Barbed wire is a ubiquitous presence in both urban and country environments as farmers, landowners, and commercial property owners utilize it for all sorts of security and animal management purposes. So, what’s its story and how can we best use barbed wire?
What Is Barbed Wire And What Is It Used For?
Barbed wire (also known as barb wire) is a type of steel fencing wire, usually but not exclusively zinc coated by a galvanizing process. It has sharp edges or points positioned at regular intervals across the whole length of the wire. The barbs are made from twisted wire with either two or four sharp points protruding from each ‘barb’. The sharp points are normally spaced around 10-13cm apart to prevent manipulation of the wire.
These points are very effective in deterring unwanted visitors, securing property or land, and keeping animals in or out of a specific area. It is so successful because at a relatively low cost it acts to prevent unwanted access. Anyone or any animal that comes into contact with the barbs will be in discomfort, or even injured and the barbs themselves, because of their shape, easily snag clothing or flesh. As much as anything, barbed wire acts as a visual deterrent as once encountered it is not easily forgotten.
In the domestic, commercial, and agricultural sectors, it’s a much less expensive and easy to install option in comparison to more high-tech security fences. It only requires basic fencing equipment and tools such as fence posts, wire cutters, and fixings (such as staples) for installation and can be constructed quickly. Common varieties of barbed wire including high tensile barbed wire, mild steel barbed wire, and concertina barbed wire tape. Barbed wire also comes in lots of different lengths, and thickness options according to end-use and budget.
The Brief History Of Barbed Wire:
American farmer Joseph Glidden is generally credited as being the inventor of a type of barbed wire in 1867 when he was exploring ways in which he could prevent animals from finding their way into his garden. However, several other people were responsible for popularising the concept including John Warne Gates. Initially, American farmers were reluctant to adopt the new concept, but sales took off from 1876 once farmers could see how effective the wire was in containing animals (mainly cattle). Indeed, barbed wire is often credited as the invention that tamed the West, as the open range was increasingly sectioned off by barbed wire fencing.
From being used exclusively in farming, its potential use for other applications soon became apparent, and since the First World War, barbed wire has remained a staple of any military conflict or battle zone.
Types Of Barbed Wire:
There are different types of barbed wire depending on your requirements. Ideally, your barbed wire will be manufactured to some sort of certified standard so that you can be sure you have a high-quality product. Here are some of the different types of barbed wire products:
High Tensile Barbed Wire:
This type of barbed wire has a significantly higher breaking strain than low tensile. It’s more flexible, resilient and can therefore be used with fence posts that are spaced much further apart.
High tensile barbed wire is available in several width options and many lengths. 2.0mm width is most suitable for permanent stand-alone fencing or can be utilized in partnership with options such as high tensile stock netting.
Bezinal coated premium high tensile barbed wire, also at 2.0mm width, is a more expensive and premium option, that lasts around four times longer than standard galvanized wire. This is because the flexible zinc-alloy Bezinal layer actively draws corrosion away from the core steel wire.
It is often supplied on wooden reels for safe ease of use, and with hessian handles to be easier to carry. It is ideal for use on the top or bottom of stock fencing or use within a three or five-strand cattle fence. It's thicker than standard wires add both strength and durability and high tensile means it has been pre-strained so it will not stretch as much as mild steel options.
Barbed Wire Mild Steel:
Known for being the most cost-effective option for both farmers and landowners, mild steel barbed wire tends to be the most popular choice but isn’t as strong as high tensile. A usual configuration will be a twin strand with four-point barbs. Again, it’s worth checking that the wire you select has both been galvanized to BSEN 10244-2 Class A and manufactured to BSEN 10223-1 standard.
Concertina Barbed Wire Tape:
Many people use razor wire as a secondary line of defense. It’s commonly used by businesses to top their fencing and effectively deter unwanted visitors. A standard wire diameter would be 2.5mm and it is most often seen in a visible open coil configuration. Concertina razor wire is manufactured from galvanized steel strip, die-stamped to create razor-sharp barbs at regular intervals. Because of its particularly dangerous design, there are many regulations for use including the use of warning signs.
How Long Does Barbed Wire Last?
How long barbed wire lasts will depend on the quality and width of the steel used and its type of coating. Overall, the most barbed wire tends to start showing signs of rust after 8-20 years of use. However, if the wire is coated, for example, Bezinal, this increases its anti-corrosion properties, and it can therefore last much longer. Some premium barbed wire can outlive standard barbed wire by as much as four times.