Publications > General Livestock > Basic Horse Care > Straight-Rail Fences

Tips for Building Straight-Rail Fences

Lyle T. Stoltman
Small Farms Program Manager

There aren't many sights so pleasing to look at when on a county drive than a beautifully built straight-rail fence. Besides being attractive, these types of fences can be very functional and dependable if built properly.

With livestock fencing along riparian areas becoming necessary in many places, landowners are looking into this type of fencing as an alternative to wire or electric fences

The most important factor in determining the effectiveness of a fence is how well the posts are set. A post for this type of fence has to be set deep, at least 36" (line posts for wire fences do not have to be set this deep). When backfilling the post holes, aggressively compact the soil around the post in intervals of 3" to 4" at a time. Do not put any rocks larger than 2" in diameter back into the hole.

A poorly set post may seem "good enough", to you, but when a 1200 pound horse leans against the post it can move rather easily. Do yourself a favor, do the extra work now and be done with it.

One of the most common problems with a rail or board fence is that the rails can be kicked off by livestock. This can be eliminated by always nailing the boards on the inside of the posts. Placing boards in this fashion can be tricky on corners. Use the following illustrations to get by some of these problems.