Barbed wire fencing, developed in the late 19th century, helped reshape the American West by providing ranchers with a low-cost, effective tool for controlling livestock. Today, those same attributes continue to make barbed wire fence a popular choice among farmers and it is also widely used for security purposes
It is important to note that barbed wire and razor wire, while often used interchangeably, are not the same. Barbed wire is made from two or more strands of twisted wires and is more of a deterrent, while razor wire contains sharp cutting surfaces that can cause serious injury. Razor wire is typically only used for high security areas and never for livestock. Barbed wire is galvanized and made either from high-tension wire (stronger, flexible, more durable) or soft wire (weaker and less durable). Two or four sharp barbs are spaced approximately every 4 to 5 inches.
A standard barbed wire fence for livestock usually stands around 50 to 55 inches high is supported by steel posts spaced 15 to 25 feet apart. The number of wire strands you’ll need per length of fence depends on the animal being kept in or out. Sheep, for example, need seven strands, while cattle and horses generally need between 4 and 7.
Aside from its agricultural uses, barbed wire is an excellent security measure. Barbed wire added to the top of an existing fence—often timber of chain link—consists of pole extensions with 3 or 6 strands of wire running between them.
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