Types of Fencing
Gates and Catch Pens
More Fencing Resources
Before you even sink your first fence pole, you need to plan out WHERE your
wire fences, mesh fences, high tensile fences, and electric fences
At a minimum, you'll need a pasture for males and a separate pasture for females. But has your herd
grows, you'll also need a separate pasture for weanlings. And you may even need to separate out
some junior herd sires.
Another consideration is pasture rotation. You'll need to set up your fences to easily rotate
your animals from one pasture to another, and from the barn to the pasture. Livestock fencing
is one of the largest start-up costs for alpaca ranching. You can get a detailed description
of the various types of available fencing at
Livestock Fencing. You can also estimate
your fencing materials and labor costs with the free
online fencing cost calculators. The following fence layouts
offer some ideas that you may want to adopt:
Center Lane Configuration
The center lane configuraion is is used at Able Oaks Ranch, and has proven to be quick successful and efficient.
The 12-ft wide center lane is wide enough to drive a tractor down and turn into the pastures. Feed bags
can be delivered to the barn at one end, and animals can be run to and from the barn at the other end.
The center lane enables me to conveniently herd alpacas to any of the pastures for pasture rotation.
Gates place inside the center lane also serve as catch pens, and ideal locations for breeding, shots,
etc. And when the grass in the center lane gets too long, animals can graze in there also.
Front Lane Configuration
The front lane confiruration is variation for those with less available acreage and/or fencing budget.
The 12-ft wide lane provides all the benefits of center lane configuration and is less expensive because
less fencing is used.
The pie configuration enables you to herd animals by "funneling" them to and from the barn. Animals
can be rotated to different pastures by moving through the barn. The delivery lane also creates some
smaller paddocks that can be used for weanlings, Jr. herdsires, new Moms, etc.
The most important consideration for fencing alpacas is to keep predators out. Alpacas
do not ordinarily challenge fences the way other livestock do. However breeding males have
been known to jump a four-foot fence, and many breeding males will put their front feet
on the top of the fence. Usually a five or six foot fence is sufficient height.
A cattle barbed-wire is NOT appropriate because it doesn't keep predators out, and it tears up the alpacas' fleeces. A better solution is a woven wire mesh fence with with a 2-inch by 4-inch mesh pattern. Stay-Tite Fencing makes an excellent Predator Control fencing that has a fixed knot at the intersection of vertical and horizontal wires. An additional high tension wire placed about 1 inch above the fence helps to keep the fencing "climbing up" the fence poles and detatch.
You will also need to prevent predators from burrowing under the fence, or your guard dogs from burrowing out of the enclosure. Steps you may take include staking the fence down at regular intervals, a charged "hot-wire" near the ground, or running a strand of barbed wire a couple of inches above the ground around the perimeter. To prevent my dog from burrowing out at favorite spots, I've buried fencing panels horizontal to the ground about 1 inch deep. She may start to dig, but quickly gets discouraged by the wire.
Your gates need to be wide enough allow access by your equipment, such as trucks, tractors, and trailers.
I recommend that all gates should be a minimum of 12 feet wide. In addition, I've welded heavy gage horse
panels with 6-inch squares to my exterior gates.
Gates are the most expensive part of a fence. If sufficient gates do not fit in the budget, plan your
fences for their future addition. It is far easier to set posts before the wire is strung.
This will allow you to simply cut out a section of fencing, tie it off to the existing posts, and hang your gate.
I've also added a 10-foot square catch pen made of temporary light-weight, aluminum panels inside the gate of both the male and female paddocks. The alpacas know that every morning they'll be let out down a fenced lane to greener pastures, and then brought back to the barn paddock before sunset. So they have been trained to enter the catch pens and wait. This makes it very easy to catch and halter them when needed.
This page was last updated June 9, 2008.