By Teri Olcott
You've chosen your rural fencing for your farm, now comes the fence posts. A fence post has to be able to support the fence and also be the correct post for the needs of the fencing. A post that’s too small will not stand up to animals that tend to brush against or reach over their fencing. A fence post that it too large will certainly keep animals contained but may be overkill and a waste of time and money. Some fence posts can only be used with certain types of fencing where others are a bit more flexible. Not sure what kind of fence post you should buy? The following information will help you select the correct fence post to use with your rural fencing.
Wooden Fence Posts
Wooden fence posts can be used with a variety of wire and wooden fencing. A wooden fence post has to be sturdy, which means digging a hole and possibly using gravel or cement to keep the post upright. Depending on your soil, a deep hole may be all you need. Wooden fence posts have an aesthetically pleasing look but may not be needed for small animals or crop fencing.
Treated wooden fence posts will give fencing a neat and tidy look as the posts are uniform in size and shape. The posts can be round or square and should be six to eight feet tall. At least one-third of the post will be buried underground. Tall fencing creates more strain on the posts, and the diameter of the fence post should be at least six inches. A 4-inch diameter fence post might be adequate for shorter fencing. Wooden fence posts are usually placed every five feet along the fence. Most types of wire and wooden fencing can be easily attached to wooden fence posts. Posts that are treated are resistant to rotting which means you won’t have to replace them for many years. Depending on where you purchase your fence posts, the cost can range from $8 to $10 a post. If you have a large pasture to fence in, store-bought treated fence posts can be a bit expensive.
If you don’t care how neat and uniform your fence posts look, locust fence posts are a less expensive option. Split locust fence posts are naturally rot resistant which means no chemicals. Locust posts are not uniform which will give your fence a very rustic look. Some people may or may not appreciate this style. The cost of locust fence posts varies depending on where you live, but if locust trees are abundant, the price tag can be as low as $3 a post.
Metal Fence Posts
Metal fence posts are less expensive than wood and easier to install. Depending on your crops, livestock, and style of fencing, metal fence posts may be adequate. They don’t look quite as nice as wood, but they are more practical when it comes to fencing in a large area.
T-Posts and U-Posts
Steel T-posts and U-posts are used exclusively with wire fencing. T-posts are shaped like the letter T, and U-posts are shaped like the letter U. Both types of posts are easy to install. You can hit them with a sledgehammer or use a specialized post driver to install the posts. An anchor plate towards the bottom of the post keeps the post secure and upright. Most people use wooden fence posts on the corners and any area where there will be a gate. Depending on the wire fencing being used, the posts should be set every 8 to 12 feet along the fence line. You can get away with a little more distance between posts if using barbed wire. Studs on the post hold the wire and can face inward or outward depending on the fencing needs - keeping animals in our out. T-posts and U-posts range in height from four feet to eight feet and are often sold in bundles of five or ten. You can buy them from any store that sells fencing and farm supplies.
Step-In Fence Posts
Step-In fence posts are meant for temporary fencing. The posts are very lightweight and made from either polypropylene or fiberglass. They have a spike on the bottom that pushes easily into the ground. Some have a hole just above the spike where you can slide your foot in and “step” the post into the ground. Most come with hooks that allow you to string several strands of wire or rope. For farms that have rotational grazing, step-in fencing is an economical way of quickly putting up and then taking down a fence later. Step-in fencing can also be used for a temporary corral or to divide up a large pasture. Some step-in fence posts have built-in insulator clips which allow them to work with electric fencing. Step-in posts range from a height of four to six feet and are often sold in bundles of 25 to 100. The cost is usually less than $2 a post. Step-in fencing isn’t a good idea for permanent fencing or for large aggressive animals.
Fiberglass and Metal Rods
Although not technically a fence post, fiberglass and metal rods can be used for temporary fencing or to bridge a gap in more sturdy fencing. When used with wooden or metal fence posts, fiberglass or metal rods can allow you to place the posts farther apart with a fiberglass or metal rod in between. When used with electric fencing, you will need to buy insulators to hold the electric wire. Fiberglass and metal rods are a cheap way to put up electric fencing to keep out deer.
When it comes to rural fencing, you have several options for fence posts. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. You will need to determine if the post is a good match for your fencing, the type of animals you’re containing or keeping out, your long-term plans for the fencing, and of course your budget. Also consider your soil, the shape of the terrain, and the wildlife that visits the area. A fence post is the backbone of your fencing, and the stronger the post, the stronger the fence.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Teri Olcott, www.shutterstock.com, and www.dreamstime.com