Building fence facts

Apr 20, 2016

Credit Deb Farris / KAKE

From Kansas Agland:

Last week, livestock markets in Pratt and Reno counties helped raise $120,000 by auctioning off a donated heifer and two steer calves in an effort to raise funds to aid ranchers with wildfire losses in Reno, Harvey, Barber and Comanche counties.

Ranchers across a 400,000-acre swatch have lost cattle. Some have lost homes, buildings. It burned their grass that the cattle were grazing on - and they lost their stockpiles of hay.

They also lost fencing across ranches that span several thousand acres.

But how much fence will the funds raised actually build?

The cost of a mile of fence is roughly $9,000 to $12,000 - depending on the quality of materials and labor, according to two fencing companies -  TTT Fencing, Gregg and Sandi Tucker of Smith Center; and Jason Chesney, Chesney Fencing - in Reno County.

That means, in those two auctions, ranchers raised enough funds for roughly 12 miles of fence.

It’s not clear how much fence was lost - but ranchers are beginning to repair and replace hundreds, if not several thousand, miles of fence.

It could take a few years to repair, said Sandi Tucker. She said her husband has been volunteering his fence-building skills on the Merrill Ranch in Comanche County.

Gregg Tucker, she said, woke up in the middle of the night March 30, wondering what he could do to help ranchers. The Tuckers didn't have hay to give, she said.

But, he told her, "I can give my time."

Gregg returned home Thursday.

Fast Facts:

Barbed Wire: A roll of barbed wire costs between $65 and $75 a roll. A four-wire fence takes 16 rolls a mile. A five-roll fence takes 20 rolls a mile. A roll of barbed wire will stretch a quarter of a mile.

Fence posts - Sandi Tucker said most ranchers use a mixture of steel and wood - typically two steel posts to one wood post. A steel T-post costs about $5.50 a post. A hedge post is about $11. For a quarter mile of fence, it takes 60 T-posts and 30 wood posts. Hedge runs about $11 a post. 

Wire - Clips come with the T-Posts, but you still need wire to hold up your posts - that is $20 a mile.

Corner posts: Sandi said every time you have a three-post corner, it costs about $150. Meanwhile, ranchers put H Braces in every quarter mile - which is about $100 an H Brace. The purpose of an H-brace is to counteract the force of the fence wires pulling on the end post.

When it is all said and done, materials are more than 50 percent of the cost, with the rest being labor, said Chesney. Fence builders have liability insurance and have employees on the payroll.

Also, he said, fence builders have their own equipment, including skid loaders, to get the job done. Sandi said they cut down trees that might be in the way, as well as do dirt work to prepare for the fence building. 

A crew of three will take a week and a half to build a mile of fence, said Sandi Tucker.