By Ian Smith

Calculating what you need for a fence is often an area where mistakes are made and so here’s some useful tips for calculating and assessing materials required to erect a stock fence so that you don’t have to keep re-ordering!


Try to measure your fence as accurately as possible with a land wheel, or phone app if available – or for the older generation pace it out.

Add 5%, because the last thing you want is to order 300m of materials and your fence is 315m and you are short of items to complete the job. A few metres of wire and 10 stobs are also useful for urgent repairs.


Use strainer posts at all ends and where you intend straining up netting, usually not more then 100m apart.

Use turner posts at any bends and dips.

Strainer posts are typically 8-inches diameter and turners 7-inches diameter.

Best to use good quality, either treated larch, pine or creosoted.

No 3 – STAYS

Always use proper stays and not just regular stobs.

Stays need to be 7ft long by 4 or 5 inches diameter, or 4 x 4 inches square.


Stock fencing is normally netting and two wires either two barbed or one barbed and one plain.

If using high tensile netting, stobs spaced at either 3m or 4m centres. If using mild steel, C grade or B grade netting 2m centres is preferable, depending on stock pressure.

Best to use good quality stobs normally 5-foot 6-inches long (6-foot long if in soft ground).

Best to use square treated larch or pine, 3 x 3 inches, or 4 x 4 inches.

Creosoted stobs also 3 x 3 inches square or round 3/4 or 4/5 inches are very good, but are more expensive.

No 5 – WIRE

For conditions where stock pressure is high or where ground conditions dictate that you don’t want to revisit this site for a long time, B8/80/15 heavy grade netting works best.

C8/80/15 medium grade netting is the more economical option and is often used in conjunction with round stakes.

High tensile netting is also a popular choice and makes a really good fence, especially where stobs are spaced at 3m centres often with one electric wire above.

No 6 – GATES

Always use separate posts for hanging gates.

Gates in excess of 13ft wide require heavier 8/9-inch diameter hanging posts.

Gates up to 12ft normally require 8-inch diameter posts.

Don’t use drive in bottom hinges as they tend to come loose when posts start to deteriorate. Use hooks to go right through top and bottom with a nut and washer.


Order rails for any possible gaps below fences and for at fence ends and to join gate posts to fence posts. A 4-inch x 1 ½-inch rail is the most popular size to use.

A 10kg tub of staples is adequate for approximately 400m fence (20kg 800m), with 40 x 4mm staples being the most popular size.

If the top wire is to be electrified, use 2.5mm high tensile plain wire, a 25kg coil provides 600m of wire.

For electric fencing projects, one insulator per stob is required and horseshoe type strain insulators at all ends.

Where fitting heavy-duty cable below gates, it’s a good idea to sleeve this in plastic pipe for extra protection.

Do you need nails to fit rails?

Any places where the ground is exceptionally soft will require a longer stake.

Occasionally, a longer straining post is needed where the ground is soft or falling away. With this, 10ft is a good length for extra grip.

Finally, fencing is like most things, the more you put into it the more you get out of it.

Approx material costs:

High quality fence £3.25/£3.75 per m

Standard economical fence £2.30/£2.50 per m

Lifespan of materials:

High quality fence 25 years – 0.14p per annum/m

Standard economical fence 12 years – 0.20p per annum/metre. Just goes to show that quality pays in the long run!!

* Ian Smith is a director of JSF with 40 years experience in fencing contracting and material sales.