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Practical Advice

Electric Fencing FAQs

How do I start building my electric fence?
For best results, we recommend that you buy an energisers recommended by one of our suppliers - Rutland or Hotline, for your application (see Rutland energiser selection chart below). Ensure you install a good earth system and test its effectiveness as explained; use high-quality wires with good conductive characteristics and high specification insulators (Note, energisers with high joules will require better insulation than low output ones so always select appropriate products). Service the fence regularly by checking the voltages on the fence and earth and clearing vegetation growth.

Rutland energiser selection chart

How do I choose the most suitable electric fence energiser?
The energiser you choose depends on many variables, including the type of animal being controlled, the length of the fence, its location, and even the climate (wet climates can drain energy from the fence and dry climates can cause earthing problems). In general, choose a higher powered energiser than you think you need to handle unexpected challenges such as vegetation and to allow for possible future expansion of your fence.

What is the most common installation error with electric fencing?
Ineffective earth systems account for 95 percent of all electric-fencing problems. When using portable fences, use the correct earth stake as recommended. In dry, rocky or sandy soil conditions more than one may be necessary. When using mains energisers in a fixed position, use at least one x two metre long galvanized earth stake. Make sure to use bolts to attach the earth wire and tighten firmly. The drier the soil, the more extensive the earth system needs to be. Always check the earth immediately following installation and at periodic intervals, particularly in summer. If excessive voltage readings are found, add more earth stakes at 2 metre spacing until the voltage is within tolerance levels.

My climate and soil make it difficult for me to install a good earthing system. What alternatives do I have?
In sandy or rocky soils, in extremely arid climates, or where the ground is frozen for much of the year, the standard earth system may not prove adequate. In these situations it may be necessary to wire the fence with alternative wires being live / earth. Such a fence will then no longer be dependant on moist soil conditions. When an animal touches the live and earth wires simultaneously, the current will travel back to the energiser’s earth system, completing the circuit and delivering a shock.

What are the advantages of electric fence over conventional barrier fence?
Electric fencing costs less, is easier to install, requires less maintenance and can control livestock better than barbed wire or many other types of fencing. In addition, livestock are frequently injured by barbed wire and will damage woven-wire fences by leaning on the fence.
Because livestock avoid contact with an electric fence, it will last longer than other types of fence. Barbed wire or woven-wire fences may only last 7 - 12 years, while permanent, high tensile, electric fences can last 20 years.

If I use barbed wire, can I electrify it?
Barbed wire is designed as a physical barrier, using barbs to deter animals. Because of the barbs, there is a greater chance the animal can become entangled in the wire. Electrified barbed wire could cause even more damage to the animal therefore barbed wire should never be electrified. For a selection of safer poly wire and tape, refer to Rutland’s tape / wire / rope tabs.

How do I use electric fence to contain bulls?
If normally kept segregated for breeding purposes, bulls or other aggressive livestock may become highly motivated to escape confinement, especially when nearby cows are in heat. To contain bulls, maintain 4,000 volts on the fence line and a minimum of 1.5 joules of stored energy. Four to five wires are best. For more aggressive animals, you want the electrified fence to deliver a more intense shock to discourage them from going near the fence again so higher joules would be desirable on long fences.

How does an electric fence work with rotational and strip grazing?
Electric fencing is an excellent solution for containing animals on a short-term or temporary basis, as in rotational or strip grazing. The lightweight mobility of portable electric fencing is ideal for frequently moving livestock to different sections of pasture.

TCS Country Supplies has all the components needed to create grazing system including: plastic posts, poly wire and poly tape, reels and energisers. Because pastures frequently are not located near a MAINS power source, a full range of battery powered energisers is available.

Is electric fencing safe for my horses?
The short sharp shock your horse receives from an electric fence will not injure it, but will teach it to respect and avoid the fence. Very roughly, the shock produced by a small energiser is similar to a sharp whack by a riding crop.

Traditional fencing is more apt to injure horses when they get scared or spooked and attempt to push through or jump over it. A properly installed electric fence system is the safest, most visible method to keep your horses contained.

Why is electric fence better than other types of horse fences?
Electric fencing is the most cost effective and efficient method of containing horses while safeguarding them from injury. Barbed wire, woven-wire, and wooden fences can injure a "spooked" horse that attempts to run through or jump over them. Injuries a horse will sustain if it gets tangled in barbed wire may be fatal.

Electric fencing is lower cost, easier to install, requires less maintenance and controls horses more effectively than traditional fencing.

What's the best way to fence aggressive horses or stallions?
If normally kept segregated for breeding purposes, stallions or other aggressive horses may become highly motivated to escape confinement, especially when nearby mares are in heat.

To contain aggressive horses, maintain 3,000 - 4,000 volts to the end of the fence line. Three or four strands of fence wire are best. The more aggressive the horse, the more higher the shock must be to discourage them so generally higher joule energisers are recommended.

How do I prevent "cribbing"?
An electrified wire can easily be added wire to an existing fence. This option can prevent "cribbing" or chewing the tops of wood fences, as well as keep horses from jumping, or prevent animal pressure on the fence. A range of insulators is available from TCS Country Supplies to allow an electrified wire to be erected on the top or interior of the fence. Offset type insulators will put the fence wire 13 – 22 mm out from the existing fence, preventing animals from pressing against it.

Is electric fence safe for my pets?
The short, sharp shock your pet receives from an electric fence will get their attention, but not harm the animal. This will teach it to avoid the fence in the future and stay within the boundary.

Why would I use an electric fence instead of a traditional fence?
Electric fences are portable and far less costly then a barrier type fence. Additionally they can be unobtrusive - you do not block the view. Using electric wires on the top or bottom of a chain link or wood fence can prevent digging under or jumping over the fence.

Can I electrify an existing wood, vinyl or chain link fence?
You can easily add an electrified wire to an existing chain link or wood fence. Insulators are available in a variety of styles from TCS Country Supplies that give the flexibility of putting an electrified wire at the outside top of the fence (to keep dogs, cats, and other animals from climbing or jumping over) or at the outside bottom to prevent dogs from digging underneath. This is a simple, low cost way to "dog-proof" an existing fence.

Is an Electric Fence Safe if you are fitted with a Pace-Maker?
There is little evidence to show that electric fencing actually causes harm if wearing a pace maker, however the precautionary advice would be to take extra care to avoid coming into contact with an electrified fence or energiser. If you do receive a shock and feel unwell it would be advisable to seek medical attention to ensure your pace maker has not been affected.
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