Landowner Rights and Trespassing Livestock

Landowner Rights and Trespassing Livestock

April 10, 2020

While the Texas Supreme Court has ruled as recently as 1999 that the Lone Star State is open range country, landowners still have a number of questions about what happens when livestock trespass on their land. Additionally, with the development of vast state and federal highways across our fair state, more and more landowners are investing in fence installation in Guadalupe County, TX with the expert help of local surveyors.

Open range vs. closed range

Dating back to a Texas Supreme Court decision in the 19th century, the state has long been open range. However, numerous factors have led counties across the state to pass closed range regulations. This is why we’re seeing an increase in fence installation in Guadalupe County, TX.

Despite the fact that the law has been on the books since the 1800s, many landowners are still unsure about whether or not they are responsible for fencing in their livestock and what it means if they do not take the necessary precautions.

In an open range county, it is the responsibility of the landowner to build and maintain adequate fencing to keep out wandering livestock. Those landowners with livestock in closed range counties bear the onus of fencing in their cattle and other animals to prevent them from trespassing on neighboring properties.

The challenge in Texas is figuring out whether or not you live in an open range or a closed range county. Unfortunately, a current compendium that lists the status of each county is unavailable. If you are unsure about your local laws, it is recommended that you contact your county sheriff’s office for details and clarification. You can also follow up with the county clerk if the sheriff cannot provide adequate answers.

Your rights as a landowner

Your rights will vary depending on the county where your property is located due to the different open range and closed range jurisdictions. For landowners in open range counties, you have the right to recover crop or property damages from livestock owners if you have constructed and maintained adequate fencing around your property. If you fail to fence in your property, though, you have no options for recourse against an animal owner whose livestock damages any of your structures or snacks on your crops.

For those in closed range counties, it is the responsibility of livestock owners to fence in their animals. This means keeping all of your cattle, domestic turkeys, donkeys, goats, hogs, horses, jacks, jennets, mules or sheep confined to your property. If you fail to fence in your livestock and they damage your neighbor’s property or make a meal of their crops, that landowner can collect damages from you. However, if your wily livestock got through the adequate fence you’ve built and maintained, you may not be liable for any damage or crop loss.

If you are considering fence installation in Guadalupe County, TX, whether it’s to protect your land from trespassing livestock or to prohibit your animals from wandering off, you’ll want to contact a local surveyor like Bettersworth & Associates, Inc. With a clear boundary survey, you can accurately fence off your land to protect the investments you’ve made in the property, your crops and any livestock you own. Call us today!

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Bettersworth & Associates, Inc.
111 E Mountain St
Seguin, TX 78155

Phone: (830) 379-5552

July 6, 2017 Henry K.
"Couldn't ask for better people to work with!! I'd give them 10 stars if I could. Everyone from Ken, the girls in the office, and all the guy..."
February 20, 2017 Mike N.
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August 31, 2016 Scott
"Very professional survey crew. Answered all my questions."

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