The benefits of electric fencing for livestock far, far, outweigh the jolt an animal (or careless, or acting on a dare, human) receives on contact with a wire. Electric fences can be used in in place of, or in addition to, regular fencing – like barbed wire or page wire – to keep predators out, and livestock and/or dogs, in.
Not only are there safety considerations, but convenience ones as well. Electric fencing supplies can be super portable, allowing a farmer to move their herd to areas that they don’t want to put in a permanent fence, on their own property, or on another’s, perhaps for rented weed control grazing. They can keep animals from rubbing up against fencing (when they’re just scratching itches, not trying to escape), saving the need for constant restretching and mending sections.
The main downsides come from the cost – energizers, mostly, though when you add up wire, insulators, posts and and all the miscellaneous bits you need, it can add up. The other downside can be if you end up with a stubborn animal who will deal with getting shocked to get through the fence, usually so s/he can graze three inches away from it on the other side. Like humans, animals can be maddening!
Our main desire for electric fencing was to be able to move the goats around the property for additional foraging for them, and weeding control for us. We waited until they were settled in and healthy (and got all the supplies purchased) and started off setting up an area just off the back gate of their pen. Thankfully, our initial 8 ladies came pre trained to electric fencing and don’t even try to test it.
Eventually, we will fence off areas away from the goat pens and lead them back and forth. They already follow well when I have a bucket of grain, but I also have a dog that has no idea how to herd, trying to herd them all the time, so we have some work to do before I get to ambitious.
The dogs, poor things I do feel bad, learned right away that those wires are not to touch. The older rottie, Artemis, decided the risk was worth it, and jumped in and went on a merry chase, trying to herd them…. wherever she thought they should be. She knows “OUT” pretty well and after getting shocked again while leaving, she’s stayed the hell away from those nasty wires. Our younger rottie-cross Calli got one zap and doesn’t care enough to bother giving the wire a sulky glance now and then. We did raise them up a notch, though, just in case.
To get started, we employed KISS: keep it simple, stupid. Wire, plastic posts with integrated hooks for the wire, a solar powered energizer, and a ground stake. We have the best luck with availability at UFA, but found the posts were cheaper at Keddies. It’s worth shopping around. There might be even better options, especially if we went down south, but there’s some projects that I just don’t have the mental power to figure out what all we need AND find the best price, compare with fuel costs, and decide if we have the time to save 13 cents, ha!
Anyway, we connected the ends of the wire to the wooden posts at the pens, stuck posts in the ground about every 10-12 feet to start, ran 2 strands of wire, poked the grounding post in, and hooked up the energizer. Instant zap, though we found the further we went from the energizer, the lower the zap was. We decided it was touching too much grass and kept a close eye on the goats but they never tested it.
At night, we turned off the energizer and put the ladies in the main pen to keep them safer. We haven’t had any of the local coyote packs harass us yet, but I know the day will come and I don’t want to give another reason for them to try.
The next morning as we went to let them out, we heard a click-click-click, which got traced to the end of a wire touching the page wire of the main fence. I secured it and ZAP! Yep, that was the problem! Lesson learning to check every inch for possible accidental grounds! And maybe get a tester more sophisticated than my finger, haha.
Do you have any tips, tricks, or thoughts about using electric fencing? Post a comment below, or shoot us an email!