Using An Electric Fence To Control Livestock

If you've ever kept livestock on your land, you'll know how difficult it is to keep the animals within their boundaries. Traditionally, barbed wire fencing was used to restrain the animals and stop them from escaping; however, the use of electric fencing has surpassed more traditional methods and is a better alternative for controlling your cattle. 

What Exactly is Electric Fencing?

Electric fencing is a type of fence system that encompasses an electric energizer and a perimeter of fence wire that is tied back to posts along the length of the fence. The fence contractor assembly itself constitutes a high voltage open circuit, which is completed whenever an animal comes into contact with the fence. When the circuit completes, the animal receives a non-lethal shock that moves it back into the holding area.  The most important components of a high-performance electric fence are as follows: 

  • A strong connection between the energizer and the ground. 
  • Good conductivity of the ground on which the animals are kept. 
  • Good conductor insulation to avoid overheating. 
  • Thick gauged wire in order to carry current effectively.

Why Use an Electric Fence?

The logic behind electric fences isn't to inflict pain on the animal; rather, it is to associate the weak physical barrier with a strong psychological barrier that stops the animal from attempting to escape. This approach is just as effective at keeping unwanted trespassers out as it is keeping your own animals inside. 

The three main advantages of using an electric fence are: 

  • Ease of construction - Wire fences are lightweight and can be constructed fairly quickly, even in challenging terrain. The ease of construction makes it suitable for a DIY project, which also reduces the cost of installation. 
  • Durability - Due to their nature, electric fences aren't subject to the full weight of animals, meaning it will last much longer. 
  • Low maintenance - As a consequence of their durability, electric fences are very easy to maintain. Once the fence has been properly installed and the animals are aware of the fence, there is very little left to do. A simple check on the voltage is sufficient in order to determine how the fence is operating. 
  • Better for the animals - It may seem contradictory, but electric fencing is actually much better for the animals than traditional barbed wire. The reason for this is related to the psychological association that the animal creates with the fence - when it feels the small shock, it knows not to approach the fence again. Barbed wire, on the other hand, won't cause much pain until the wire has penetrated the animal's hide. This is a much more painful situation for the animal, and will cost you extra money in veterinary bills to treat. 

How Should You Look After Your Electric Fence?

As mentioned, electric fences are very easy to maintain; however, you still have to keep on top of things to ensure the fence is serving its purpose. Be sure to follow the tips below to keep your fence in working order and make sure you don't make any common mistakes

  • Check your electric fence for vegetation that is near, or approaching, the fence line. Any vegetation that is allowed to grow over the fence will reduce the voltage in the line, which in turn diminishes your fence's efficiency. 
  • Make sure all live wires are connected together at the termination of each fence section. This stops any gaps in the current from occurring, which could render your fence ineffective if not protected against. 
  • Test your earth system by short-circuiting the live fence line to the ground, switching the energizer on and measuring the voltage between ground and connection. The connection to the ground can be made with a simple metal rod, and the measurement can be taken with a voltmeter.