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Barbed Wire Fencing
Steel barbs were attached every 10–20 cm. Barbs had either two or four points, with the two point design using somewhat heavier and longer barbs.
The relative merits of two point vs. four point barbed wire are the subject of deeply held views among many farmers and ranchers, to the extent that both types are still made today.
Typically four strands of barbed wire, with the lowest strand no more than 12 inches (300 mm) from the ground and the top strand at least 48 inches above the ground, make up a legal fence in the western United States. Better-quality fences have five strands, older fences often had only three strands, and just two strands is widely used in Britain if only adult cattle are being contained. Other variations exist, depending on local laws and the purpose of the fence.
Barbed wire is particularly effective for containing cattle. In pastures containing both cattle and sheep, one or two strands of barbed wire is used in conjunction with woven wire to both discourage cattle from reaching over the top of a fence and to keep sheep from crawling under. Though often used in many areas for horses, barbed wire is not advised; its use is considered poor management. There is very high risk of injury occurring when a thin-skinned, fast-moving animal with long legs runs into it or puts a leg through the strands.
High Tensile Fencing
A special hard, springy steel wire that was introduced in the 1970's and has slowly gained acceptance. The wire may be a single strand plain or barbed wire, or woven mesh, and is capable of much higher tension than mild steel.
It permits the use of wider post spacing's and is neither stretched easily by animals, nor by fallen trees or branches. It can be insulated and electrified. Because of the wide spacing of the posts, thin metal or wood spacers (or "droppers") may be attached to the wires between posts to maintain their spacing.
Joining HT wire is difficult because of its stiffness and its reduction in strength when bent sharply. However, it may be joined effectively with proprietary clips. HT wire is more expensive than mild steel, but because of the need for fewer posts, the overall cost of the fencing is usually comparable.
Because it does not stretch, animals are less likely to become entangled in HT wire. However, for the same reason, if an animal does become entangled or runs into a few strands at a high speed, it can be deadly, and is sometimes referred to as having a "cheese slicer" effect on the animal.
Trellising for horticultural purposes is generally constructed from HT wire as it is able to withstand a higher crop load without breaking or stretching.
Woven Wire Fencing
Identifiable by wire "knots" wrapped around each intersecting wire. Cheaper forms of wire used in residential fences are often spot welded at junctions and as such are less sturdy and may break, creating a hazard for enclosed animals. Woven wire is more costly to purchase and time-consuming to install than is basic wire, but is often safer and less expensive than wood, pipe, or other materials.
Woven wire with large openings (known as "sheep fence" in the western United States has some potential hazards. Animals contained inside the fence can easily put a foot through the wide squares while grazing along the edge of the fence line or while reaching over it, and then become tangled in the fence. It is also dangerous for wild animals, such as deer that attempt to jump such fences. These can become trapped when their back feet clip the fencing and get caught. While they can be cut out, they are often seriously injured and must be euthanized. A variation, called "field fence," has narrower openings at the bottom and wider openings at the top, which prevents animals from getting their feet entangled while grazing close to the fence, though is of little help if an animal becomes tangled in the openings higher up.
Horses and ponies in particular are safer kept inside woven wire fence with squares of smaller dimensions, such as "no climb" fence with squares that are approximately two inches by four inches. This type of wire is also more effective for containing goats.