Learn how to install an electric fence system with Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
An electric fence keeps predators out and keeps your farm animals in. Installing your own electric fence system takes some work, but the peace of mind knowing that your animals are safe is all worth it. Before you begin installing your electric fence system, read through our article, “Electric Fence Introduction,” to get acquainted with the different parts of the fencing system.
Installing an Electric Fence System:
1. Install the ground system – Start by installing your ground system. This system, if not installed properly can be the main cause of your fencing systems failure. An effective ground system uses one 6′ to 8′ ground rod for every joule output of energy. 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, and are likely to escape without much trouble.
2. Install the fencer – Continue by installing the fencer. You will want to place the fencer under shelter, several feet above the ground. Your fencer instruction manual will list any specific installation instructions for the model you chose. If you chose a solar powered fencer, make sure they are placed in an open area facing to the south. Use insulated cable to connect the charger to the fence.
3. Test the ground system – You’re now ready to test the ground system. Create a dead short on the fence line, 300 ft. or as far as possible, away from the ground rods. Lean steel posts on a ‘hot’ or active wire to short out the fence. Place a voltmeter probe on the ground wire or rods. Extend the lead wire of the meter as far away as possible. Attach this to a wire probe and inset into the soil.
4. Read the voltage – The next step in testing the ground system is to read the voltage. If it exceeds 300V, the grounding system is inadequate and more ground rods need to be added until the voltage reads 300 or less.
5. Install the fence posts and insulators – Installing the fence posts and wires will be the most difficult and time consuming part of installing your fence. To figure out how many fence posts you need, divide the perimeter of the fence in feet, by the amount of space in feet you want spaced between the posts. Normal post spacing is between 12′ and 15′, depending on what you are trying to enclose. Your gate will also need insulated gate handles. The insulated gate handle will protect you from getting shocked when you enter the gate.
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.
6. Install the electric wire – Stringing the type of wires you chose onto the fence posts is the next step. The height and spacing of the wires will vary based on the type and size of the animal you are containing. It’s recommend that one electrified wire is positioned at animals’ shoulder height. Doing this ensures the animal will hit the fence with its nose, which is an effective way of helping the animal learn not to approach the fence. Another wire should be positioned to hit grazing animals on the back of the neck when they get to near the fence.
7. Test the voltage again – Before you connect the fence charger to the fence and ground system, turn it on and check the voltage – it should read 5,000V or more. Connect the fence and ground system to the charger and test voltage again. If the voltage drops more than 2,000V, you may have an issue with the fence or the charge is not powerful enough.
Walk to the furthest spot on your fence line from the fence charger. Touch the volt tester probe to an electrified wire and touch the other lead to the ground. The voltage needs to be between 2,000V and 3,000V to contain most animals. See the chart to the right to see how much voltage is recommended for your fence line depending on the animal.
8. Introduce your animals – Finally, introduce your animals to the fence. Electric fencers work because animals are afraid to touch it once they know what it will do. Introduce the animal to the fence during daylight hours so they can see what it is. Some animals take up to three days to train before they are psychologically aware of what touching an electrified fence does to them.
An electric fence system needs to be regularly checked and tested to ensure it is working properly. It’s recommended to test the voltage daily. You will also want to regularly walk the fence looking for any broken pieces or other potential problems. Repair any problems you see as soon as possible to prevent any animals from escaping when you’re not around. Also be sure you never turn off an electric fence when animals are still behind it.