High Tensile Electric Fence
An electric fence works by "educating" your animals so that they learn to associate touching the fence with receiving an unpleasant shock. This is the same principle as barbed wire, but it presents a much more powerful deterrent with very little danger of physical damage to your stock.
We've found electric fences to be an excellent solution for some applications and owners, especially when on a tight budget, or temporary location. There are horror stories with any type of fencing, but New Zealand electric has more than it's fair share due primarily to degloving injuries (lower leg and tendons) on horses. Some dangers exist for other stock as well, more for getting caught and unable to escape from the fence (sheep and goats). Our experience over the years has taught us that it can be used safely if you consider the following:
1 ) Use only in pasture situations with natural vegetative boundaries to provide a strong visual
2 ) KEEP the fence energized at ALL times. The animals must always have a consistent experience when contacting the fence.
3 ) Don't use to separate animals.
Electric fences are being used successfully to control many kinds of animals, both domestic and feral.
We use primarily Gallagher fencing products and energizers. The energizers, are modular, so after that unfortuante lightning strike, we can replace the sensitive electronics board and be as good as new vice the whole unit. Products are well designed with one of the largest agricultural engineering staffs ever assembled just for fencing.
Warwick started his fencing career, installing this type of fencing on his home farm in Taihape, New Zealand along high ridges for sheep, cattle and deer. I still remember watching two bulls fighting across a New Zealand electric fence on a very high ridge in the paddock known as "the Waterfall". Huge Angus fellows, frustrated by a warm spell, being very careful not to touch the hot wires as they bellowed and pawed, each remaining on their proper side.
How Electric Fencing Works
An electric fence is a psychological barrier that keeps farm animals in and wild animals out - even over long distances.
A pulsed electric current is sent along the fence wire, about one pulse per second, from an energizer which is grounded. When the animal touches the fence it completes the circuit between the fence and the ground and receives a short, sharp but safe shock. The shock is sufficiently memorable that the animal never forgets.
Because the electric fence is a psychological barrier, it does not require great strength to be effective. However, it must be well designed and constructed to absorb some pressure from animals, snow and wind. The energizer must have enough power for the length of the fence and for the animals being controlled.
Advantages of Electric Fences
- Affordable: Electric fence is 50% less expensive to build and maintain than barbed wire, according to the 2005 study by Iowa State University on estimated costs for livestock fencing.
- Durable – due to low physical contact
- Easily modified or expanded
- Keeps animals in and predators out
What Does It Look Like?
We like to use big, monster corner posts for the corners and ends. H-braces are key as this wire is under tension. The fence consists of three to fifteen, high tensile galvanized steel wires. Line posts are placed 30 - 50 feet apart to reduce costs and allow for flexibility. The New Zealand cockies (farmers) will drive their four wheelers across the fence vice opening and closing gates. Battens or posts that sit above the ground, keep the wires properly spaced across the distance between line posts. Wires can be all hot, alternate hot and not (allows for a shock between wires) or none hot.