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10 Things You Need to Know About Electric Fencing


high tensile electric fenceOne of the biggest challenges any livestock owner and/or farm manager faces is selecting the right fencing for their operation's needs. Fencing should not only keep livestock in and establish farm boundaries; it should also keep predators and unwanted visitors out. Whether you are a new hobby farmer looking to raise a few head of cattle or an experienced livestock farmer thinking about replacing your rusty barbed wire fence, electric fencing may work for you. Before you decide, here are ten things you need to know about electric fencing.

  1. Planning is Key
    Before you begin constructing your fence, plan where you want it and what components/type of electric fencing material you want to use. It's important to make sure your energizer/charger will be large enough to not only meet your current needs, but allow room for growth in the future as your herd expands.
  2. Adequate Voltage
    The most critical element of an electric fence is maintaining an adequate voltage charge. Consult with your local Southern States store or fencing expert to choose the appropriate charger for your amount and type of fence. Likewise, proper grounding is essential to maintaining adequate voltage. You may have to dig fairly deep to achieve optimum grounding.
  3. Temporary or Permanent
    Electric fences can be built for temporary or permanent use. Temporary electric fence gives you great flexibility and allows you to move your fencing at a moment's notice. Farmers often use temporary fence as part of a rotational grazing management program. Electrified wire can be added to existing fencing to create a more permanent solution.
  4. Various Fencing Options
    Depending on your operation's needs you can choose from high-tensile wire, polywire or polytape to construct your electric fence.
  5. Cost
    When compared to woven or barbed wire fences, the cost of electric fences are much less. Not only do electric fences have low initial costs, they have low operating costs and can be portable.
  6. Proper Installation
    Only approved fence chargers should be used as a home-built unit can be very dangerous. The fence charger must be operated full time and be properly grounded.
  7. Flexibility
    How you construct your fence will be determined by the kind of operation you run. Cattle can generally be confined with one strand of electric fence at nose level or about 30 inches from the ground while a cow-calf operation will need to use two strands to keep both cow and calf contained.  When using two strands place the bottom strand 18 inches from the ground and the top 36 inches from the ground.
  8. Patrol Fence line
    One of the most common reasons electric fences short circuit and become ineffective is overgrown vegetation interfering with the wires.  Inspect your fence line on a regular basis to make sure vegetation is controlled.
  9. Psychological Barrier
    In order for an electric fence to be effective, cattle need to know the fence will "bite" them whenever they touch it.
  10. Test Prior to Turnout
    Nothing's worse than an unexpected stampede when you let your cattle out into their new electrically fenced field. Test the voltage to make sure the charge will effectively keep your cattle inside the fence.

Do you have questions about what type of electric fencing would work best for your livestock operation? Ask one of our employees during your next visit to Southern States.


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