This publication estimates the time, machinery and material requirements to build one mile of fence. Custom fencing costs may be higher than on-farm costs if the contractor has higher labour charges. Costs are estimated for variations of four types of fence: barbed wire, electrified, high tensile and predator fencing.
In the following estimates, labour costs are based on a two-person team. Fencing can be more time consuming if soil conditions are dry, if there is rough terrain or obstacles, or if larger fence posts are used.
Often, fence-building over long distances allows a certain amount of economies of scale. Labour and machinery use may become more efficient and as a result, costs per mile may decrease. Material costs often remain the same.
Fencing costs will vary when the space between posts is increased or decreased. Prices were supplied by two major farm supply retailers in southern Saskatchewan. Where there was a discrepancy in price, an average was taken. Package deals from retailers may reduce prices for items. PST and GST are not included in the prices.
TABLE 1: FENCING MATERIALS PRICE ASSUMPTIONS (April 15, 2009)
Barb Wire Fences:
Posts - All posts are six foot (180 cm) and have a spacing of 18 feet (5.5 m). This works out to 293 posts per mile (176 posts per km). We assume this length of fence will require 20 brace posts and nine corner and gate posts.
Wire - A roll of barbed wire is 1/4 mile (150 m) long. A three-wire fence one mile long requires 12 rolls and a four-wire fence one mile long requires 16 rolls. Two-strand standard 12.5-gauge barbed wire is used for the barbed wire fences.
Staples - One strand of barbed wire stretched one mile and attached to 293 posts requires approximately 4.3 lbs (2 kg) of staples. Therefore, a three-wire fence requires 13 lbs (6 kg) of staples and a four-wire all post fence requires approximately 18 lbs (8 kg) per mile.
Labour - Erection of fence, including corner posts, bracing, pounding posts, stretching and stapling wire, requires 70 hours per mile (42 hrs/km) for a three-wire barbed fence and 80 hours per mile (48 hrs/km) for a four-wire barbed fence.
Post Pounder - A team should be able to erect one mile of posts in 10 hours (one km in six hours).
TABLE 2: Cost to erect barbwire fence ($/mile)
Posts - All posts are six foot (180 cm) posts and have 48 foot (14 m) spacing. This works out to 110 posts per mile (66 posts per km). Nine corner and gate posts and 20 brace posts are also assumed.
Wire - Galvanized 12.5-gauge high tensile wire is used for the electric fence. Every additional strand of high-tensile wire adds approximately $245 to the cost of one mile of electric fence.
Nails - an electric fence requires three pounds (1.4 kg) of 2.5 inch (6.25 cm) ardox nails per mile of wire. Therefore, a three strand electric fence requires nine pounds (4 kg) of nails and a four strand electric fence requires 12 lbs (5.5 kg) of nails.
Insulators - Low-cost insulators fastened by two nails are used to secure the electric fence to the posts. Corner post insulators and insulators adjacent to in-line tighteners ensure the electric fence is not grounded at these locations.
Energizer - The cost of the energizer is not included as the energizer requirements are specific to the application and the prices are highly variable.
Labour - Erection of a two-wire high tensile wire electric fence, including corner posts, bracing, pounding posts, installing insulators and stretching wire, requires 40 man-hours per mile (24 hrs/km). Each additional strand will take an extra five hours per mile (three hours/km) of labour to erect.
Post pounder - A crew should be able to erect one mile of fence posts in four hours.
TABLE 2: Cost to erect electric fence*
*Costs of electric fencing do not include the cost to the energizer.
Temporary Electric Fencing
Temporary electric fencing refers to light electric fence meant to be rolled up and stored after use. Often these fences are portable and are used to control access to temporary pasture. These fences are also used to increase forage utilization in a paddock. Temporary fencing involves the use of one or two wires, either high-tensile wire or nylon strand with interwoven wire. Often, plastic, nylon or homemade rebar posts are used.
Posts - Post spacing should be close enough to keep the wire at a reasonable height. High tensile wire will need more posts to support than poly wire, because of the weight of the wire. Topography also plays a role in the number of posts needed. In undulating topography, posts will be needed to keep wire off the ground on the hill-tops and closer to the ground in the dips.
TABLE 3: Costs of posts associated with temporary electric fence
*Note the price of insulators in not included. Insulator costs range from $0.25 to $0.30 each. Some portable posts have insulators attached.
Wire - Poly wire is most common in temporary fencing application, its very light and easy to transport. However, some prefer the strength of high tensile wire. A third option is light aluminium fencing wire.
TABLE 4: Costs of wire associated with temporary electric fence
*note that high-tensile wire needs splicing.
High tensile fence:
Posts - The all post fences have a post-spacing of 18 feet (5.5 m). This works out to 293 posts per mile (176 posts/km)
Wire - A single galvanized 12.5-gauge high tensile smooth wire is used for the high tensile smooth wire fences.
Staples - One strand of high-tensile wire stretched one mile and attached to 293 posts requires approximately 4.3 lbs (2 kg) of staples. Therefore, a three-wire fence requires 13 lbs (6 kg) of staples and a four-wire all post fence requires approximately 18 lbs (8 kg) per mile.
Labour - One mile of four-wire high tensile smooth wire fence requires 50 hours to erect (30 hrs/km) and a five-wire high tensile smooth wire fence requires 60 hours (36 hrs/km) to erect.
TABLE 5: Cost to erect high tensile fencing ($/mile)
Field Fence (Predator Fence):
Posts - The all post fences have a post-spacing of 20 feet (6 m). This works out to 265 posts per mile (159 posts/km). Posts are 6 feet long (1.8 m). Twenty brace posts and nine corner and gate posts are also required.
Wire - Field fence (page wire), is sold in 330 foot (99 m) rolls. This example uses 47 inch (120 cm) tall fence. One mile of fence requires 16 rolls of field fence (10 rolls/km). The example also calls for three extra strands of high tensile wire, two above the field fence and one offset away from the base on the outside perimeter of the fence. A complete plan for this example fence is found in Agdex 684-7 on Alberta Agriculture and Food Website (www.agric.gov.ab.ca ).
Staples - Four-wire all post fence requires 18 lbs/mile (5 kg/km) of staples while a five-wire all post fence requires 23 lbs/mile (6.5 kg/km).
Labour - One mile of four-wire high tensile smooth wire fence requires 50 hours to erect (30 hrs/km) and a five-wire high tensile smooth wire fence requires 60 hours to erect (36 hrs/km).
TABLE 6: Cost to erect predator control fencing ($/mile)
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