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The Fence Post

Using Llamas for Protection

February 12, 2021 | by Joe Morrell

Llama behind fence

Protecting your Herd

A llama provides an imposing and somewhat foreign presence in the modern farmyard. They have an odd, disarming call that keeps predators at bay and sounds an alarm for your benefit--and for your herd's. In terms of protection, this is reason enough, yet this is only the beginning of their impressive credentials. 


Ranchers are overwhelmingly positive about keeping llamas, chiefly in economic terms: loss to predation is dramatically reduced, particularly for sheep farmers.

Llamas are naturally suspicious of and aggressive to dogs, foxes, coyotes, and wolves.

They appear threatening, have unique methods of defense, and are able to kill these powerful predators. The best specimens for guarding pastures are gelded males or females that have been bred and become protective. An open, fenced pasture is preferred, as hilly terrain can result in the llamas being separated from the herd, reducing protection. Llamas like to have the long view.

High Alert

You will find that their awareness of potential invaders is acute. They're constantly checking the periphery of your fenced area. Scan through this video and watch just a bit to see how alert a llama is while it surveys the area:



Llamas make a welcome companion to your herd as they integrate with pasture animals naturally and in many cases simply become one of the herd. They are very tolerant of their field companions, working well with cows, sheep, goats, and poultry. One llama will bond with sheep; however, two or more llamas will sometimes bond with each other and possibly ignore the sheep, though not always.  They can be particularly attentive to lambs and particularly attentive to newborns. Ranchers generally report that their predation problems are completely or substantially eliminated.


Llamas are not aggressive and are generally docile; often liking to keep a few feet of distance but not threatened by humans. They may spit when provoked. Their spitting is unpleasant, more like a regurgitation, but much more rare than thought, usually reserved for an extreme threat and rarely done to their near and dears--meaning you. Respect their need for distance or they may throw a sideways kick to warn you off. 

A Few Basics

Their coat is not prized like that of an alpaca, yet do need to be sheered once a year. Also, their toenails--two on each foot--need to be trimmed every 2 to 6 months. Bred as guardian animals, they were also bred as pack animals and for pulling; llamas can carry a lot of weight and capable of traveling through rough terrain. And it may be interesting to note that they often choose one area for droppings in a field, and uniquely, these can be transferred straight onto the garden.

They beat guard dogs in these ways: 

  • No barking at night
  • Respectful of fence boundaries and not interested in escape, unlike dogs
  • They eat grass; eating hay when there's no grass--usually whatever the sheep and cows are eating--as opposed to a dog which requires its own separate and costly feeding
  • Vet bills are few compared to a dog
  • They live longer than guard dogs--15 years and up

If You're Serious

Before you buy one, check out online sources and local want ads for free llamas. Due to varying circumstances, there are often free llamas available or some that are rescues. This cattle rancher has used llamas to great benefit:


Creating an Enclosure

An excellent choice for your pasture is sheep and goat fence, featuring woven 4" x 4" mesh. Made with 12½ gauge high tensile Class 3 galvanized wire for extra long life and rust resistance. Designed with goats and sheep in mind, this fence will work beautifully with the presence of a llama as it is a strong confinement fence. The 4" x 4" mesh deters sheep and goats from putting their heads through the openings. Vertical and horizontal wires are joined by strong stiff stay knots. These smooth sided knots will not injure animals and give the fence flexibility, minimizing the potential for injury. This fence will conform to hilly terrain, thanks to deeply crimped horizontal wires. Consider Farm and Field Fence, Deer and Wildlife Fence, and Horse Fence as well, depending on your pasturing needs. Add a llama behind an excellent fence and enjoy the enhanced security for your flock and your peace of mind. 

llama in field

Sheep and Goat Fence


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Topics: field fence, fixed knot, deer and wildlife fence, woven wire mesh

High Tensile Fixed Knot Fencing

August 10, 2020 | by Joe Morrell

rams standing by a fixed knot fence

High Tensile Wire: Thinner is Stronger

A fixed knot fence is effective on challenging terrain and remains rigid between posts. The .64% carbon content steel wire used in a fixed knot fence is noticeably thinner. However, strong as it is, this high tensile wire would be lost without a protective coating. This is why the requisite Class 3 galvanization, with its anti-corrosion properties, is added to offset steel's natural disintegration which enhances its cost-efficiency by delaying repair and replacement. High tensile wire is the choice when a long term fence solution is required as it remains a strong, versatile answer to a variety of fencing needs. .  


  • Lighter in weight, but stronger (thanks to its tensile strength)
  • Won't sag; stays put
  • Less need of tensioning 
  • Smaller gauge/diameter of the wire is more efficient (especially compared to heavier low carbon wire)
  • Though stiffer, ultimately, installation is easier because it doesn't have to be stretched as hard as low tensile wire; tension it and it's ready to go
  • Fewer posts are needed thanks to its strength and vertical stay wires
  • Springs back with animal impacts; it has give, but retains its shape

Fixed knot

Now, low carbon steel wire is easy to work with as well, (also known as mild steel) but it is prone to sagging, stretching and breaking more easily than high carbon-content steel wire. The carbon content for low tensile wire is roughly .28%; while this type of fence is common, it remains a shorter term answer.

Take a look:

As you'll see toward the end of this video, four wires with a similar gauge have very different breaking strength based on the carbon content:


And, very importantly:

Here's a comprehensive how-to from Bekaert that details the installation of a fixed knot fence:


Farm and Field Fence

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Topics: woven wire, high tensile wire, fixed knot

Goat Fencing Materials Considerations vs. Born Free

March 14, 2013 | by Debbie Page

goat portrait 

Getting Our Goats

When my son Daniel was 11 he announced he was getting goats. “You’re doing what?” I exclaimed. We had recently moved to a house on four acres in Massachusetts. He was looking at about two acres of grass to cut and being an entrepreneur at heart, he was determined to figure out the fastest solution to getting that job done. After much discussion, we headed to Crystal Brook Farm in Sterling, MA so Daniel could apply for a job. Ann Starbard the goatherd hired him. How could she resist when he blurted out “I want to work for you and you don’t have to pay me.” That was the beginning of our life with goats and it all started with twins: Mr. Tumnus and Sherlock Holmes. Of course, before he brought the goats to their new home he needed a shed and a fence to keep them in.

And Now We're Seven

Then Ann gave Daniel a female goat for his birthday and no one bothered to tell me that she was pregnant! And true to many goats she had triplets: Amos and Andy and Abigail. And then there was Roo. Twelve years later we still have the original twins. Fencing them in and keeping them in has had its challenges through the years. Goats do roam and love to do it. They ate all my David Austin roses, our nice big strawberry patch, and my holly bush (with the most berries ever!) one Christmas. We found the weirdest streaks on our truck last winter: they had been licking the salt off the truck! I came home late one afternoon to find them playing in my neighbor’s front yard. Have you ever tried to get seven full-grown goats home? Without the neighbors hearing you? Not an easy feat. To a goat, the grass is always greener on the other side, especially after a New England winter.

White Goat Eating Grass during Daytime

Why Fence Goats In?

There are two things you must accomplish with fencing in your goats:

  • Keeping the goats contained so you don’t lose your roses (or your neighbors' roses!) or expose them to potentially harmful shrubs such as rhododendron.
  • Keeping your goats safe from predators: coyotes, for example.


  • Type of fencing
  • Land area you want to fence
  • Size of your herd
  • Terrain
  • Your budget
  • Do it yourself or hire someone

Choices for Wire Mesh Fencing Materials

Are you thinking about getting goats? Do you already have goats in your life? Just remember one of the important things Daniel learned: A good secure fence is a necessity.
Debbie Page signature   Debbie Page picture

Goat Fence

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Topics: goat, welded wire mesh, panels, fixed knot

Deer Fence - Controlling Damage

October 11, 2012 | by Don Hillis

deer standing in field

A Trio of Vandals 

Mr. Hinckley’s fruit orchard was vandalized on Halloween. There were bent posts and wire that led to broken tree branches everywhere. It was a mess and Mr. Hinckley was livid as he surveyed the destruction in the morning.  Suddenly, a trio of vandals bounded past and out of sight. Hinckley swore at them and railed, ”Bambi, I’ll get you and your friends!”

Integrated Pest Management

Deer prefer to eat plants with soft leaves and fruit. It is not unusual for a deer to go through 5 to 10 pounds of plant matter a day. Some of their food sources include fruit trees, rhododendrons, maples, and oak. Once deer establish a pattern of behavior it is very hard to break. However, this scenario might have been avoided using an Integrated Pest Management strategy. For instance, some of the methods for reducing deer damage are population control which involves hunting, trapping, and introducing contraception to reduce the herd. Hunting is less expensive. But most areas have communities that are more tolerant of deer and the damage they cause and are against hunting them.

Reducing Damage

Education is vital for preventing and managing deer problems. Understanding the biology and ecology of the species of deer in your area is important in finding alternatives that could reduce the damage caused by deer. You should be aware of the areas they gather in and the times as well as the size of the herd. Learn the identity of the plants and vegetation that they prefer. This information can prove helpful in selecting a method for controlling damage. Before selecting your method, try to have a goal in mind of what you want to accomplish.

deer pointing forest

Passive and Active Exclusion

Repellents can be used on plants to discourage deer from eating them. They work by affecting the smell or taste and making it difficult for deer to eat. Sometimes, deer will still eat the plants if they are hungry enough.

Scare devices or noise-making devices that are produced using gas exploders, dogs, blank gunfire, and fireworks.

Fences are the most popular control method. Fences are usually limited to small areas such as orchards, gardens, high-value crops, or areas where deer are particularly abundant.  There are two general categories: passive and active exclusion.

  • Passive exclusion fences are woven wire fences that are too tall for deer to jump. They are at least eight feet high since deer can normally jump anything less than eight feet. A well-designed and effective fence will consist of 12-foot posts placed at 40-foot intervals and set to a depth of 4-feet, with woven wire attached to the posts. The bottom of the fence should be at ground level.
    • Two 4-foot widths of wire fencing joined one on top of the other and attached to the posts can be used to keep deer out. You can also use an 8-foot tall deer fence. If a taller fence is desire, a strand of high tensile electrical wire can be strung above the woven wire.
    • A fence that slants away from the area to be protected is a very effective design as well. These particular structures are often permanent and can protect an area year-round and should last at least twenty years. This method is recommended for areas that have recurring problems with deer damaging crops.
  • Active exclusion fences use electricity to keep deer out of an area. The smell or appearance of the fence attracts the deer but when they touch the fence with their noses, they receive an electrical shock. This conditions the deer to avoid the fenced area. These fences are less expensive to construct than exclusion fences but are sometimes less effective because hungry deer can learn to jump over them. These fences also require more maintenance.
Most fence structures will help limit damage to individual trees. Position plastic mesh tubes around small saplings. Place cylinders of welded wire mesh at least six feet tall around larger trees to protect from antler rubbing by bucks.

When you have the right fencing system in place to protect your orchards or plants, you can be sure the “buck” stops here!

deer behind fence

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Topics: deer fence, galvanized, fixed knot

Wire Fence Mesh Used at Franklin Park Zoo, Boston MA

October 26, 2010 | by Duncan Page

woven wire fence at Franklin Park Zoo

Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts use various types of woven wire meshes and fences.

When strength, height, and larger openings are required, woven fences that are galvanized are used. Deer and wildlife fence is a popular choice. Available in a 96" height, the mesh has graduated openings between the horizontal wires with smaller openings at the bottom of the fence. Vertical stay wires are 6" apart. 12.5 gauge high-tensile wires and fixed knot construction make it very strong. Class 3 galvanizing ensures a long lifetime. This is a versatile fence that can be used for both four-legged and two-legged animals.    

deer & wildlife fence and pasture Emus resting in shade behind fence









Another type of fence used is 2" x 2" woven non-climb mesh. Made from lighter 16 gauge wire, it can be used to make enclosures for smaller animals and birds. Top and bottom wires are heavier 14 gauge. The square deal knots that are used hold the horizontal and vertical wires securely in place, yet the fence has some flexibility which allows it to conform to the irregularities of the ground. The mesh has an open feel and is easy to see through. In the picture below the fence is used for the vertical sides of the display.

16 gauge 2"x2" mesh woven non-climb fence

These are some of the different types of fencing used at the two zoos. What types of wire meshes have you observed at the zoos you have visited?


Deer and Wildlife Fence


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Topics: zoo, galvanized, fixed knot, deer and wildlife fence

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