River Cottage Australia

The Basics of Fencing Maintainence

Maintaining fence lines can be a daunting task for beginners, but it’s an imperative skill to have. Armed with a few simple techniques and tools allows you to get the job done – quickly, cheaply and with minimal fuss.

The most common way to repair broken wires, both plain and barbed is to tension them with wire strainers and join them with straightforward fencing knots. With just a couple of tools (a strainer and a pair of plyers), Aaron shows Paul how to fix a broken wire (a very common repair job) and how to attach a wire to a strainer post.

The fencing on the farm starts with two strainer posts, adjoined to a 45-degree stay, which take all the strain and stop it falling over. In between these strainer posts are your pickets, which you spread out at regular intervals to direct the barbed wire along the contour of your choice. These wire don’t take any of the weight. The wires need to be strained tight to lessen the chance of livestock escaping. However fixing broken wires is often a regular job on the farm.

Maintaining livestock can be a real headache if your fencing is in bad shape. Not only do you risk losing them, but if they get into your garden or veggie patch then they can also cause havoc on your fragile plants

Goats tend to burrow rather than jump, and it is the loose wires they find while stretching underneath that will generally let them through. Keeping wires tight and running a barbed wire along the bottom of the fence are the best ways to discourage this behaviour.

Extra plain wire
Plyers for completing knots and cutting wire
Chain wire strainer

1) Hook the strainers on to each end of broken wire and work the lever, push from one link of the chain to the next, until tight
2) Use the wedgelock, pulling tight until very firm
3) Put a couple of loops in the wires. Start at one end, grab the tail, come back about 6 inches or so and pull over your plyers to create the loop. Twist around the wire three tight turns, close together so that they will never slip. That will never come undone if done properly.
4) Do the same to the other end
5) Next up, hold them up and line up to see how much plain wire you need, then attach to the two loops together and finish off your repair job.
6) So grab your spare plain wire, double over and line up.
Then cut to length.
Grab the folded end and put a hook kink in it and up through your loop
Pull over the plyers again and twist round wire, like you did earlier. Same method
Now do the same to the other side. Feed tail up through the loop and same style knot here
Lastly take the strainers off. Done!


1. Always wear the correct personal safety equipment when fencing. Wear safety glasses and gloves to avoid possible injury from sharp points.

2. When straining it is important to remember your positioning behind the strainer: if you are pulling back don’t be in front and vice versa. Because if the wire breaks or slips off the strainer then that force will cause the metal bar on the strainer to fly and potentially hit your hand or arm, causing a fracture.

3. Complete periodic visual inspections. When you are out feeding stock or something then it is always worth having a strainer and plyers with you in order to carry out repairs as soon as you see them.


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