $15.05 per hour for woven wire and $16.25 per hour for barbed wire, the average fence building custom charges reported in AgDM File A3-10, 2011 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey. These charges include the cost of equipment and tools for building fence, as well as labor. Gates are not included in the estimates.