Everything you need to consider when choosing an electric fence

Firdaouss Amchich|5 minutes to read

The first thing to establish when buying an electric fence for your farm is what you want it to achieve. Do you want to protect your animals by keeping them inside? Or do you want to deter other animals and keep them outside? You will also need to decide between a permanent electric fence or a mobile electric fence. Yet another option is to electrify your existing, conventional fence. You can find out more detail about this in our 'What is an electric fence?' article.

Map out the species you want to keep inside – or outside – your electrified fencing, and measure the length the fence needs to be.

What type of fence is right for your animal?

If you want to find out which type of fence is the most suitable, you need to take into account the size of the terrain, the purpose of the electric fence and the type of animal. 

Electric fences for cattle can be built in several ways, depending on which cattle you are dealing with. Dairy cows are among the easiest animals to keep within an electric fence, because they are relatively slow and are used to everyday contact with people. An electric fence for beef cattle will require a device with a higher pulse energy. Such an electric fence for cows must be capable of dealing with strong, heavy and, in the case of bulls, sometimes aggressive animals.

Sheep live outdoors almost all year round. The wool that keeps them warm and cosy in adverse weather conditions is the reason it is so important that you choose the right fence. Because sheep's wool isolates them, they are better able to withstand a shock than other animals. Do you have a meadow containing only sheep? Then a fence of poles and sheep wire is sufficient. However, in some cases you may want extra security; installing a power wire could prevent the sheep from escaping or getting stuck somewhere. 

Pigs are very smart and are also good swimmers. These two characteristics show how important it is to have the right electric fence. Some people think that an adjacent ditch is a good enough barrier. But precisely because pigs can swim so well, this is a flawed approach to pig containment. 

Breeding pigs are easily controlled by an electric fence because they have modestly hairy bodies and large, wet noses. Pigs are intelligent animals and quickly learn to respect and avoid electric fences.

Horses are very sensitive animals. They are visual and naturally flighty animals. It’s therefore important that you choose a meadow fence that your horses can see easily, to avoid accidental damage and distress. 

Wild animals
The eternal problem faced by farmers everywhere is the damage caused by wild animals. In some areas, the most dangerous animals that cause the largest crop losses are wild boars. A wild boar fence can be made using a typical wire (1.2 mm) and a powerful electric fence energiser. It can also be equipped with a barbed wire line to provide a physical barrier even when power is lost. However, do remember that barbed wire should never be connected to power.

Deer also cause a lot of damage to crops. Traditional fences are ineffective barriers against deer; an electric fence is likely to be a more efficient deterrent and effective battier.

Wild rabbits and hares
Wild rabbits and hares can also cause serious crop destruction. When you plan your electric fence, you need to take into account the fact that wild hares or rabbits have much thicker fur than those bred at home. For this reason, they are less sensitive, and their fur performs a special type of insulation. This means that when you choose a fence energiser, the power of the device is a vital consideration. A sufficiently strong device will create a safe but painful pulse that will teach the pest not to enter the protected area. In some cases, nets can also provide the desired result.

Building an electric fence
When building a fence, you usually use wooden, fibreglass or plastic posts. As a guide for your electric fence you can choose between ribbon, twisted plastic cord and steel wire. If you are building a fence to prevent your cattle from trying to escape, the best solution is to use ribbon. Ribbon is more visible to the animals, so they are less likely to get close to it accidentally. When it comes to protecting crops from wild animals, steel wire should be used because it is much stronger.

Our shop carries numerous types of insulators; you will find different insulators designed specifically for tapes, ropes and wire. You may also need corner insulators, which can be chosen for both ropes and tapes.

A gate insulator is used together with a gate handle to build a gate into an electric fence, so that you can open and close the perimeter of the fence freely. You can also use ready-made gate sets.

A very important part of an electric fence is its grounding, to guarantee a reverse current flow from the ground to the energiser. The number of grounding rods depends on the length of the fence. The rods should be long enough to reach deeper and wetter parts of the ground. Damp soil conducts electricity better.

The number of guidelines you use is tailored to the area for which you are building a fence. For wild boar, for example, three steel wires are recommended, ranging from 25 cm to 75 cm. The maximum distance between the poles is 15 metres. 

The wire for wooden posts is mounted on different types of insulators, in order to maintain continuity of conductivity and to protect them against loss of electricity from the electric fence.

It is not advised that you place the electric fence between trees or hedges; loss of vegetation will cause loss of tension in the tape, rope or wire, which will reduce its efficiency. It’s also important that the electric fence is clearly visible and distinct, not part of the natural landscape, so that horses, for example, see the fence as a definitive boundary which cannot be crossed.

Always connect conductors using the appropriate connectors to prevent short circuits or breakage. Connecting tape with tape, for instance, will require a particular sort of connector. Taking a short cut on the type of connector can undermine the integrity of your electric fence. You will find the full range in the Kramp web shop here. 

The tensioner is an invaluable part of any reliable electric fence. As you’d expect, it maintains the correct tension, to ensure a safe and effective barrier. Different models are available for wire, ropes, and tapes.

Lightning strike
Electric fences are ideal conductors for lightning. For this reason, if you know a major storm is coming, it’s worth considering disconnecting your electric fence in advance – to protect the fence, the energiser and your animals. 

Electrified wire devices are often equipped with built-in lightning protection. However, it can be useful to give the device extra protection; investing in a fence lightning protector is a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides.

Power source
If it’s possible to power your electric fence via the mains, it’s probably the most trouble-free route. There are various fence energisers designed to connect to mains electricity. 

When you cannot connect to mains power, a battery-powered energiser, powered by a 12V or a 9V battery, is one option. You might also consider one of the models which can be connected to a solar panel,  which will allow the battery to charge and be protected against full discharge. 

Fence testers 
The voltmeter tells you the exact condition of your fence. It measures the voltage on the electric fence and enables you to check the operation of the earthing and electric fencing device.  

Warning signs
We strongly recommend putting up warning signs to notify passers-by about any electric fence on your property, to reduce the chance of accidents and to reduce your liability. 

If you’d like more specific guidance about electric fences, or advice on which compatible products are most suited to your particular property, get in touch with our product specialist shop and workshop. You can also contact us at knowledgecenter@kramp.com.

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Firdaouss Amchich

This article was written by:

Firdaouss Amchichknowledgecenter@kramp.com