Cross Fencing: 20 Things (2024) You Have to Know

Cross fencing allows you to divide a larger piece of land into smaller pastures or paddocks.

This method offers various benefits including increased pasture management and productivity.

Here’s what you should know about the benefits of cross fencing and how you should implement it on your land.

1. What is cross fencing?

Cross fencing is when fences are installed inside a perimeter fence to divide a grazing area into two or more separate paddocks.

Cross fences are important for management-intensive grazing (MiG).

These fences can be made from materials like wood, metal, or electric wire.

2. What is the purpose of cross fencing?

The purpose of cross fencing is to divide the land into more than one area.

Some animals like sheep, pigs, or chickens benefit from smaller paddocks rather than one large piece of land.

This allows landowners to have better control over the animal when caring for them.

Cross fencing isn’t always necessary.

For instance, when you have cows or horses on your land, you can get by with larger pastures.

Additionally, you can sometimes use just little wires rather than a full-blown fence to corral these animals.

Psychologically, they respond to these techniques better than smaller animals like chickens or pigs.

3. When is cross fencing used?

Cross fencing is implemented in the agricultural and animal husbandry industries for more efficient land and livestock management.

It provides all the following perks: smaller grazing areas, prevents overgrazing in specific areas, promotes better distribution of forage, and allows targeted pasture management practices such as fertilization or reseeding.

Another use for cross fencing is separating different ages or breed groups of certain animals.

For instance, landowners or ranchers may separate cows and calves.

These practices help to optimize the use of available land resources and improve the productivity and health of livestock.

4. What are the benefits of cross fencing?

The top benefits of cross fencing include:

bulletImproved pasture management: Cross fencing allows for better control of grazing patterns, which can lead to healthier pastures and improved forage quality.

bulletIncreased productivity: By dividing a larger piece of land into smaller pastures, you can rotate grazing animals more efficiently, resulting in higher stocking rates and increased productivity.

bulletReduced risk of overgrazing: Overgrazing can cause significant damage to pastures, leading to soil erosion, weed infestations, and reduced forage production.

Cross fencing can help prevent overgrazing by controlling how many animals are in each area.

bulletBetter animal health: By controlling grazing patterns, cross fencing can help prevent the spread of diseases among animals.

bulletEasier management: With smaller pastures, it is easier to manage grazing patterns, monitor animal health, and administer treatments.

bulletReduced labor costs: Cross fencing helps make grazing management more efficient which can reduce the need for personnel in farm management.

5. What types of fences are best for cross fencing?

Cross fences can either be portable or permanent depending on your preference.

When deciding what to install, you should factor in both your budget as well as ease of installation.

You may consider the following types of fences for cross fencing.

bulletElectric wire: This type of fence is affordable, easy to install, and effective at controlling grazing patterns.

That said, it requires regular maintenance and electric wire can be less durable than other types of fences.

bulletWoven wire: This fence is durable and effective at containing animals.

It is suitable for larger animals such as cattle and horses but can be more expensive to install.

bulletBarbed wire: This fence is inexpensive and effective at containing animals.

However, keep in mind that barbed wire can be dangerous for both animals and humans.

It isn’t recommended for use with horses because they are sensitive animals designed to run when startled.

bulletHigh-tensile wire: This fence is durable and cost-effective.

It is suitable for larger animals such as cattle and horses but requires specialized equipment for installation.

6. Is cross fencing permanent or temporary?

It can be either!

Permanent fencing is made of durable materials such as wood, metal, or PVC.

It is designed to be a long-term solution for dividing pastures.

Temporary fencing is made of lightweight materials such as polywire, polytape, or electric netting.

This option is ideal for pastures that you want to be able to move easily.

7. How do you determine the size of the pastures?

Pasturing sizing depends on numerous factors, including animal type, the amount of forage, and the desired stocking rate.

8. How do you lay out a pasture with cross fencing?

The pasture layout will depend on four factors: topography, location of water sources, location of shade, and location of handling facilities.

bulletThe topography of the land: Avoid steep slopes and areas prone to flooding

bulletThe location of water sources: Ensure that each pasture has access to a reliable water source

bulletThe location of shade: Provide shade for animals during hot weather

bulletThe location of handling facilities: Make sure the pasture has access to handling facilities, such as corrals or chutes

9. How do you install cross fencing?

There’s no straightforward answer to this question because it depends on the type of cross fencing used.

For electric wire fences, you’ll need to use specialized equipment.

We recommend contacting a professional unless you have previous experience doing this.

For woven wire and barbed wire fences, posts, braces, and specialized tools will be used.

Again, unless you have prior experience, hiring a company to come out to your land and install these fences is probably your best option.

10. How do you maintain cross fencing?

If you want cross fencing to last on your land, you’ll need to perform regular maintenance.

This will ensure the fencing is both effective and long-lasting.

Here are the maintenance steps you should take:

bulletRegular inspection of the fence for damage (look for broken wires or posts)

bulletRepair damage promptly

bulletKeep the fence line clear of vegetation to prevent damage from rubbing

11. How do you manage grazing patterns?

By managing grazing patterns, you help keep both the animals and the land healthy.

Some of the top tips for grazing pattern management include:

bulletImplement a rotational grazing system, where animals are moved from one pasture to another

bulletAllow for adequate rest periods between grazing periods to allow for the regrowth of forage

bulletMonitor the animals’ weight and body condition to ensure that they are receiving adequate nutrition

12. How do you prevent overgrazing?

Overgrazing is one of the primary reasons that property owners look to implement a system like management-intensive grazing (MIG) and use techniques like cross fencing.

Otherwise, it’s easy for land to become overgrazed, causing problems like damage to pastures, soil erosion, weed infestations, and reduced forage production.

If you want to prevent overgrazing on your land, try the following tips:

bulletImplement a rotational grazing system

bulletMonitor the animals’ weight and body condition and adjust stocking rates as needed

bulletRest pastures during the growing season to allow for the regrowth of forage

13. How do you ensure animal safety when using cross fencing?

Keep the following in mind when you’re trying to ensure animal safety on your land.

These tips can help you implement cross fencing without harming the livestock you’re hoping to keep on your property.

bulletUse the proper fencing materials that are safe and appropriate for animals

bulletAvoid using barbed wire if you keep horses on your land

bulletEnsure that the fence has proper tension

bulletKeep your fences maintained to prevent animals from getting trapped or injured

14. How do you ensure a fence is properly tensioned?

If you want your fence to be effective, you need proper tension.

You can do this by using a fence tensioning tool to apply tension to the wire.

Next, check the tension regularly and adjust as needed.

However, you should also be careful to avoid over-tensioning your cross fences.

Tighter is not always better, and fences that are over-tensioned can break.

15. What are some common mistakes to avoid when cross fencing?

The most common mistakes to avoid when cross fencing include overgrazing, inadequate fencing, low-quality fencing materials, and poor pasture management.

To avoid overgrazing, ensure that you have adequate pasture available for the number of animals you have.

Inadequate fencing is another common issue.

To avoid this, build a fence that is strong enough to contain the animals.

You should also be sure to do regular maintenance on the fence to ensure it stays in proper condition.

Furthermore, make sure you are using quality materials when fencing.

This is another common mistake for property owners.

They attempt to cut corners when installing, which undermines their goal.

Finally, you should implement a rotational grazing system and avoid overgrazing for optimal pasture management.

16. What are the challenges landowners see with cross fencing?

The top challenges that landowners see with cross fencing include:

bulletHigh cost of materials and installation (especially for permanent fencing)

bulletTime-consuming and labor-intensive repairs

bulletAdditional management and planning to ensure cross fencing are effective

bulletMultiple gates and access points are required for larger pastures

If you’re interested in cross fencing as a landowner, you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared for the extra investment of your time that this method requires.

It can be well worth it, but it doesn’t mean that it’ll always be easy.

17. How much does cross fencing cost?

Ultimately, it depends on the type of fencing used.

A typical barbed wire fence costs between $.04 to $.15 per linear foot, which is why it’s a popular choice for livestock fencing.

It’s dependable, sturdy, and affordable.

However, there are a few ways you can save on cross fencing if you determine it’s what you need, but money is what is preventing you from using it on your land.

First, you could opt for temporary fencing materials rather than permanent solutions.

Next, you could purchase fencing materials in bulk to take advantage of discounts that are available in that respect.

Finally, install the fencing materials yourself rather than hiring a professional installation team.

That said, we only recommend going this route if you have prior experience.

18. What is management-intensive grazing?

Also known as MIG, this is a system of grazing management where livestock is moved to new pasture areas or paddocks to optimize the use of available forage.

Using this method helps to maintain both the health of the land as well as the animals.

In management-intensive grazing, the land is divided into small paddocks using cross fencing.

Often, this cross fencing is temporary.

The livestock is moved from paddock to paddock every few days on a regular schedule.

The fencing can be adjusted as needed.

The ultimate goal of MIG is to ensure that grazing is even across the available forage.

This technique prevents overgrazing and allows for adequate rest and recovery of the vegetation between grazing cycles.

When you use a technique like MIG, it’s better for the land and produces healthier and more resilient plants.

It also encourages the development of a more diverse and productive ecosystem.

When you use MIG (which involves cross fencing), you must manage the land carefully.

As a landowner, you’ll carefully monitor everything from grazing conditions to animal health to pasture health.

You’ll also need to brush up on practices like rotational grazing, stock density management, and intensive soil management.

If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional continuous grazing, MIG is a great option.

You can avoid overgrazing, soil erosion, and decreased productivity of land and livestock.

19. Are there any alternatives to cross fencing?

If you determine that cross fencing isn’t the correct route for your land or livestock, consider using one of the following methods:

bulletStrip grazing: A method that uses temporary fencing to limit livestock access to specific areas of a pasture

bulletSilvopasture: A method that combines livestock grazing with the sustainable management of trees and other woody vegetation

20. How can you learn more about cross fencing?

Do you need more information about installing cross fencing on your land?

Use the following resources:

bulletExtension offices: Contact your local extension office for information and resources on cross fencing and how it helps pasture management.

bulletOnline resources: Don’t overlook the abundance of online resources available for landowners, including YouTube videos.

bulletWorkshops and seminars: Attend workshops and seminars on pasture management and fencing so you can learn from others in your community.

This is also a great way to network with others who can help you if you ever have questions.

Final Thoughts

Cross fencing is a stellar option for landowners who want to protect their property from becoming overgrazed.

If you want to use cross fencing, you must consider the specific needs of your land and livestock before installation.

With proper planning, cross fencing can help you achieve your land goals, improve soil health, provide better distribution of soil, and increase both productivity and profitability.

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Erika Gokce Capital

Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.


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