General Pasture

Calculating Fencing Costs

Full digitization of fence lines and posts in GIS software makes the basic calculations simple. GIS provides geometry of the digital features including fence length:

Total Length of Permanent Fencing

(In “Sum” field)


Also determined by GIS, I have 26 wooden corner posts and 162 steel line posts in the full phase fence plans. Breaking it down to Phase 1-only shows a need of 23 wood and 119 steel posts.

Those figures alone let me derive most of the other materials needed in simple excel formulas. For example, each wood post requires insulators for both the spark and ground wires, while the leaving the steel posts uninsulated to the ground wire acts to ground it! However I am still trying to research if it is desirable to only leave the steel posts uninsulated at specific intervals. I am also debating if I need to install a gate at every paddock. For now the last question is factored in as affirmative.

For Phase 1 Fencing:

Fence Calc P1

Now with 3 wires added for phase 2 plans, the calculations are as follows:

Fence Calc P2

Other than buying the animals themselves, this should be the biggest investment I have to make!

General Pasture

Fencing Phases

Goats are awesome and I require a few on any farmstead operation I undertake. They are fun, have a lot of personality and provide awesome milk! I only want enough to provide milk and occasional meat to myself. However they are also quite adventurous and have a reputation for escape artistry. Consequently, fencing matters are complicated by goats.

Ideally I would like to run the goats and cows together to reap the benefits of multispecies farming. The goats will remove woody and broadleaf plants from the pasture while cattle turn the solar energy capture by grasses into protein! Since the pasture has been unmaintained, there will be plenty of work for the goats whose salary will be a feast of heavy populations of immature trees and brushy areas.

Fencing will be done in two phases. Phase 1 will serve the needs of permanent and temporary fencing for the cattle while providing the goats with their own movable electric net fencing. At lease the cattle will trample whatever plants they don’t like but I would like to let the goats harvest that biomass. The major difference with Phase 1 alone will be that the permanent electric fences contain only 2 wires. One or two wires will be use for the temporary paddock boundaries.

Phase 2 will accommodate the mixed goat-cow heard by upping the wire count to 5 (or more). The electric fence netting will be used as the temporary fencing for the mixed herd.

Eventually I would like to rebuild the permanent parameter fence for a big of escapee containment insurance.

My main concern is predation of the goats when separated from the cattle…and even when the herds are mixed. If coyotes prove to be an issue, we can have a vote when the time comes: llama, donkey, mule, guardian dog?

General Pasture

Mapping the Fence Posts

Lucky for me, there is a built-in tool in GIS software that allows points to be added along lines. I’m going to go ahead and add the points then make modifications to the fence line and posts together.

Constructing Posts:


Based on recommendation from fence vendors and manufacturers, I want the distance between posts to be no greater than 45 feet. Since I have to chose units in the same coordinate system I am using (State Plane), my input is 16 meters (~40 ft). In the “Construct Point” tool, I choose to create points based on the desired interval, not a total number of posts. Clearly you need posts at the start and end of the fence so that option is selected as well:


The fence posts will now be outputted to the blank point shapefile in which it was directed. Keep in mind that these are only the permanent fence posts!

For electric fencing, I want well-anchored wooden post for corners and galvanized steel for the line posts. The galvanized posts have an additional benefit of acting as grounding rods for the electric fence system while the braced wooden posts keep everything secure. Symbolized wood/steel posts, cleaned up fence lines and cleaned up post points yield the next iteration of my fence map:


General Pasture

Mapping the Fences

Now that the paddocks are roughly mapped out, I can start mapping the fencing. My plan is to have multiple rows of permanent fencing running north-south with an east-west gap of about 100 feet. Temporary fencing can be laid east-west and moved daily to create new paddocks. Therefore the paddock area can be adjusted if necessary by how far apart the temporary fences are spaced.

Using maps to optimize the fencing uses additional factors than just creating exact areas. Using the parcels as a basis, elevation is also factored in as the most optimal fence will follow the contours as efficiently as possible. To achieve this I downloaded LiDAR data. LiDAR is collected from an aerial source that broadcasts a laser then senses and analyzes the reflected light. It is one of the most accurate technologies to collect elevation data but it is very expensive. Luckily free LiDAR data is available for my farm, but please consider making a donation to show your appreciation if you use free LiDAR data!

Fencing can now be optimally mapped thanks to high resolution, LiDAR-based digital elevation model (DEM).


Now I can do my best to plan the fences based on my paddock area needs as well as keeping the permanent segments as straight as possible and minimizing elevation change where possible.

Fences Mapped:


There will still need to be some manual cleanup to close some ends, accommodate developments in planning and work with the trees in the pasture. Here is the starting point for you to follow along!