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What is a “fence out” State?

At Buzz, if we’d taken up legal studies instead of fence building, we’d specialize in fence law. If you don’t believe this is a rich area, check out this interactive map prepared by the National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Click on any state and you learn all the relevant fence laws. The pdf for our great state of Texas is 14 pages long, and that’s one of the shorter ones!

One of the interesting areas of fence law is so-called “fence in” or “fence out” states. This pertains to a philosophical question regarding livestock: Is it a property owner’s responsibility to fence his or her livestock in, or to fence neighbors’ livestock out?

Fence In vs Fence Out

Generally speaking, you’ll find fence out states in parts of the west where there’s plenty of land and not too many people. Wyoming is a classic example.  In 2018, Wyoming had 577,737 people and 1.32 million cows. Contrast that with New York, which has 19.54 million people and 1 million beef and dairy cows. Then think how many people drive cars, and how the more livestock stray onto roads, the more accidents will happen. This population ratio justifies many states’ decision to fence in.

However, back to Wyoming. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average ranch in Wyoming is 2,649 acres. At Buzz, we dream of building such a gloriously huge fence. However, it’s unrealistic that all the ranchers will have time and money to build and maintain this much fence. After all, they’re busy caring for the cows. So Wyoming chooses fence out laws.

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Fencing Meets Common Sense

Even in states with lots of open range, anybody with common sense will still see the need for strategically located fences. For example, in Texas, federal and state highways are considered closed range. So if you’re a Texan and your cow mosies onto I-10 and meets its maker, you’re potentially liable.  Especially if the driver of the car who hits Bossie meets her or his maker, too. So let’s use common sense, follow the laws, and fence in where it will protect public safety.

Protect your Livestock

Are you the proud owner of a herd of cattle or other livestock? Do you need help protecting them from cars, wolves, coyote, bears, bobcats, lynx or other threats? At Buzz, we have lots of experience in safely confining livestock. If you’re concerned with fencing your livestock in, give us a call today.

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