Opinions on Fencing Costs Pretty Please?

skytidalwave(z7 VA)September 3, 2005

I bought a 7.5 acre mini-farm that needs the fencing redone on the perimeter. The pasture is kind of horseshoe shaped with the middle being smaller - like a donut with a section out for the driveway and my house and yard in the middle where the hole in the donut is. The center part fenced might be about an acre. This has post/board fencing, but I need woven wire attached to it. My husband does not want electric fencing. The perimeter is in barbed wire and we want 4" square long-lasting woven wire fencing. We did not measure the feet and have not been given the exact feet of fencing we need yet from contractors.

The land is rolling, with about 1 acre wooded, 1 acre wet bottom land, a small section is steep, but mostly gentle slopes. The grass is overgrown 1 season. We heard we can't get it bush hogged because of irregularities and rocks.

I called well over a half dozen fencing contractors. Three came out to look at it. Two said they weren't interested in the job. One contractor quoted $13,000 for approximately 1,500 ft high tensile woven wire (some of the metal posts already there will be reused) with adding wood posts concreted in every somany feet, the rest will be woven wire tacked onto existing post/board (I guess about 500 ft?, plus an addition of about 100 ft more of post/board fencing added. They will be installing three drive-through gates and two walk-through gates.

I wish I could have gotten more estimates to compare. Does this sound reasonable? They said it should take about 2-weeks.

On the other hand I had another fence guy that is not available right now tell me that he charges $17/hr for three men, plus $1.25 per post. I'm not sure how to interperate that quote. I'm guessing that if this second fencing guy can do it in the same two weeks that it will be more affordable - but not sure - plus he seemed a little reluctant. Still, if I can save a few thousand dollars that is important.

Any toughts other than get electric fencing?

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erinluchsinger(z4 - Upstate NY)

2 weeks! That sounds like a VERY long time to do your job. I've seen fencing contractors run MILES of 3 strand high tensile in a matter of a day. No joke. I'd ask the 2nd guy if he can estimate how long it will take him. His quote is a bit too open ended if you ask me.
I'd keep on calling contractors, or even ask around if they know of someone how's had fence put up lately. They may be able to help you out on a guestimate for price.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 11:47AM
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Darn, I just wrote a long reply and hit the wrong key and lost the whole thing. I think you need more estimates; the second guy's hourly and per post charges don't sound too bad but it's way too vague. The first estimate...well, about 4 years ago we had 40 acres of very uneven, hilly, rocky ground (very steep in places with two creek ravines) fenced with 4" woven sheep and goat wire, cedar posts set in concrete every 50 feet and metal t-posts every 10 feet. They had to use a Bobcat-mounted power post hole digger because of the rock, and about half a mile of it was post and board plus the 4" wire....total cost was between $20,000 and $25,000.

Fencing materials have gone up quite a bit since then, but for some additional fencing we had done more recently the costs were $5 something per foot with materials supplied, and about $3.50 per foot if we bought materials. I know we live in different states, but here in central Texas outside Austin the costs of living aren't that low....and fencing contractors not at all desperate, lots of acreages, farms and ranches being fenced. Don't know if that helps at all, but it might be worth it to keep looking....hope this isn't a dumb or rude question (don't mean to sound like you don't know what you're doing!!!) but are you targeting farm and ranch fencing contractors as opposed to "townfolks." :~)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 1:51PM
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We have horses and texas longhorn cattle.Weve had them in this feced are now for 13 years no problem.We have split rail 4 rail with 1-electric strand running along the top.My hubby did all the work,he does have skidloader with post hole digger attatchment.We did not cement posts,tamped stone.It didnt cost near that.The fence is treated.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 3:27PM
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We had miles of new barbed wire (5-strand) with steel posts and wooden corner posts put in a couple of years ago. He charged so much a foot for removing the old and building the new fence. We paid separately for the materials. If he had to rent a dozer, we paid for that. He used his own BobKat, no extra charge for that.

You should be able to get an aerial view of your acerage with a correct scale on it from your FSA (Farm Services Administration) office. I would want to know the number of feet I was talking about before I contracted with anyone for a set price!

You might also get an idea about fencing charges from your local extension people. They can be lots of help.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 3:32PM
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DPallas(z6, SW Mo)

Woven wire fence (4') should cost less than $1.10 per foot including labor, or less than $6,000 to fence in 40 acres (one-quarter mile on each side) with 8" corner posts, 4" braces, and steel T posts spaced 12' apart. See the link below for the cost of the components and labor, and you should be able to come up with your own estimate by drawing a little map.

Corner and end assemblies are the most expensive part of the fence, and you'd need a minimum of eight corners (three 8" posts each) for a horseshoe shape and ten ends (two 8" posts each, four per gate) for five gates, so the cost per foot would be considerably higher (because for 7.5 acres you're not spreading the cost of the 8" posts over nearly as much length as 40 acres would). The labor on setting those big posts is far more than on T posts.

Still, $13,000 sounds like a lot, even with five gates and 100' post and board added in. I'll bet 75% of that is labor, and 2 weeks is far too many man-hours unless there's only one man working. If you've already got all the big, heavy corner posts you need, then this quote is outrageous.

Here is a link that might be useful: Estimated Costs for Livestock Fencing

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 3:41PM
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We have a backhoe & installed our poles & fence that way. No concrete needed. We had to hand-dig some because of rocks. 6 weekends, 3 men for 2 acres 5' anchor fence, poles every 5 feet, wire on the interior ground. Cost: $2500.00 ish. $13000.00 seems very high.

Have you checked into cattle panels? Up here they run about $30.00 each (15 feet per). They're sturdy & will last much longer than wire, and less labor to install I would imagine. More for your money.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 9:04PM
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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

"Hubby doesn't want electric fencing" -

After I worked so hard to fence a total of 35 acres (and spent so much money doing it) I made sure my electric fence was working 24/7. I was not about to let livestock tear it up!! I did a strand about knee high to a horse, that seemed to keep off both the horses and the goats.

I couldn't tell you about the cost though, that was aprox 10 years ago and we did it ourselves.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 12:03AM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

You are wasting your time putting in woven wire or tensile wire fence, with no electric to protect it. You could have the nicest pasture around, still the animals will try to get out, push on the fence without electric to keep them off.

Three strands of tensile is NOT how tensile is supposed to be installed. The 2-3 strand fences are the ones that hurt animals, have damaged livestock, give tensile fences a bad rap.
Manufacturers recommended tensile wire installations have a much higher number of wires. Recommended for horses is 8 strands, cattle is 14 stands. Corner and end posts NEED to be double braced or they don't stay put when wire tightens in winter. All our long stretches of tensile have sets of springs, to keep wire tight, give if an animal hits the wire. 4 strands hot ALL THE TIME!

Prices sound a little high. However you have a small job, maybe have severe conditions to work with.

We had our posts driven in with a pile driver. It is an extremely fast method of installing posts. They did hit a couple rocks, posts broke. We are not in a mountain area, no rock ledges, though some boulders hidden in the deeper soil. Dug no post holes, have had no posts come loose. Our fence installers were pretty fast, our fields were all clear, easy to drive on, get equipment around. Maybe you could rent a post driver, they are available around here.
We have no cement on any posts. I have seen posts with cement to rot out sooner, they never get to dry out. Cement holds the moisture in against the wood, treated or not.

I also would measure my fields, get an accurate idea of what I had to do. We got our gates from the gate man at the local livestock auction, make sure you get heavy weight gates. Heavy ones are much more durable.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 12:59AM
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pamcleod(z4 NH Lakes)

I think costs can really vary across the country. I know that we here in NH are in a pretty expensive area when it comes to this stuff, and you may be, as well.

We got a grant from the NRCS for fencing, intended to be 90% reimbursement, and that was up to $4/ft. So 1500' would be more than $6000 and that's DIY cost, not including labor.

I have talked to fencing companies around here (we are also in steep & rocky ground) and they were quoting prices like $50 PER POST (that's every 8 feet)! The companies here do mostly yard and estate fencing. If I were to hire someone to do farm fencing, I think I would work through one of the electric fence companies, like Gallagher, and their network of dealers. Some of those firms sell non-electric fence materials.

If you will have horses, you should know that the 4" square woven wire is not safe for them - they can get their hooves caught in it.

Also, here it costs about $300/day to rent a backhoe or skid-steer.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 6:48PM
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Wow, I want to live someplace where fencing can be had for $1.10/foot, including labor! Around here we can't even buy the materials described for that, and that's by shopping around a lot and buying fence posts in one town farther away from the big city, rolls of fence wire in another, etc.

BTW, the person who said posts set in concrete rot faster is right, from everything I've read...but the people who did our fence did it that way so that's what we're stuck with (fortunately, in this climate and this dry, rocky ground cedar fence posts last a long time anyway and it does give us a bit more stability on the very steep and rocky parts.) Anyway, that's an expense you don't need to incur when you do fencing...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 8:45AM
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ladnarsr(sw IA)

Look up FARM BOY FENCING Scranton, Iowa. He has 20' sections of continuous fencing powdercoated I beleive for around $7 a running foot. I beleive that was with posts either steel or wood . Its been a while since I checcked. Cattle panels 16' run $15 used to $20 new. I buy Used hog panels for about $1-2 each or less because no one around here raises hogs outside anymore. Barb wire $56 a roll, Steel posts $3 each, wood corners is anyones guess. RANDAL

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 9:31PM
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goodhors and I are usually on the same page, but I'll differ on this point.
My entire farm is fenced with two strands of electrified HT fence - at 20" and 30" - contains horses and cows alike. Actually, one strand would probably suffice; electric fence is a 'psychological' barrier, moreso than a physical barrier.
Pastures are divided up into smaller paddocks with a single strand of electrified polywire at 30". The horses and cows all know what it is. With electrification, you don't have to crank the tension up but just enough to keep the wire from sagging - less potential for injury IF an animal hits it, and less strain on end & corner post assemblies.
Injuries? I've seen a whole lot more horses injured with net wire, barbed wire, even with board fencing, than with electrified HT fence. That said, I wouldn't turn a new horse out to run with all the others without some 'fence training'.
In 'high-pressure' areas, like holding pens, crowding alleys, I do have 6 or 7 strands, with the tension cranked up, but 14 strands? That defeats the major advantages of HT fencing - economy and ease of installation.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 12:40PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

Fve years ago, we had contractors fence in five acres with split-rail, with woven wire attached (the kind that's tighter at the bottom so horses don't get their feet caught). We did the demolition, they supplied all materials. It was about $7 a linear foot and only took a few days (big crew and Bobcat).

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 1:05PM
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DPallas(z6, SW Mo)

Lucky P wrote: In 'high-pressure' areas, like holding pens, crowding alleys, I do have 6 or 7 strands, with the tension cranked up, but 14 strands? That defeats the major advantages of HT fencing - economy and ease of installation.

I've seen something like 14-wire HT used to keep out smaller predators like dogs and coyotes; it's an effective substitute for woven wire and isn't as likely to get an animal tangled or trapped. It's also necessary to have at least four wires for goats and sheep (if you don't mind them trecking cross-country once in a while) but more wires with spaces no more than 3 or 4" are much better. Ordinarily, hot and ground wires are alternated, you don't charge every strand of an HT fence.

I have similar fencing to yours - somewhat slack and not high tensile at all - but don't use electric at all in high pressure areas. Steel pipe panels and 16' cattle panels are more costly, but worth it not to get zapped. I've never seen cattle do this, but goats and sheep will deliberately shove humans, stock dogs, or smaller members of the flock into electric fences.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 3:57PM
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FYI, I imagine that $1.10 was for installation alone and the owner supplies the materials. I think that is about what we paid, with us buying all materials.
Lucky, interesting that your perimeter fencing is hi-tensile, we used Gallagher and worked through the NRCS. Their suggestion was regular fencing for all perimeters.

Actually, I am not a huge fan of hi-tensile electric fencing. Either we are lazy or our farm grows too much brush. We could have used a full-time farm hand just keeping the fence rows cleaned! We finally gave it up in brushy areas. Trying to keep 200 acres of Ozark country fence lines clear of thorn trees and Osage Orange alone is a nightmare!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 5:30PM
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DPallas(z6, SW Mo)

If you check the link I provided Estimated Costs for Livestock Fencing the $1.10 was for both materials and labor on a quarter-mile of fence. The material costs are still accurate for our farmers' coop here, but are probably too low for non-agricultural areas. It's cheaper per foot to build a long fenceline than a short one because of the fixed cost of the end/corner posts; you can't fence seven acres as cheaply per foot as forty acres.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 6:22PM
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skytidalwave(z7 VA)

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I got in touch with my neighbor regarding a shared fence to ask him about it and he told me that the one that said labor plus a dollar something per post is the most reasonable fence-guy around here and to stick with him - I think it sounds reasonable. My neighbor even suggested he miht share the cost of our shared fence - yeah!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 8:58PM
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I can 'bush-hog' under most of my fence - bottom strand is at 18-20 inches - and with electrified HT, T-posts are at ~100 ft spacings, wood posts only at ends/corners, or major changes in direction of pull. Guess I could probably do an even better job mowing under the fence with a sicklebar mower, but I don't have one. A couple of trips along the fence on a yearly basis to spot-spray the boxelder, elm, and other woody weeds keeps things pretty clean.
There's close to a mile of HT fence running along the top side of the pastures, set back 40 ft into the woods. Lots of dips & rises in this run, but with HT wire - and I did put tensioner springs in the top strand - if a tree or branch falls on it, it's a simple matter of just cutting the tree off the fence, and it pops right back into place. I have to replace an insulator here and there on a regular basis, where the deer run into it and break the pin or the insulator itself, but maintenance is quick, easy, and a whole lot less intensive than the barbed wire fences I grew up with.

Requirements for perimeter fencing differ from state to state, with some having no requirements whatsoever(I suspect KY is one of those. There are cattle here inside the city limits, on property adjacent to and surrounding the lab where I work - and the city soccer & baseball fields & tennis courts. One strand of electrified HT barbed wire - and they're never out, unless we have a flood that washes out a section of fence - and believe me, net wire &/or multiple-strand barbed would be gone just as fast, if not sooner, in that situation. I'm sure neither my two-strand HT or the single-strand barbed wire perimeter fence would meet the standards in some states.

For a number of years, I kept my cows & horses contained in the creekbottom field with a single strand of electrified HT(smooth) wire; floods never damaged it, but my neighbor downstream would have to replace his entire fenceline every time the creek got out of its bank; all I'd have to do was walk along and 'strum' mine to shake the leaves & grass off. Sheep & goats would require more - and more maintenance to keep weeds/grass off the wire, but with cattle & horses, I've found that 2 strands are plenty - and when I start doing semi-permanent pasture divisions, I suspect they'll probably be done with a single strand of HT wire at 30". Yes, little calves may go under, but they're not going far from mom.

Some good tips on fence construction, pasture watering systems, etc. at the site linked below:

Here is a link that might be useful: PastureManagement.com

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 10:39AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

All spring and summer I drove past 150 Angus bulls contained on 40 acres by 2-wire electric. If you put all the tools and materials on a Gator you could have done it yourself by now.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 1:05PM
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Dchall is sright.
My son and I put up a mile of electrified 2-strand HT fence in 5 days - and most of that time was entailed in cutting, hauling and setting the 17 cedar &/or utility pole posts that were required at the ends, one gateway in the middle of the span, and at each place the direction of pull changed, as a result of changes in direction of the creek that the fence is offset 100 ft from. Actually took less than one day to run and stretch the two strands - each a mile in length(OK, two strands each, 1/2 mile long, on either side of the gate in the middle), drive in the T-posts at 100-ft intervals, and install insulators on the T-posts. Probably less than $300 in materials, since most of the wood posts were cut out of my own woods or were freebies from the rural electric co.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 11:12PM
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We have a gator everybody that owns a farm should own one makes it easy

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 8:53AM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

I'm not a fan of electric fence around horses! we had elec. fence up about a year before calamity happened, but, with this mare it could've happened anytime-you dont tell her where she can -and cannot go! she pulled the fence off the insulators, broke it-and managed to wrap it atound both hind legs in a saw-type fashion, where each step cut deeper. this was overnight, so by morning, one leg was cut to the bone all the way around.it was rough removing this with wire cutters, i tell you!!one vet said he couldnt save her, another said he could--IF the cut was above the fluid pocket that controls the joint and movement. during hours of surgery, he found it had just nicked it--so--three months and $3000. later, we brought her home. its been 7 years-and she's still tearing up any fence she can--but there will never be another electric fence.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 9:21AM
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skytidalwave(z7 VA)

Sorry if this is an ultra beginner question, but, what is a gator?

The fencing guy that charges by the hour said I would need to clear the brush around the fence line before he'd go near it. My neighbor says the best tool would be a sickle bar. So, for rolling hills, some wooded, some swampy, but mostly just gently sloping pasture - about less than 2,000 ft of fence - do you think I should get a small tractor (and what specifications would I need) or a walk-behind sickle bar mower?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 11:02AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

John Deere makes a golf cart sized vehicle for farm and ranch called a Gator.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 3:34PM
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I don't know if you our still needing this but field fence should run around $7-$9 per ft. with all material in Texas.

If you need anything else send me an email.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 9:45PM
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