Wire fencing is designed to either:
- create a physical barrier that is difficult for the animal to escape through, or
- conduct electrical currents so that the shock will deter animals from escaping.
Smooth wire delivers a shock that will deter an animal from crawling through a fence. These wires vary in their diameter and strength. Most smooth wire fences are made using a heavier 12½ gauge wire, which can withstand 1,000 to 1,600 psi before breaking, depending on manufacturing specifications. Smaller diameter wires, such as 14 and 16 gauge, are more likely to break on impact, and are better used for subdivision fencing. Smooth wires are galvanized to resist rust.
Barbed wire consists of two wires twisted together with short points (barbs) of wire incorporated every four to five inches. The points are designed to inflict pain when an animal tries to pass through a fence. Barbed wire can be an option for predator control, and you can use it in areas where electrification is not possible. However, some do not recommend it due to the increased risk of injury to livestock.
Some wires are coated in plastic or vinyl to make them more visible. It may also have carbon strips or wire filaments incorporated into the plastic or vinyl to carry an electric current.