Wildfire can leave posts damaged and in need of replacement, but the barbed wire could still be usable, according to a study.
Some fencing across Texas Panhandle may not need to be replaced
Don’t assume that a grass fire has damaged the barbed wire on a fence.
That’s the message of one Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist in Amarillo to ranchers who saw wildfire rip through their fenced grassland beginning March 6.
“Fences are one of the range developments often damaged in fires,” said Dr. Ted McCollum, beef cattle specialist in Amarillo.“Certainly burned wooden posts and stays have to be replaced. But the damage to the barbed wire may be less than it appears and one assumes.
“Having the ability to reuse the barbed wire from a fence after a grass fire can reduce the recovery costs for the landowner.”
Dr. Steve Amosson, AgriLife Extension economist in Amarillo, estimated fencing could be the second major expense tied to the fires on the 480,000 acres burned. Estimating half will be repaired and half replaced, he said the cost could be around $6 million to ranchers in the Texas Panhandle.
Amosson said an estimated 975 miles of fence were affected. To repair the fence, the cost is $2,500 per mile; to replace the fence, the cost is $10,000 per mile.
“Research provides information ranchers can use to make decisions related to fences,” said Danny Nusser, AgriLife Extension regional program leader. “Knowing that a fence is stable and repairs are sufficient could be valuable in making economical decisions.”
Intense flames sweeping away grassland may not have damaged the barbed wire on fences surrounding pastures.
Research was conducted by Oklahoma State University to examine the effects of grassland fires on barbed wire, he said. The study examined Class 1, 12 1/2-gauge, double-strand barbed wire.
The wire was about 14 years old when the study was conducted, McCollum explained. All of the wire examined in the study originated from the same lot at purchase. The fences were constructed from the wire 13-14 years before the study. Samples of wire were collected from these fences and unused wire from the original purchase lot that had been stored since purchase.
According to the study, wire collected from the fences had been subjected to grass fires zero times, one time, two times or six times during the previous 13 years. These grass fires occurred in the dormant season between February and April.
The unused wire and wire collected from the fences was examined for effects of fire frequency on breaking strength and zinc coating remaining on the wire, McCollum said.