Articles & Advice

Barbed Wire Fences

by Matt Goering

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Fences

Barbed wire fences are best known as an inexpensive fencing option commonly used in pasture areas to keep livestock confined to specific areas. When used on conjunction with woven wire fencing, barbed wire can be very effective at preventing large animals from breaking down fences, and for keeping smaller animals from digging under a fence line. Barbed wire can also be used to border crops in order to prevent large animals from getting in and wreaking havoc.

Barbed Wire Fences Keep People Out, Too
While most people associate barbed wire with steel posts and agricultural uses, there are many residential and commercial uses for barbed wire, as well. In fact, the agricultural uses of barbed wire are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using barbed wire. Razor wire and razor tape, both hybrids of traditional barbed wire, are some of the most effective security deterrents you can install if your primary concern is keeping unwanted visitors off your property.

What Type of Barbed Wire Fences Do You Need?
In order to determine the type and quantities of barbed wire fences that are going to be best for your needs, it's important to evaluate what you plan on using it for. Agricultural use usually demands a standard double wrap, 12 1/2 gauge, zinc coated, galvanized steel wire, strung along regularly placed steel posts. How many strands you need to install on a length of fence is determined by the livestock you're hoping to keep in (or out). Sheep need the most strands at 7 strips per fence (though the bottom two strands are traditionally constructed of plain wire), while cattle and horses generally don't need more than 4 to 7, depending on the type and temperament. If you're trying to keep people out, you've got a different set of questions to ask altogether, including whether traditional barbed is going to be an effective security solution to start with.

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Security Fence
When it comes to using barbed wire to secure homes and property, it's important to start by asking yourself how extensive your security measures need to be. Standard barbed wire can be an effective deterrent in and of itself when installed at the top of a high fence built from less intimidating materials. In fact, few potential intruders will dare take it on. If your security needs can't be met by traditional barbed wire, however, then it's time to make the move up to razor wire or tape.

Razor wire has the potential to cause serious injury to anybody trying to breach it, making it a very effective security solution that few trespassers would willingly test. Of course, it's probably a good idea to make sure you really need razor wire in the first place. Remember, this is the type of barbed wire that prisons and the military use, and its installation should never be taken lightly. Still, if you're looking for a security deterrent without rival, razor wire definitely takes the cake.

Talk to a Fence Installer or Security Contractor
Depending on the nature of the barbed wire fences you hope to install, you might want to consider hiring a professional to do the job for you. Few agricultural uses require the building expertise required by a professional fence builder, but there are always exceptions. And if you're installing security fences, an experienced security contractor or fence builder is definitely the way to go. Both professionals have the knowledge and expertise to get your new fence installed safely (always a concern with barbed wire), and as quickly as possible.

Matt Goering, formerly a carpenter and house painter, is a freelance writer for the home improvement industry who has published over 600 articles.