Monday, December 27, 2010

Fence Cost/Ft Estimation & Cost Share

So I applied for cost share through the NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) for fencing this upcoming year. The federal government through the NRCS funds a portion of projects that they deem as encouraging sustainable farming. Fencing of the land we logged and are clearing for pasture is on my list of things that have to be done next year, and the feds consider strong fences - which keep livestock out of creeks and prevent lead-provoking encounters with wild predators - as something they'd theoretically like to help me with. I say theoretically, b/c the original sign-up cut off date was Oct 31 - then Nov 31, then Dec 31, and now it's Jan's frustrating b/c it's a priority thing, and I'm the kind of guy that likes to know well in advance what I'm doing next year so that I can get chew on it for a while....

Anyways, so the cost share is somewhere around 50 cts/ft for high tensile (electric) fencing. Carla and I got to talking about the hassle of dealing with the government on stuff like this, and to see if it's even something we'd do, we ran some quick numbers outloud tonight. Here's what we came up with:
  1. One roll of 10.5 gauge high tensile wire is around 4,000 ft and cost around $120 (includes tax). The fence will have 5 strands so that means one roll of wire will complete approximately an 800 ft section of fence. That comes to about 15 cts/ft or .
  2. I'm guessing I'll use a t-post around every 30 ft or so. More posts closer together in the steeper sections running up the hillside and fewer posts further apart running parallel with the benches. This means around 32 t-posts per 800 ft section and, assuming around $4.25 a post new (last time I scrounged up hundreds for around $1.50/post) that comes out to around $136/section in posts. Add a dollar/post for insulators, and that'll come up to $168/section for insulators and posts.
  3. $120 + $168 = a cost of around $290/section with a cost share of $400. The extra $110 would be used for gates, gas for the truck, Quickcrete to set posts and H-braces (I'll try to find used telephone poles for the posts), etc.
So with the cost share doing all the labor myself, I'm thinking I can pretty much get my fences for free and possibly pay for the automatic post driver we'll get. Seems worth the hassle, especially compared to getting the VA to give me medical treatment for getting busted up in that's real frustration!


  1. Have you ever heard of the Powerflex posts? They don't need insulators and are supposed to be more versatile than T-posts.

    Their website is at:

    There are a number of how-to articles that will show you how to build a fence with their posts, how to build a floating brace end post (only one hole and post needed instead of two), etc.

    I don't have any firsthand experience with their posts, but there is a writeup about building a fencing system with their posts at:

    The rotational grazing thread at: also has some tips for building high-tensile fences and some info about Powerflex posts.

  2. thanks rich,

    I've heard of them and I'll look into it. I've only used t-posts, and our ground is so hard and rocky, I've pounded t-post's that have bent pretty badly. I'm curious now about how the fenceposts would work and what the cost is. I'll check it out! Thanks!

  3. Hey rich...those posts are high, the six foot ones are around 10 bucks a pop, and that's twice the price of metal t-posts. Thanks for the suggestion though. They do have some pretty good looking stuff there - like the geared reel. Thanks!

  4. I didn't realize that their prices had increased so much since the last time I looked at their website. It looks like they have also changed their post design.

    Back when I was looking at their posts, you could get an insulated 54" post for just a little bit more than what a T-post and the needed insulators would have cost.