A mid-winter pasture fence safety check

Braving cold temperatures to assess winter damage may not be fun, but it is an important part of maintaining safe pastures.

Winter isn’t the most inviting season for walking your bleak, frozen pastures, but if recent days have brought snow, ice or high winds to your area, now’s the time to do a fence safety check and ensure your perimeter is secure. And although it may be tempting to saddle up for this task, it’s best to walk the fence line instead—you’ll be better able to spot needed repairs. Here are some things to look for:

Winter weather can take a toll on your fencing, putting your horse’s safety at risk.

• broken or weakened fence boards • slack smooth steel wire fencing in need of tightening or refastening • loose or projecting nails • wobbly posts or support braces • sagging gates • frayed, broken or inoperable electric fences. Use a fence tester to make sure they’re “hot.” • downed tree limbs, especially from toxic red maple or cherry trees, and other hazardous materials.

If the fence is structurally sound or you have an alternate pasture for your horses, you may be able to put off addressing any problems you find until the weather improves. But assessing the damage and making your “to do” list now is an important first step to a permanent fix.

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