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View Poll Results: Reuse old barbwire?
Yes 22 73.33%
No 8 26.67%
Voters: 30. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-09-2018, 03:54 PM
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Lightbulb Re-using barbed wire

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I have a property that used to be a cattle farm. The man that owned it, retired a long time ago and had removed all the posts and the barbed wire, coiled it up, and put it out in the woods/pastures (ask my tires how I discovered some of that!)...

I am in the process of planning new fences. I was going to do just electric, but then it occurred to me that maybe I could reuse the thousands and thousands of feet of barbed wire in alternating rows with the electric.

So my question for you all is whether it is a good idea to reuse the wire? My thinking is that I have it, and I'd rather make use of it. It would make a good backup if my power goes out or my fence energizer dies. However, my concern is that putting the wire under tension might have painful consequences if it falls apart.

Not being that familiar with barbed wire longevity, I was just wondering people's thoughts.

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Old 05-09-2018, 04:07 PM
scatter cat scatter cat is offline
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Scrap prices are up a little get rid of it. Old barbwire becomes brittle and breaks as it rusts and ages. If there's enough scrap you might be able to buy several rolls of new from the proceeds.
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:19 PM
rtbanger rtbanger is offline
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This would not even be a consideration. Think untangling a giant slinky with spikes. Not worth your time or all the tetanus shots and stitches. What scatter said, grab a few old ratchet straps, bale it as tight as you can and scrap it if you can. I have seen damaged wire snap back and wrap around a guys head. He was luck he didn't lose an eye.(he wasn't a pretty boy so the scars never really bothered him.)
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:20 PM
ajole ajole is online now
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Seems like everywhere I have ever been, ranchers do exactly that...toss the old wire in a heap somewhere, and forget about it until you have more to throw in the pile.

I voted to reuse the wire...but that was before I read your situation.

Depending on how well it was coiled up, the number of kinks, how short it was cut, and the lengths of runs you may be more aggravation than it's worth to re-use it, even if the steel is still decent.

We had a home made rack on our truck, we could unroll 5 strands at once, so 1/4 mile of fence could be paid out along the fence line, ready to pick up, stretch and clip. If we had had to hand lay the lengths from some junk wire, put in splices at odd places, and deal with any other issues, it would have doubled or tripled the time and effort, or labor cost, involved.

So unless the labor costs much less than the wire...I'd use new wire.
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:21 PM
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Is it rusted? Not the barbs but the wire itself. If the wire is still coated with galvanization then it’s good for another 40+ years. Might need to cut off what was in contact with dirt, Barbed wire lasts a seriously long time. Only fences we have that are brittle are very old or that spot gets flooded semi often. One place has a fence well over 100 years old and when that wire breaks you just replace the whole strand, but if yours isn’t too rusted and it’s still flexible when you bend it then you can use it.
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:44 PM
BravoLimaDelta BravoLimaDelta is offline
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We reuse old non-rusty wire for fixing or patching existing fences and water gates. We have a large creek that runs through our place and we get fences washed out fairly often. For long runs, I would use new wire.
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:57 PM
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It lasts lifetimes. Sometimes when you wish it wouldn't.

Just a matter of if the cost of new wire vs handling old wire is worth it to you.
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Old 05-09-2018, 06:35 PM
hardcalibres hardcalibres is offline
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When you mix electrified plain wire with earthed barbed wire, the following can/will happen:

1) When an animal tries to push through the fence, they can hook the electrified wire onto the adjacent barbed wire and short the fence out. It then will remain shorted until you find the fault and unhook the hot wire from the barbed.

2) If an animal gets shocked by the fence, it can get tangled/caught by the barb wire and get repeatedly shocked and injured. In some parts of the world, electrification of barbed wire is illegal for this reason.

Don't mix the two systems - it is not a good thing.....
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Old 05-11-2018, 10:32 PM
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Tripletrey Tripletrey is offline
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Dad was really good at finding auction items to use and re-use.

From my experience: If the person who wound up the wire did so in big rolls of say 4-5 feet diameter; these are still good to reuse. Try and unroll some and see if it rolls easy or if you are getting breaks once in awhile. If its too tight or rusted it's better off to toss them.

If they were rolled tight (some people wind on a tractor wheel extension) this usually won't unroll with any success. The roll is just too small and you end up with a lot of breaks and kinks.

Rolling wire is an art but worth it if you ever need to re-use any.

Good Luck

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Old 05-11-2018, 10:55 PM
HawkCreek HawkCreek is offline
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Like others have said if it was rerolled properly it is totally reusable. Just like Tripletrey said 4-5' diameter rolls are ideal. I've re-used wire that was 20 years old and had been through a fire and it was still stretched just as taught as the new stuff. If it's rusted too much then ya it's junk, you just have to look at it and decide.

As far as animals crossing electrical and barbed wires or getting caught in either... That's a **** poor fence. Wires are stretched tight and should be spaced so crossing isn't an issue. I've never seen an animal get stuck in a properly spaced and tightened fence. And old ignored loose sloppy fence is another story. They take maintenance just like anything else.
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Old 05-15-2018, 02:45 PM
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Perfect! The roles are rolled quite large (probably 4 feet or so). At least most of what I have found....

Now, I just have to crawl over some poison ivy and pull that stuff out of the woods... Anybody got any calamine lotion???
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Old 05-15-2018, 04:19 PM
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Yes. My grandfather used to save and reuse it all the time. The only criteria was that it not be rotted away and that the barbs were still relatively sharp. Sorta defeats the purpose of barb wire is it's not still pointy..
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Old 05-18-2018, 05:05 PM
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At an agricultural station in nearby AL i saw electrified barb wire. It was either 2 or three strands and low. A few few away from it was a 8 or 10 foot high electrified fence of multiple non-barb strands. The fencing was meant to preclude feral hogs and white tail deer from getting at an experimental field planting.
The station was:
Gulf Coast Research and
Extension Center

With its location one mile east of Mobile Bay and 30 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center in Fairhope enjoys a climate thatís ideal for a highly diversified research program, and the GCREC takes full advantage of that.
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Old 05-18-2018, 07:00 PM
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The only two issues I have ever had reusing wire is untangling an stretching it. If a roll seems to have too many tangles get the next roll. When using old wire I do not use it as new wire stretching it to music wire tension. It is too often damaged from twist, rust or prior use to stretch tight. It is perfect for the patch work often done by one man on a fence line where walk in repairs are made. Barbed wire is used as hot wire frequently. I think a roll of wire is close to 50$ now. One roll dose not last long at all when building a fence. I would use as much of it as I could but I always have so it would be noting new to me.
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:04 PM
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Truck Vet Truck Vet is offline
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I own both old (over 40 years) and new barbed wire. The old stuff is much heavier but I would guess my new stuff is cheap and I could have bought better grade.

I untangle it, and put it in places where intruders my go. Never had much problem because I have patience.

So even if you don't use it on your fence, you may be able to use it some where else. Maybe inside a shed that teens may break into in the dark for instance. You turn on the light and its easy to avoid.
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Old 05-19-2018, 06:48 AM
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This is part of a series I happened across, this is on the history of barb wire, its quite interesting. part of a series on 50 inventions that changed the modern economy.

a factoid from it

In 1876 the factories made 50kms of barb wire, but by 1880 420,000kms enough to cirlce the world 10 times over
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Old 05-21-2018, 12:31 PM
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Runamok Runamok is offline
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Depends on how much you are doing and how much time you want to put in. The new stuff would go up faster and last longer but obviously cost more.

Personally, I wouldn't mess with it. I would much rather know that the fence is good than have to cobble something together and then also ave to deal with increased maintenance.
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Old 05-23-2018, 01:59 PM
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We have three and four rail wooden fences. No barbed wire for horses, much to my chagrin when we boarded two young heifers for the neighbor who managed to break more than a few boards.

But as a teen, I did help a dairy farmer replace his wire fence. We striped it and coiled the old stuff as well as possible then strung new wire while replacing poles. I managed to get two tetanus shots that summer as many of my wounds got infected and the doctor thought a second shot was worth it.

Then in the military I had to string barbed wire a few times along with Concertina wire. Added up getting a nice scar on my lower leg that I thought was a forever scar but it has finally faded. Oh, and a tetanus shot for that.

I give farmers and ranchers big credit for working with that stuff. Tough job and blood can be part of it. Plus it's hard work. One moment of carelessness, you get stabbed or cut. I would not want to use old rusted wire.
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Old 05-23-2018, 02:46 PM
America's Patriot America's Patriot is offline
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I did 5 strand electric with two strand barbed wire above that. The barbed wire I used was a bunch that the neighbor had on the side of his house and said I could have. That extra couple of strands really made a height difference and I've never had a goat jump the fence. I electrified 3 of the 5 strands of wire and every year or so, I would alternate in a random fashion so they wouldn't get used to avoiding specific wires.
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barbed wire, electric fence, farm, fencing, livestock, recycling

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