Electric (and other) Fencing

21 Mistakes to Avoid With Electric Fencing

by Wayne Burleson of Pasture Management
(Click the above title for the original post.)

With 30 years of experience, building hundreds of miles of smooth-wire electric fence, I’ve just about seen every kind of electric fencing mistake made. … High-tensile, smooth wire, electric fencing is the fastest and most affordable fence that I know about, and its technology has drastically improved over the past 15 years. Still many folks are hesitant to use it because they remember old failures …

Here are 21 common mistakes that you should avoid:

1) Poor Earth grounding

… Install several ground rods – at least three that are 6 to 8 feet long, galvanized, and attached with good ground clamps. …

2) Using different types of metals

… electrolysis happens and the metal becomes corroded, making a poor contact …

3) Inadequate animal training

… Flag the fence for visibility… most educated animals will not touch a wire with 5,000 volts running through it.

Once this technology is learned and the animals are well trained, you can start to simplify your interior cross fences down to two wires.

4) Fence posts too close together. (Note this is for interior cross fences not boundary fences)

… You want the fence to act like a rubber band. When something runs into the wire, you don’t want to break all the insulators or knock posts out of the ground. If the posts are spread far enough apart — say 80 to 100 feet — the wire will just bend to the ground and pop back up.  …

5) Too many wire tie-offs

… Fencing specifications may call for braces every quarter mile (1,320′ ) to tie the wire off, but I have found that even 5,280 feet is OK, and actually adds more elasticity in the fence wire. This reduces the chance of wires breaking.

6) Wires tied tight to each fencepost

The wires must float (move) past each line fence post (I think he means laterally) … to maintain the elasticity effect. …

7) Building new fences near old existing fences

Old fence wires seem to always be moving somewhere and coming in contact with the new electrified wires. This will cause a complete short in the fence. …

8) Bottom wire in contact with heavy, wet vegetation

Wet grass will suck lots of juice out of any fence charger. Hook up the lower wires separate from the other wires, and install a switch for the lower wires that you can turn off when the grass is tall. Brush is another problem – buy a BIG charger. …

9) Poor-quality insulators

Be careful, sunlight deteriorates plastic. Buy high-quality, long-lasting insulators. Usually black ones are treated to resist degradation by ultraviolet light. …

10) Staples driven in all the way

When using plastic tubing as an insulator, don’t staple it too tight …

11) Solar panels not directly facing the sun

This seems almost too obvious …

12) Don’t electrify barbed wire

An animal can get caught-up in the barbs …

13) Kinks in high-tensile wire

A small kink in stiff wire will always break. Also avoid hitting this kind of wire with a hammer, as this will easily damage the wire, causing a break. Always cut out a damaged section of high tensile wire and splice it. Incidentally, I have found that a hand-tied “square knot” makes the strongest splice. …

14) Installing in-line strainers close together

Wires will flip together once in awhile. If in-line strainers (winch? like gadgets to keep the wire tight) are installed one above the other, they will sometimes hook up …

15) Wires too close to each other

Keep them at least 5 to 7 inches apart. … Make fencing height marks in ink (or tape) on your pants for the height of the wires …

16) Wire stretched too tight

Use inline-strainers that pull just enough to get the sag out of the wire between the fence posts.

17) No voltmeter

Without a voltage meter to check how hot a fence is, you’re just guessing …

18) Wire too small

The larger the wire, the more electricity it will carry. Don’t skimp here, especially if your wire is going long distances. 12.5 gage wire is good for more than 20 miles of hot fence.

19) Inadequate charger

… Don’t skimp here because this is where most fences fail. … Your fence charger should be low-impedance, come from a dependable supplier, and have a warranty and replaceable components. Buy one that puts out lots of power.

20) Can’t fence in the wintertime?

This is a paradigm that most folks have. Mine too, until I watched Canadians …

21) Too busy to check the fence

… Without routine checking, they tend to slip and lose their effectiveness. … Solution: Carry a small repair kit with you at all time. Install switches away from the charger, turn the fence off and make the necessary repairs as a routine as often as moving the mineral mix.



Installing/Troubleshooting Electric Fence (1)

Installing/Troubleshooting Electric Fence (2)

Installing Electric Fence (lots of pictures)


(My notes follow:)

It was suggested to me to use 12″ offsets to prevent the cow(s) from leaning into the barbed wire fence while reaching for grass on the other side. It was so hard to find I grew concerned that it would not hold up, so decided to use 10″. My fears were overblown. The wire is allowed to slide through the offsets, so there is little sideways torque on them, and they nail in place quite securely.

Kencove Electric Fence

Lightning Protection

12″ Offset Bracket (attaches to my barbed wire) – $40/25

Cattle Panels (not electric) 52″ x 16′, are $29 each and attach to your own posts. These have been described (elsewhere) as the best choice for those pesky goats.

Premiere 1

10″ t-post standoffs (9″ actual standoff, 1/4″ rope or 1/2″ tape) $1.0410″ wood post standoffs … $0.98

No 10″ reverse t-post standoffs!

Intellirope PE 4.5 is a little cheaper than wire with the same life-expectancy and much stronger. It has higher resistance, though.

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