I’ve worked in the fencing industry on and off for several years and many people do not know what the laws are concerning agricultural fences. Every state has a university extension that will usually give you the guidelines and laws. In Missouri there is the general fence law and the local fence option law. There are many counties that have opted out for the general fence law.
Here are some of the main questions that the extension website will answer. Who is legally responsible for building and maintaining a boundary fence? How is “livestock owner” defined in the updated general fence law? What if my neighbor puts livestock against the boundary fence after I have built it? What portion of the fence am I required to maintain? Aren’t I responsible for only the part of the fence where the wire is on my side of the posts?
What is a legal fence in the state of Missouri?
General fence law
“A fence consisting of posts and wire or boards at least 4 feet high which is mutually agreed upon by adjoining landowners or decided upon by the associate circuit court of the county is a lawful fence. All posts shall be set firmly in the ground not more than 12 feet apart with wire or boards securely fastened to such posts and placed at proper distances apart to resist horses, cattle and other similar livestock” (RSMo 272.020).
Local option fence law
A lawful fence is “a fence with not less than four boards per 4 feet of height; said boards to be spaced no farther apart than twice the width of the boards used fastened in or to substantial posts not more than 12 feet apart with one stay, or a fence of four barbed wires supported by posts not more than 15 feet apart with one stay or 12 feet apart with no stays, or any fence which is at least equivalent to the types of fences described herein” [RSMo 272.210(1)]. “Stays” are vertical supports that are attached to each horizontal wire of a fence.
If you happen to be unsure about some of the legal aspects of a fence or the boundaries, research the laws before putting up a fence. It will save you lots of money, time, and a royal headache.