From small creeks, streams, and rivers to ponds and lakes, waterways are a common element in ranches. But for game fencing and other wildlife barriers, “water gaps” are one of the most important elements for the protection of the animals on the property. Sadly, this critical aspect of wildlife fence installation is also subject to often shoddy planning and construction, allowing expensive animal stock to escape or predatory animals to enter your property.
Water gaps come in all shapes and sizes, from small three-foot-wide ditches to river bottoms that may be a half-mile wide.
Water gap failures are typically caused by the build-up of debris, such as floating trees and logs that clog the flow of water, essentially creating a dam that then takes the full effect of the ongoing water force.
Smaller water gaps that will not face extensive water force, such as those used in a small ditch, can effectively be created by a hog or cattle panel cut to fit the landscape contours and secured with “T-posts” or pipe.
Larger water gaps are frequently constructed with a “hinge” or “swinging” steel frame, often sheet metal or steel roof panels attached to a stationary frame. However, when heavy rains cause silting on the creek or riverbed, the structure may not fully close after water levels drop, leaving an opening for deer and other wildlife to escape the fence (or, just as problematic, is the opening for predators to enter the property). Washed in debris can also easily cause the same effect, with large tree limbs or logs keeping the hinged structure from completely closing.
Tejas Ranch & Game Fence has innovated a water gap for deer fencing constructed with rubber belting attached to a cable stretched tight across the creek or river. Our exclusive Floatmaster water gap allows debris to pass through during heavy water flow, mitigating the clogging (and rust) that challenges water gaps constructed with steel. Should a tree or log remain in the water gap, the belting will “drape” over the potential obstruction, maintaining its integrity as an animal barrier.
It is very important with any water gap to build the load-bearing structure above the water level whenever possible. Where possible, it’s best to overcompensate on the water gap.
In many cases with wildlife, such as Whitetail Deer, one animal finding an opening off the property will cost more than the investment in a reliable water gap.
To speak with an expert ranch fence contractor, contact us at (903) 292-0525 with any questions about a new or retrofitted water gap for your property.