Fence Laws

Introduction to Selected Colorado Fence Laws
The success of a livestock operation is dependent upon the satisfactory control of animals through the use of fences and gates, making it necessary for landowners to consistently construct or maintain fences. The laws that regulate the construction, maintenance, or removal of fences in Colorado are documented in the Colorado Revised Statutes. This article is an effort to introduce some of those statutes in a way to help clarify them to landowners.

The article is a summation of selected Colorado Statutes pertaining to Agriculture fences. Before relying on the material in this article, you should read and understand the entire statutes. The following explanation of terms and selected statutes are explained in an effort to simplify perceptions and possible misunderstandings among landowners.

Lawful fence is defined as a well constructed three strand barbed wire fence with substantial posts set at a distance of approximately twenty feet apart, and sufficient to turn ordinary horses and cattle, with all gates equally as good as the fence, or any other fence of like efficiency.

Livestock defined includes horses, cattle, mules, donkey, goats, sheep, swine, buffalo, and cattalo.

Construction of Participation Fences
Statute No. 35-46-112
Where the agricultural land of two or more persons adjoin, it is the duty of each owner to build or maintain in repair one-half of the line fence, such fence to be a lawful fence, except as otherwise agreed by owners.

Who Is Responsible for Cost & Repair
Statute No. 35-46-113
If after thirty days written notice (certified letter), served personally or by registered mail by either owner or tenant of another, if such owner neglects or refuses to erect or repair one-half of the partition fence, the person giving notice then may undertake repairs and may collect by a civil action one-half of the cost. Refers only to a Lawful fence.

There is a very specific order and procedure involved to be in compliance with this statute. Do not begin any construction before those procedures are complied with or you may have problems in collection of expenses.

Owner of Property May Recover for Trespass
Statute No. 35-46-102
Any person who has a Lawful Fence in good repair, may recover damages for trespass and crop injury resulting from livestock which break through such fence.

But under this section, the owner of livestock released upon lands where he has a right to do so, will not be held responsible for the wanderings of livestock onto property that is not properly fenced. The policy of law is to favor livestock owner and permit them to range their livestock at large: the duty of protection crops is placed upon the farmer.

A willful trespasser who knowingly herds or drives his stock upon another's premises, cannot invoke this section in defense of an action of trespass. Nor can the fact that cattle strayed into the neighbor's field night after night be used when cattle owners deliberately take possession of lands.

In review of the statutes associated with fence laws, it would seem that it is easier to work with neighbors in a joint effort to control the movement of livestock. If your neighbors do not desire to cooperate, it is strongly recommended that you obtain a complete and updated version of the statutes and understand those statutes or contact an attorney prior to the construction or repair of any fence.

A Good Neighbor Is Worth Keeping
This article was prepared in an effort to introduce and help clarify the perception landowners in Rio Blanco County have concerning some of the agricultural related Colorado Fence Laws. The information contained in the article was taken form the 1987 Colorado Revised Statutes. A detailed copy may be obtained through the Rio Blanco Courthouse or the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Office in Rio Blanco County.