The primary purpose of an agricultural fence is to keep livestock either in or out. Historically, fences were made from locally sourced material, such as stone, timber, or even a steep ditch. One ancient example using constructed stone fence – as well as natural features – is the Desert Kite…essentially the world’s first catch pen.
In the beginnings of domesticated livestock, fences were typically built to exclude the animals from crops or gardens, and that worked well for thousands of years. As populations grew – and especially with the increasing popularity of the automobile – we drifted to fencing in instead of fencing out.
Fence laws vary from state to state, with some fences being the responsibility of the owner of the livestock, some being the responsibility of the land owner, and some are a shared responsibility.
Some of the great evolutions in fence came with the steelmaking process. In the beginning, it provided a good saw and splitting maul for post and rail fence, and steel tools for stone masons. Eventually that steel would find its way into wire fence such as barbed wire, woven wire (net), and smooth wire. The steel continued to evolve and, today, the most efficient fences available are high tensile (HT) steel with improved corrosion-inhibiting coatings.
The use of HT wire, especially HT net, enables increased intermediate post spacing in low pressure pasture fence applications; it is therefore a much more economically-friendly product than the class I low carbon steel of yesterday. The advent of Super-Sized rolls of both net and barbed wire has also contributed greatly to efficiency.