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A fence line is used to define one property or area from another. It may not have an actual fence erected on the site. When plotting out land for development in the early years, developers often referred to a property as running from a certain fence line to another. When an actual fence or barrier is erected to separate two pieces of land, it is often called a fence line.
In the United States, in some areas of the country, mostly in the west, cowboys and ranchers patrol properties by horse, spending a great deal of time each year riding the fence lines of his or her ranch to ensure no cattle are lost through a broken fence. Some farmers will use a fence line to mark the boundaries of the fields. These fence lines have been taken down in recent years to allow farmers to plant larger areas at one time, rather than several separate plots. The fence line would typically mark out 40-acre sections and aid the farmer in determining how much ground needed to be planted to reach a specific crop harvest.
The fence lines surrounding farmers' fields often support a great deal of wildlife habitat. Animals such as pheasant, rabbit and even deer consider fence lines to be home. The decline of the ring-neck pheasant in the United States has been attributed, in part, to the removal of fences from fields. A push to restore the fence is under way in many areas of the U.S. Midwest.
Many fence lines incorporate a gateway into the fence. This allows machinery and animals to pass from one area to another freely. The gates also make it possible to keep cows separated from bulls until a rancher wishes them to breed. When the time is right, the gate can be opened, allowing the bulls to intermingle with the cows. The bulls can then be removed to a separate area once the rancher is satisfied with mating results. When the calves are born, they can be separated from the herd in the same manner, by opening a gate.
In some areas of the world, a fence line is used to determine military positions. Areas such as the 38th parallel in Korea divides and separates the country into communist and non-communist areas. Crossing this fence line could be considered an act of aggression and even an act of war. The former Berlin Wall in Germany was once considered to be a fence line between communist and non-communist Germany.