The addition of fencing material and energizers to our inventory has afforded us the opportunity to work with new farmers and hobbyists setting up operations for the first time. We get to talk with them about planning their fencing properly, and what constitutes an effective electrified fence. And yes, we have the opportunity to help them avoid some of the more common fencing mistakes.
Planning out an electrified fence is not difficult in principle. But to do it right, you have to understand the principles of electrified fencing. An electric fence is substantially different from a barbed wire fence – in both function and purpose. You will not get the best results following barbed wire principles.
The fencing principles described below are complements of Beef Magazine and contributing author Alaina Burt. They are part a great article describing electrified fencing mistakes as explained by industry experts.
Corner Post Depth
The corner posts of any fence system take most of the stress given that they support wires pulling in two directions. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not driving corner posts deeply enough. The general rule is to measure the distance between the ground and the height of the top wire, then drive posts in to a depth equal to or greater than that measurement.
If the highest wire is going to be 3 feet off the ground, you need 3 feet of post driven into the ground. You need enough post to offset the tension of the wires pulling in both directions. A post that is not driven deeply enough is one that will eventually pull out.
The general rule for barbed wire fences is to place a post every 16 feet or so. Though this distance is quite short, a lot of posts are needed to support the barbed wire. Electric fencing doesn’t need nearly as much support. Rather than 16 feet apart, posts for electrified fencing should be closer to 80 feet. You could go as far as 100 feet to save money on posts. Space them as little as 50 feet apart if you are not comfortable with greater distances.
Why does all this matter? Because wood does not conduct electricity. Every post in an electrified fencing system represents a choke point if it interferes with electrical conductivity.
An effective electrified fence applies just the right amount of voltage based on the total length of the system. Regardless of the number of wires in the system, the rule for containing cattle and horses is 1 joule per mile of fencing. For smaller animals, it is okay to use energizers with outputs of 0.05 joules per mile of fencing.
This is one particular area in which it’s impossible to give rock-solid advice. Property owners have to consider the animals they are trying to contain in order to determine the correct voltage. We offer enough choices in energizers to meet the needs of most smaller systems.
Grounding the Fence
One last thing to consider is how you will ground the fence. Normally, grounding rods are installed at a rate of 3 feet for every joule of output. The experts recommend against placing all the grounding rods very near the energizer. Instead, they say it’s better to space grounding rods evenly apart. This is because soil conditions can affect how well grounding rods work.
Once you understand the principles of electrified fencing, planning and installing new fence is pretty routine. Here at Mytee Products, we have what you need to build your own fence for cattle or small animals.