If you take a drive through the modern-day New England countryside, you will still find stone walls lining the edges of historic farm properties. These charming walls were very labor-intensive to build, as stones were removed from farm fields out of necessity; this created an opportunity to repurpose those stones for the containment of livestock and to mark property boundaries. Wood, which was also plentiful, was incorporated into building corrals, gates, barns, and fences. These common methods of improving farms worked well in areas with abundant natural resources.

As people moved west and settled in new areas, they needed a new way to contain livestock and define property boundaries, leading to the first barbed wire patent, issued in 1867. Lucien Smith of Ohio is credited for the design of steel wire fencing with pointed barbs. The design, made of multiple wire strands, was intended to deter animals from pushing through fences. Over time, more options for wire fencing emerged. Smooth wire fencing is a design without barbs and is preferred by many horse owners. Mesh or woven-style wire fencing is excellent for containing all sizes of animals. They work well in small confinement areas to keep the animals from crawling through. Barbed wire made fencing larger areas more practical and efficient than using the resources of the past. By the 1870s, barbed wire was being promoted in Texas, a place where farmers wanted to see better containment and control of animals to keep them off their farmlands, and ranchers were hesitant to give up the open range they had been utilizing. The era of open ranges and free grazing came to an end in the 1890s.

Advancements in fencing continued with the invention of electric wire fencing in the 1930s. Electric fencing is commonly used for temporary fences around farm fields, CRP midterm management, or even small plots of land that someone would like to graze to utilize the forage that has grown but doesn't intend to graze continuously. Using an electric fence is common practice for intensive grazing plans as well. They are easy to move, can be shaped uniquely without the heavy-duty braces needed in multiple-strand wire fencing, and are efficient to set up. Another popular use is to line the inside of other types of fences with a single electric wire to further deter animals from pushing on or crowding the fence. An electric fence can be very effective if everything is working properly and the animals respect the fencing. Dry conditions and even overly wet conditions can cause grounding issues that prevent the fence from working efficiently. Also, some animals never learn to respond in a desirable manner. Breaking your animals into an electric fence can take a little time for them to understand the electrified wire and respond correctly. I have owned cows that would take the shock and push under the wire quickly without caring. Some animals aren't meant to be contained by a strand or two of lightweight wire and small posts. For smaller areas of confinement, or areas a property owner might prefer to be more visually appealing, pipe fencing became very popular, and the more modern-day option of vinyl and PVC fencing can be found across the country enhancing entrances, driveways, yards, and the corrals around barns. Pipe and premade steel fencing panels are very efficient for corrals and high-pressure working areas.