In my quest for a low-maintenance, attractive and safe fence for my horses, I discovered an Ohio-based company called RAMM that has a very interesting product line up.
RAMM makes several kinds of fence, including its Flex Fence which is made of a high tensile wire encased in a polyethylene strip that mimics the appearance of traditional board fence. According to one of RAMM's customer service representatives, Flex Fence is extremely durable and forgiving.
When I asked what might happen if I gave the fence an accidental love tap with my tractor bucket (it's been know to happen), she said that the fence would probably be just fine because each rail can withstand up to 4200 lbs. of force before breaking.
She even knew of one client who accidentally drove a four-wheeler into the fence. Apparently, the fence survived the incident just fine: it stretched to accommodate the four-wheeler which subsequently became stuck in the fence. She said that it took a few people to pull the four-wheeler out of the fence, but everything was all well in the end.
This sounded pretty good to me.
Another advantage of this fence is that it is very visible, something which is important as horses age because their vision will supposedly decline as they get older.
RAMM Flex-fence is also supposed to be stronger and safer than PVC fence which, though it is very attractive, isn't really made for fencing animals. PVC can shatter on impact, so the customer service representative told me that if PVC fence is used for livestock, it should always be used in combination with an electrified hot wire to encourage the livestock to keep their distance from it.
Anyhow, in terms of installation, Flex-fence must be installed using wood posts, and the recommendation is the use fairly hefty posts at a relatively close placing for this fence: 5" round posts 8' tall, placed every 12'. At our local Tractor Supply, the recommended line posts run about $15 each.
And, if you want your posts to match your fence (i.e. to be white instead of wood-colored), you will either have to paint your posts or purchase white sleeves for the posts, at the sky-high price of $19.95 per sleeve. If you choose to paint the posts, the paint will run you $88.00 per five gallons, which is enough to paint 50 posts, according to RAMM.
As far as the fence pricing goes, if you fenced five acres with a four rail Flex-fence system, it would run you about $4/foot, not including posts.
If you want a more affordable fence that combines some of the advantages of Flex-fence with a cheaper alternative, you can make a fence that has a strong, visible Flex-fence top rail and use RAMM's Raceline coated wire product for the bottom strands. The Raceline wire is roughly pencil-diameter, and only costs about fifty cents a foot, but is made of the same material as the Flex-fence, though it has a weaker break strength (1400 lbs.) because it is thinner.
Also, if you have a horse that leans on the fence, you may want to combine the Flex-fence with RAMM's Shockline electric wire.
According to the customer service representative, all of RAMM's fence rail materials are manufactured in the USA by RAMM. Therefore, if you have any issues with the product or need to make a warranty claim, you won't get as much runaround as you would if you used a product that was sold by a third-party dealer. With RAMM products, you are dealing directly with the manufacturer.
As far as installing it goes, the RAMM representative said that she could recommend an installer, but that installation usually costs just as much as the materials do. Ouch. Happily, she said that many homeowners and farm owners have installed this fence themselves and that RAMM encourages that practice because their products are fairly easy to use. She mentioned that in some areas, it may even be possible to rent a skid-steer with an auger attachment and use that to install the fence posts with, even if you don't own a tractor.
It seems like RAMM makes a pretty top notch product. Now I just need to find a pile of money to buy this fence with.