A common question asked of me is “how many strands of electric fence wire do I need?”
The answer may surprise you. The number of strands isn’t nearly as important as the location and the spacing of the electrified wires.
1 hot wire must be at the nose level of the animal(s) you want to control. Base the nose level on visually imagining where the animal’s nose level is if it were to approach the fence with its head at its normal position while walking (in other words, with its head up, not down, as if in a grazing position). Always intend to shock the animal in front of its eyes (that’s usually on their nose) so that when shocked, the animal backs up. If the animal gets its head through the fence and is shocked behind its eyes (on the back of the head or shoulder) it will go forward, through the fence.
If you have different sized animals that you want to control with the same electrified fence, you have more than 1 nose level to consider (calves with cows for example).
1 hot wire must be at the nose level of the animals while there heads are down (in the grazing position). Ever notice how the animals tend to graze close to the fence…always looking for that greener grass on the other side of the fence.
If the animals are trained to the electric fence, you can usually get by with less hot wires. This is especially true of dairy animals that learn quickly to respect the shock of an electric fence and are docile due to human contact and the daily routine of going from pasture or shed to the milking area. Young animals are more difficult to control than adult animals and usually require more hot wires on the fence.
Look at the size of the animal’s head. Keep the space between the hot wires closer than the distance from the top to the bottom of the animal’s head. You don’t want the animal to be able to get its head between hot wires (see Rule #1).
If the fence is to keep animals/livestock in and predators out, you have to consider both types of animal. Predators will require hot wires very close to the ground with much closer spacing between the wires.
Rule # 7
Electric fencing is an art rather than a science…think creatively when building your electric fence.