What are the government’s guidelines on rural fencing?

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Do you need to install rural fencing in Nottingham, Leicester, or Birmingham and find yourself asking,” What are the government’s guidelines on rural fencing?”,  Then read on. Here at RTC Fencing, we have been supplying and installing quality agricultural fencing for over 20 years. We have expert knowledge of the laws surrounding rural fencing, with our team able to offer you advice and guidance to ensure you’re adhering to the latest government legislation.

What is rural fencing? Rural Fencing in Leicester


Rural fencing has been used for hundreds of years to keep animals such as horses, sheep, and cattle in or out of certain areas. Fencing in your livestock is very important for their health and wellbeing. Not only does it make it easier to herd them since you’ll know where they are at all times, but it also makes everyday chores like feeding and milking simpler to handle. If you don’t fence off the areas where your livestock is roaming, you risk losing them or them becoming injured. 

Secure fencing also keeps your animals safe from any potential predators such as foxes. As well as providing protection for your animals, rural fencing can also protect your crops from outside wildlife. Intruders will be less able to enter your farmstead too.

Rural fencing is an important investment, so it’s important to source it from a leading fencing supplier like RTC Fencing. We can ensure strong barriers are in place on your farm, protecting your livestock and crops. At the same time, our fencing will clearly mark your land boundaries whilst enhancing the perimeter of your farmstead. There are many types of rural fencing available to suit all needs and budgets. We can construct them from a wide range of materials, catering to the location, terrain, and livestock.

What does the law say about rural fencing?

Some people are surprised that there are laws surrounding rural fencing in Birmingham, Leicester, and Nottingham. However, when you consider the potential dangers posed by loose livestock, it’s not hard to see why they’re in place. Indeed, incidents involving livestock and walkers on public footpaths are never far from the national headlines. Two to three walkers lose their lives every year after attacks by livestock. Many more sustain serious injuries. 

The government’s guidelines on rural fencing and Health and Safety Executives say that cattle-related incidents are one of the leading causes of deaths and injuries on farms in the UK. As such, it’s the responsibility of farmers to keep members of the general public away from livestock. You need to prevent ramblers and dog walkers from coming into contact with farm animals. The law states that you must undertake a risk assessment to ensure that people who don’t work on your farm aren’t placed in danger.

Cattle in fields

You’re legally obliged to ensure that people aren’t exposed to unnecessary risks caused by cattle on land which can be accessed by the public. Whilst farms are allowed to keep cattle in fields with public access, the law states that bulls must not be kept in fields crossed by rights of way. The only exception to this is if they are younger than 10 months old or not an accepted dairy breed. Any beef bulls in such fields need to be accompanied by either cows or heifers. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 classifies dairy breeds as Ayrshire, Guernsey, British Friesian, British Holstein, Jersey, Kerry, or Dairy Shorthorn.

Since the majority of deaths surrounding cattle have involved cows with calves at foot, these animals should always be kept in fields away from access by the public. Fencing is an important consideration in these cases, particularly if land is limited. Secure and robust rural fencing is required to prevent the public from coming to contact with these cattle. 

Assessing the behaviour of cattle 

As well as erecting suitable fencing to contain your cattle, you should also be continually assessing their behaviour. If they’re kept in fields that have public access, you need to be wary of their temperaments. You should be prepared to remove any animals from the group should they show any signs of aggression. Whilst many cows are gentle, others can become nervous or excitable when under stress. Cows may become particularly aggressive if they have young calves or illness. 

Guidelines on fencing placement

Rural Fencing Contractors in Nottingham

If you decide to fence off a route, you’ll need to decide where to place the fence. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds, particularly as the position of the public right of way may be unknown.

In some cases, you may need to gain access to the Definitive Map and Statement, which is the legal record of the public’s rights of way. You can arrange to see the Definitive Map, although you’ll need to contact your local surveying authority to arrange this. These documents are always available for public inspection.

Barbed wire fences

Many farmers decide to install barbed wire fences on their premises. This type of fencing can offer excellent security for your farmstead. However, we recommend setting them slightly back from the public highway. The reason for this is that it must not cause a nuisance to humans or animals and you may be held responsible for any damage caused. In some cases, the Highway Authority can make you remove it. 

What happens if I don’t comply with legislation?

The penalties for people who don’t comply with rural fencing legislation can be serious. Not only are you likely to face a large fine, but you also risk a custodial sentence in some cases. To avoid feeling the full force of the law, you’ll need to ensure that you have erected the required rural fencing on your farmstead. At RTC, we’re more than happy to advise you on your options, with our team on hand to provide the expert help and guidance that you require. 

Contact us 

We hope that this has answered all your questions on the government’s guidelines on rural fencing. RTC Fencing offers a wide range of rural fencing in Leicester, Nottingham, and Birmingham. We supply stock and estate fencing, post and rail fencing, and many other types of high-quality agricultural fencing. To find out more about our products, call our team on 0800 086 2517. You can also send us a message via our website



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