What Kind of Electric Fence Do I Need? 6 Questions to Ask Before Installation

What Kind of Electric Fence Do I Need? 6 Questions to Ask Before Installation

When it comes to electric fence planning, the first thing you need to do is define your fencing needs. What type of fence is best suited to your purpose?

You need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What type of animals will the electric fence be used for?
  2. Is the fence for containment or deterrent or both?
  3. What size is the area to be fenced?
  4. Can an old fence be adapted or is a new fence required?
  5. How will local soil quality affect this fence?
  6. What tools and supplies will I need for an electric fence?

Generally speaking, fences are grouped into three general categories, regardless of whether they have been electrified or not. The three categories are temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent.

  • Temporary Fencing is used for short periods of time, usually no more than a few days. They are typically only run for a short distance and are quick and easy to install. Temporary fencing is commonly used as cross-fencing in rotational grazing systems and to construct portable corrals for livestock and horses.
  • Semi-Permanent Fences are constructed of a combination of both permanent and temporary components. Often used for pastures or cross-fencing, semi-permanent fences can last up to 20 years.
  • Permanent Fences can be made of wood, barbed wire, pipe, woven wire, vinyl or high-tensile. A permanent fence is often electrified and, when constructed well, can last more than 40 years.

The table below is a handy, quick guide to figuring out which electric fence types may work for your situation.

 PORTABLE/
TEMPORARY
SEMI-
PERMANENT/
PERMANENT
PERMANENT
HIGH TENSILE
ELECTRIC HORSE
FENCE
Expected Fence Life Short term, frequent moves 1 to 20 years 20 to 40 years 5 to 15 years
Ease of Installation Simple, fast Easy to moderate Moderate, special tools required Moderate
Animals Controlled Cows, horses, pets, lawn and garden pests Cows, horses, hogs, sheep, goats, exotics, deer, predators Cows, hogs, sheep, goats, exotics, deer, predators Horses
Best Suited For Temporary fencing, managed intensive grazing Pastures, cross fences Permanent perimeter installations High visibility, horse pasture
Post Type Step-in posts, steel and rod posts, fiberglass posts T-posts, rod posts, U-posts Wood posts, T-posts, U-posts T-posts, U-posts, wood posts
Wire Type Poly wire, poly tape, poly rope Poly wire, poly tape, poly rope, steel wire 12 gauge high tensile wire Poly tape, poly wire, poly rope
Distance Short Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Features Lightweight, reusable, easy to move Workable with any configuration of posts and conductive wire Longest life fence system available, minimal maintenance Affordable, use with vinyl post sleeves for attractive, white-rail look
 PORTABLE/
TEMPORARY
SEMI-
PERMANENT/
PERMANENT
Expected Fence Life Short term, frequent moves 1 to 20 years
Ease of Installation Simple, fast Easy to moderate
Animals Controlled Cows, horses, pets, lawn and garden pests Cows, horses, hogs, sheep, goats, exotics, deer, predators
Best Suited For Temporary fencing, managed intensive grazing Pastures, cross fences
Post Type Step-in posts, steel and rod posts, fiberglass posts T-posts, rod posts, U-posts
Wire Type Poly wire, poly tape, poly rope Poly wire, poly tape, poly rope, steel wire
Distance Short Unlimited
Features Lightweight, reusable, easy to move Workable with any configuration of posts and conductive wire
 PERMANENT
HIGH TENSILE
ELECTRIC HORSE
FENCE
Expected Fence Life 20 to 40 years 5 to 15 years
Ease of Installation Moderate, special tools required Moderate
Animals Controlled Cows, hogs, sheep, goats, exotics, deer, predators Horses
Best Suited For Permanent perimeter installations High visibility, horse pasture
Post Type Wood posts, T-posts, U-posts T-posts, U-posts, wood posts
Wire Type 12 gauge high tensile wire Poly tape, poly wire, poly rope
Distance Unlimited Unlimited
Features Longest life fence system available, minimal maintenance Affordable, use with vinyl post sleeves for attractive, white-rail look

 

1) Animal Needs: What Kind of Livestock is Being Fenced?

Overall, the animal you are confining or deterring will largely determine the type of fencing you need. Factors such as the animal’s hooves, thickness and length of hair coat, height and jumping ability should all be considered when selecting your fence. In some situations, an electric fence may be necessary for effective containment. In others, a simple fence that acts as a physical barrier may be adequate.

Generally, animals with thick, shaggy coats will require a more powerful fence charger than sleek-coated animals. Always place the conductive wire(s) at nose level and space wires as not to allow the animal to push its head through without getting shocked.

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Plan your fence according to the type of livestock that will be contained by it. Sheep, for example, have a thick coat that doesn’t conduct electricity well, so extra precautions are required.
Plan your fence according to the type of livestock that will be contained by it. Sheep, for example, have a thick coat that doesn’t conduct electricity well, so extra precautions are required.

 

2) Containing or Deterring: What is the Main Function of the Fence?

Electric fences are normally meant to contain your livestock. However, they can also be used to keep animals out of an area. Fences meant for deterring can keep animals and livestock away from valuable crops, out of ponds, away from restricted areas or stop predators from entering a livestock pasture.

Essentially, the fewer restrictions you’re placing on wild life and livestock, then the fewer wires your electric fences will need. With more restrictions, you will likely need more lines.

Further, your fence can serve as both a containment fence and a determent fence, a decision that can also increase the number of wires you need to run.

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3) Size of Area: Know Your Supply Needs

You will need to determine the size of the area you wish to fence. This can be measured in acres or miles. The length of fence runs will determine the amount of fencing materials needed and the size and type of charger necessary when running an electric fence. Consider the location of power sources as well when choosing a charger, which can be AC powered or solar.

Also be sure to count the number of posts you’ll be installing and/or using, as well as those that serve as corner posts. Knowing these numbers will help you when ordering insulators and other accessories and supplies for your fence.

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4) Building On: Will You Install a New Fence or Add On?

If building a new fence, you’ll obviously be starting from scratch. However, adding to an existing fence is also a viable option. Specialty insulators can be used to add a “hot wire” to existing perimeter fences, including chain link fences.

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The quality of soil on your pastures can greatly affect the operation of your fence. Dry soil has a harder time conducting electricity, which delivers a weaker charge.
The quality of soil on your pastures can greatly affect the operation of your fence. Dry soil has a harder time conducting electricity, which delivers a weaker charge.

 

5) Soil Quality: The Importance of Grounding

While soil quality isn’t something most people think about when they decide to build a fence, it’s worth discussing. Our research has shown that about 85-90% of the time when there is a problem with an electric fence, the cause can be traced back to improper grounding.

Take a look at the soil of the area where you are going to build your electric fence. The quality of your soil will determine the type of grounding rod system you will need. You can research soil types for your area on the US Soil Web found here: http://casoilresource.lawr.ucdavis.edu/gmap/

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6) Be Prepared: The Tools and Supplies You Need for an Electric Fence

Assembling an electric fence requires a number of supplies and tools, and Zareba® Systems has everything you need to get your fence up and running in no time.

Start by selecting the right fence charger for you, followed by your choice of wire, poly tape or poly wire. Next you’ll want to pick out the proper postsinsulators and the tools and accessories for building your electric fence.

Once you’ve made your selections, you can rest assured that Zareba® will take care of your every need with our unparalleled customer service team and easy-to-use website. We look forward to working with you!

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What’s Your Fence Plan?

Do you have questions about your electric fence? If so leave a comment below or ask us when you visit Zareba® on Facebook!

The Zareba® Systems Learning Center also has more details on defining your fencing needs. In addition, you can find out more about grounding and how to construct a ground wire return system during your visit to the Learning Center.

Finally, be sure to subscribe to our E-Newsletter for more helpful articles, livestock tips and announcements of new products.