A rush to build a simple barb wire fence is the first step in a journey of many future repairs. Do not under estimate the many forces that are exerted on a high tension fence like a barb wire, high tension wire, or electric fence. There are more forces than a goat rubbing up against a pole to be concerned about. Without good fence design and planning your simple fence could be your "fence from hell" the next year.
Before there was barb wire cattlemen and ranchers of all sorts tried many fencing option to corral their live stock with little success. Some of the most common methods where to plant native thorny bushes around the perimeter of a pasture to contain animals. The Osage Orange was a common plant species that seemed to control the livestock. In 1874 Joseph F. Glidden received a patent for barbed wire. Before the manufacturing and distribution of "Thorny Wire" it was very hard for a working ranch or farm to exist because the loss and theft of livestock. Barb wire fences which began to use the wood from the Osage Orange bush as post for barb wire fence started to define borders of large land plots allowing ranchers to raise and sell there cattle. Barb wire has be hailed as important to the nation as the six shooter or the locomotive.
The most important component of a tensioned barb wire fence are the corner post and bracing post. When strung over distance and tightened barb wire can have as much as a half ton of tension from end to end. It is very important that the corner post be large enough to withstand the force. In addition that force needs to be distributed over a number of post so the post do not simply pull over sideways. The best method is using large round treated wood post in a "H" configuration and if the ground is softer than normal or the tension is higher it might be advised to use a "HH","HN", or even a "HHN" brace configuration which allows the forces be transfered into the ground.
After setting the corner post and bracing the same should be set for gates or entrances. In addition on long runs every 300 to 400 feet a "H" brace would be advised. With proper bracing its now OK to run your barb wire. Typical configurations are either 4 strands or 5 strands. To keep the tension from lifting post out of the ground in dips or driving them in on top of hills various plates and anchors and be used. Proper design and installation can save you time and money on repairs later. In addition a down fence or gaps in a fence line can mean loss of cattle of cause animals to be harmed by saggy barb wire fence sections.
On a four wire fence going from bottom to top here is a good guide for spacing wire. Place bottom strand at 16", the second at 25", the third at 34 inches, and the top strand at 45 inches. You should make sure these heights match up well with the post and t-post you plan on using. If you need to adjust these measurements to fit your project.
On a five wire fence going from bottom to top here is a good guide for wire spacing. Place the bottom strand at 15", the second at 22", the third at 29", the fourth at 36 inches, and the top strand at 47 inches. Again make modification on you specific project as needed.