How to install a livestock fence

Updated December 21, 2016

Livestock fencing comes in a variety of styles, and the choice you make may depend on the type of livestock you own. Cattle and horses stay penned with barbed wire, while sheep and hogs usually need woven wire fencing to keep them in their pens. In the case of hogs, a row of barbed wire fencing underneath the woven wire can keep them from rooting their way out of the pen. Once you understand how to do one straight row of fencing, you can easily complete the entire pen.

Mark the fence row. Tie a piece of string around a stake. Put the stake in the ground where you intend for one of the corners to be. Tie the other end of the string around a stake you place at the next corner or end post. You now have a straight line for your livestock fence.

Dig the holes for the two corner posts. These posts are bigger than the rest of the fence because they support the tension of the barbed wire or woven wire. These posts are larger at the bottom, so the hole must accommodate their size. The hole should be below the frost line as well, so the posts don’t heave out of the ground during the spring thaw. Use a posthole auger attached to a tractor or hand-held jobbers to dig the hole.

Set the corner posts. Add cement to set them in place if you wish, or just tamp dirt firmly around the posts.

Use a tape measure to mark 4 to 6 feet along the fence line from the corner post for the spot to place the brace post. Dig the hole and set the post. Repeat this process for the other brace post. Cut small notches about half way up both the corner and brace posts. Set a metal brace in the notch to form an “H” between the two upright posts.

Set the remaining fence posts using the string as your guide. Space them between 9 to 12 feet apart. Unless your land is hilly, you can probably use steel T-shaped posts that you drive by hand. If wood posts are plentiful, you can use them, but they need to have holes dug. You can also use a mixture of steel and wooden posts.

Wrap the bottom barbed wire around a corner post, or attach the woven wire to the corner post with steeples. Run the wire to the opposite corner post. Pull it tight and secure it. With barbed wire, repeat the process until you have all the wires strung.

Secure the wire to the remaining posts with wire clips. Use pliers to attach the clips


Put a steel fence post through the wire spool to make it easier to unwind the wire. Animals rub against the wire. Install it on the pasture side of the fence posts to keep the animals from pushing the wires off the fence posts.


Barbed wire and woven wire both have sharp ends. Wear leather gloves as you work with the fencing materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Stakes
  • String
  • Corner posts
  • Brace posts
  • Metal braces
  • Steel fence posts
  • Posthole diggers
  • Wire
  • Cement
  • Tamper
  • Fencing steeples
  • Wire clips
  • Pliers
  • Leather gloves
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About the Author

Denise Brown is an education professional who wanted to try something different. Two years and more than 500 articles later, she's enjoying her freelance writing experience for online resources such as and other online information sites. Brown holds a master's degree in history education from Truman State University.