Date: June 17th, 2011
Why use electric fence? First, it is easy to install. Depending on the size of the enclosure, a temporary or semi-permanent fence system can be set up in a few minutes to a few hours. Second, it is economical, costing much less than barbed wire or woven wire fencing per linear foot. Third, there are many different ways to configure your fence and it can be designed for a specific animal, from cattle and horses to rabbits or llamas. And lastly, electric fencing provides better control of animals, creating a psychological barrier as well as a physical one.
Electric fencing is safe for people and animals. The short, safe but intense shock of an electric fence means that animals will quickly learn to respect it and stay away. The electrical pulse is extremely short (approximately 1/10,000 of a second) followed by no electricity on the fence for a full second or more.
There are five main components to an electric fence system; the electric fence controller, the ground system, the fence posts, the fence wire and insulators. The fence controller produces an intermittent shock on the fence line, which the animal quickly learns to respect.
A properly installed ground system is what allows the animal to feel the shock put out by the fence controller. It should consist of three, six ft ground rods driven into the soil. The Safe Fence Ground Rod Kit provides 3 - 6 foot long galvanized ground rods, 3 brass ground rod nuts and 48 feet of 12 gauge triple galvanized connection wire to create a 40 foot ground field.The fence controller is then attached to the ground rods using clamps and insulated wire. The electrical pulse produced by the fence controller must make its way back to the fence controller via the ground system in order for the animal to feel a shock (which all happens instantaneously).
Fence posts are the backbone of the electric fence. The type of post used is dependent on the type of fence needed and the desired life of the fence. Temporary fences or rotational grazing systems will use step-in posts. Semi-permanent fencing will generally use t-posts with a fence life of 1-10 years. Wood posts are required for permanent, electrified high tensile fence systems. Generally speaking, the spacing of the posts on an electrified fence can be much farther apart than on conventional barbed wire or woven wire fences. Anyone that has ever installed a fence knows that putting in the posts is the hardest part of building a fence. With posts spaced farther apart you can use less posts and save a lot of money and energy. Proper installation and spacing of fence posts is one of the keys to the longevity of your fence.
Electric fence wire carries the electrical current around the enclosure and must conduct electricity. Fence wire can be aluminum or galvanized steel, or for temporary or semi-permanent installations, poly wire or poly tape are good choices. Poly tape provides greater visibility and has reinforced rip-stop edges to protect the tape from wear and tear. Poly rope is also a good option where additional strength and visibility are important.
Finally, insulators are needed to insulate the electrified wire from touching the fence posts and to maintain proper wire spacing. Remember, a "hot wire" must be positioned at the nose level of the animal being contained or excluded. Insulators are available in yellow, black or white colors and are specific to the type of post and to the type of wire being used.
By: John Hoffman at Zareba Systems