An electric fence will help keep your farm animals safe.
Your farm is your life. Whether you need your farm to make a living, or it’s just a hobby, you want to protect the investments you’ve made. One way to start is by making sure your livestock and other farm animals are safe. An electric fence will keep your animals in and potential predators out, giving you peace of mind. Once animals learn they’ll be shocked by the fence, they tend to stay away from it. Always work with your veterinarian to ensure your animals will be safely protected by the electric fence.
Start by choosing the right fence charger. See the chart to the right to figure out which charger is right for your animals. Different chargers can cover different amounts of miles or acres. Joules are a measurement of energy. It measures the shock the animal will feel from the energy output.
You will see chargers with low impedance. Low impedance allows the charger to still deliver a shock to the animal, even if weeds or vegetation are in contact with the electric fence.
Alternating current (AC) chargers, also known as plug-in chargers, are used when you can connect to a 110 volt or 220 volt outlet. They are the most consistent and cost-effective because they’re constantly hooked up to a power source. They can also produce the most power.
If you don’t have a power outlet, you will want to consider the other two kinds of chargers. If you want to keep bears out, you’ll need a high power (10 to 16 joules) electric fence charger.
Battery powered chargers use 12-volt, 6-volt, 4-volt or D-cell batteries. The bigger batteries make more volts and last longer. Battery powered fence chargers offer less power, but are great for remote areas where you don’t have access to an outlet.
If you use a battery powered charger, keep a backup battery just in case. You will have to change the batteries and keep an eye on power levels. You may want to invest in a volt meter. They are handy for checking batteries.
A solar powered fence charger gives the least amount of power. However, it’s also the most convenient choice and tends to last the longest. You’ll need to keep the charger in a place that gets four to six hours of sunlight a day. Only use a solar powered unit for a small area.
Insulators keep your fence from shorting out between the wire and posts. Always use a high quality insulator that is the right design for the fencing material being electrified. Most insulators are made from plastic or porcelain, which don’t conduct electricity. While porcelain insulators may cost more, they are also made to last longer than the plastic ones. Corner posts and end posts have to withstand greater tension than other posts along the fence line. Use insulators that are designed for these corner posts.
Most permanent electric fences use high-tensile smooth wire. If you’re keeping in horses, you will probably still want to use a heavy duty polytape/rope. We don’t recommend using electrified barbed wire. Your animals can become caught in the barbed wire, causing injury.
If you are building a temporary electric fence, use a small gauge steel wire or polywire/tape. Metal rods or plastic posts should be spaced 20′ to 30′ apart. Temporary electric fences are easy to install, take down and move if necessary. Be sure you make it well known and visible where the electric fence starts and ends.
For a permanent fence, you will want to install a few gates and insulated gate handles. These will keep anyone that enters from getting shocked.
For temporary fences, a step-in poly electric fence post is ideal. They are self-insulating and easy to put up and take down. Self-insulated fiberglass fence posts are designed for both temporary and permanent fences. Wood or steel fence posts take a bit more work to install, and require insulators. However, these fence posts will last for years once you install them. Posts should be spaced according to the terrain and size of the area that you’re fencing in.
If a fence isn’t grounded right, it will fail. An effective ground system uses one 6′ to 8′ ground rod for every joule of energy the charger puts out. Ground rod clamps and galvanized wire connect the ground rods to each other and to the fence charger. Without a good grounding system,animals won’t get shocked when they touch the fence. They’re likely to escape without much trouble.