Fencing Laws & Design

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Fence Laws
Mindy Hubert, Small
Acreage Field Specialist
http://legis.state.sd.us/statutes
“Good Fences make Good
Neighbors”
 If
neighbors can agree on fence
construction and maintenance, then
there is no issue.
 “Unless
otherwise agreed
upon”…precedes all law
Common Issues
 One


landowner doesn’t have livestock
Still benefits from fence-keeps livestock out
Common on newer acreages adjacent to
ranches
SD Codified Law 43-23-1

Every owner of land shall be liable for one-half of the
expense of erecting & maintaining a partition fence.

However, no landowner is liable for such expense if:


neither landowner keeps livestock on the affected tract
of land
neither landowner derives any other substantial benefit
from the fence for a period of 5 years from the date of
erection or repair of the fence.
SD Codified Law 43-23-2


Each owner of adjoining lands shall build the half
of fence on their right hand when standing upon
their own land and facing the line upon which the
proposed fence is to be built.
Many landowners agree to otherwise
Common Issues: neglectful

One landowner (with livestock) neglects their
fence repair duties

43-23-5: Owner of the adjoining land may serve
upon the delinquent owner a notice in writing
demanding :


delinquent owner shall erect or repair a legal
fence along one-half of such line, describing it
within 30 days from the date of the service of the
notice.
Frozen earth exception
 43-23-7
protects a delinquent owner from
building a partition fence when ground is
frozen.
Common Issues: neglectful
 If
still no action by negligent landowner,
the aggrieved owner may:



Recover cost of erecting or repairing the
partition fence in a civil action
Recover compensation for the time spent
Place a lien on negligent landowner
 Refer
to lawyer if answer not clear
Common Issues:
 One

landowner has buffalo (or elk)
Same laws apply, but owner of “specialized”
livestock must pay additional costs over those
of legal fence.
Common Issues: Trespassing
Livestock
 Chapter





40-28:
Permitting adult male animals to run at large
Castration lawful for adult male animal
running at large
Running at large defined.
Liability for trespass by livestock--Exception
where fence inadequate.
Trespass liability not applicable to unfenced
lands within national forest
Common Issues: Livestock
“Running at Large”
 Petty
offense to let male animals “run at
large” 40-28-1

=intentionally left outside of legal fence by
owner/manager
 Stallion
> 18 months old
 Bull > 10 months
 Ram or boar > 8 months

Lawful castration allowed under 40-28-2
If neighbors cannot agree to
otherwise, then a legal fence
must be built
legal fence

sound wood posts



concrete posts



6.5‘ x 4”, firmly set 2 feet in the earth
not over 30 feet apart
6‘ x 4” or larger
reinforcing rod
steel posts



At least 5.5‘ long
7 inches in the earth
not over 20 feet apart
legal fence

combination of steel and concrete/wood posts in
a ratio of < or = 3 steel posts to 1 of wood or
concrete
posts must be braced at ends, corners, gateways

4 strands of ordinary barbed fencing wire shall be

firmly stretched & securely attached

strands @18”, 28”, 38”, and 48” from the earth.

A deviation of not more than 2” in wire spacing is
in compliance.
Fence Design
Permanent & Temporary
Permanent Fences
 Consider
nature of livestock being
contained



Horses
Sheep & goats
Cattle
Permanent Fences: Horses
 Due
to flight nature, fences are major
cause of injuries
 Five feet is minimum required height for
most horses (nose height)
 Better to erect new fences than put
“band aids” on old fences
Permanent Fences: Horses
 Polyvinyl
 Split
Rail
 Electric/high tensile
 Barbed wire (& Modified)
Polyvinyl: $5-$7 per lineal foot

Advantages




Attractive
Minimal maintenance
Generally safe
Disadvantages



Professional installation often required
Cross-fence contact is possible (depending on
height)
Sections of fence can break or shatter,
depending on quality
Split Rail (~$3-$4 per lineal ft.)

Cost varies with wood type, # of boards, etc.


Advantages:





Cedar, oak or treated pine often used
Provides rustic charm to properties
Highly visible and relatively safe
not likely to cause physical harm unless the
collision is hard enough to break the rail
less likely to get a hoof hung up
Disadvantages:
 Maintenance expense can be significant
Permanent Electric (<$1/ft.)

Advantages




Keeps horses away from fence line
Inexpensive
Safe, if operating properly
Disadvantages




Grounding issues in dry climates
Harder for livestock & wildlife to see (smooth
wire)
Training period needed for horses
More maintenance/fire hazard
Barbed Wire ($1.10/ft. installed)

Advantages




Cheap
Often in place when new landowner arrives
Lasts decades
Disadvantages

Can cause severe damage to horses


Especially in smaller areas or pastures
Young or inexperienced horses need a
babysitter horse or intensive “training period”
Modified Barbed Wire
 Add
an electric strand to the top of
existing barbed wire fence.

Keeps livestock on both sides of fence
away
 Add
extended insulators to metal posts to
set hot wire away from fence

Does not keep animals on other side of
fence away from fence line
Temporary Fence
Electric
Why Temporary?
 Ideal
•
•
•
for short-term/rotational grazing
Horses are very selective
Allows for more grazing control
Great for hard to fence areas or driveways
 Quick
and easy set up/tear down
 Should NOT be used long-term
Types of Temporary Fence
 Usually
constructed of electric materials,
although may not always be electrified
 Electric tape or rope



With appropriate insulators
1 or 2 strands sufficient
Something attached to increase visibility.
Sheep &
goats
Fence Requirements
Sheep & Goat Fence/ woven
wire < $1/ ft.
~48” tall

•
4” or > square openings (5”x6”)
•
Helps keep predators out/livestock in
•
Install close to ground and keep tight
•
May need electric standoff wire on the
interior of the fence to eliminate the
possibility of heads getting caught in large
square openings
Electrified netting < $1/ ft.

Comes in rolls that
may include
fiberglass posts for
easy installation (For
temporary uses)
Line Fence for
Sheep/Goats
•
•
•
•
•
Cheap= < $0.25/ft.
Many combinations of
materials (usually
electric)
Posts are fiberglass,
metal or wood.
Fence is high-tensile,
rope or polywire.
Frequent stretching
required.
Combination Woven/ HT
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