electric fencing, anyone?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by amazondoc, Jul 11, 2008.

  1. amazondoc

    amazondoc Cracked Egghead

    2,847
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    Mar 31, 2008
    Lebanon, TN
    I really appreciated our earlier gun discussion. It gave me a lot of good information to think about.

    Now, perhaps we can have a similar talk about electric fencing?

    I am thinking more and more strongly about putting up a hot wire around the enclosed chicken yard. In addition, I'm thinking about running it from there over to another fence line, which may end up having llamas behind it. In both cases, my main intention is to keep my own dogs out. I expect the dogs to do a pretty good job of keeping other critters away.

    Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about electric fences. I mean, I know you need a charger, and the wires run across insulators, but that's about it.

    So, here's a few questions to start with:

    1. How do you deal with gates through an electric fence?
    2. How do you decide what strength of charge to use?
    3. Do you need different types of chargers and/or wire for different charges?
    4. One side of the chicken yard fence will be on the property line. The neighbors have a small boy, so I don't want to put the hot wire on that side -- don't want to be shocking the neighbor's kid! However, this will also be the only side that the dogs won't be able to patrol, so it makes me nervous about predators. I also can't bury fencing since my land is solid rock, but I will run a length of fence wire out on the ground and put rock on top, which I hope will discourage any digging.

    I'll think of more questions later. Any input would be welcomed!
     
  2. farmgirlie1031

    farmgirlie1031 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 26, 2008
    IA
    We have it for our horses as we rent and there was no fence at all. It was cheaper than a more permanant fence and we can take it with us when we move. We used the white electric tape. My one dog liked to try and chase horses:( She was kept on a lead at all times due to this. Well, one day she hit the fence with her nose learned it hurts and now won't go near the horses [​IMG] She has her own electric fenced area to play in now [​IMG] It is the goat fencing (PermaNet[​IMG] 10/48/6 Electric Netting) but it works great for her. She hit it once and never tries to climb it ever as it hurts. Just what I wanted her to learn. Not that I don't love walking her but sometimes I wanted her to be able to run around while I was busy doing something else. And the best thing of all is the chargers are solar power so they don't cost us a dime to run. And I can use it for goats later on when we get them [​IMG] The tape or net is what we will use from now on. I like it tons better than the wire.

    http://www.premier1supplies.com/ This is where we got our supplies and I love them. There are other suppliers also. But because this one is close to us we did not have to pay shipping [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2008
  3. DLS

    DLS Chillin' With My Peeps

    I put a fenc around mt birds it worked for a month or so .. now I can't make it work. I have been all over the NET askin questions.. I still can't make it work..
    [​IMG]
     
  4. panner123

    panner123 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    The place to start is afence.com They answered all my questions in a way that I was able to understand it and put to use the plans they laid out. Plus I didn't have tobuy their products. I found the same products locally and cheaper.
     
  5. dixygirl

    dixygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 14, 2008
    Quote:If it is the horse type electric fence here are some pointers. Walk all the way around and make sure the tape is not touching anything. There can not be a limb, a leaf or even a blade of grass or weed touching it. If there is, the weed will grab the energy and send it to the ground through the tree or the plant's roots. If the corner of the fence touches anywhere or anything at all you need to fix it so that the only thing that touches the fence are the plastic insulators. Otherwise it will take the shock away (short circuit it).

    It could have also gotten a lightening surge during a thunder storm. The unit would then be broken. They have lightening protectors you could add to prevent that. Lastly, make sure you did put the grounding poles in the ground and they are still connected to the unit. If you wet the ground where the grounding rods are it will increase the shock too.

    Hope that helps
    dixy
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2008
  6. ninjapoodles

    ninjapoodles Sees What You Did There

    May 24, 2008
    Central Arkansas
    Quote:1. They make insulated "handles" with springs on one end and a hook on the other, both "hot." The current runs through the plastic part so that you can safely grip it. Unhook the handle, open the gate. When we're leaving the gate open (during free-ranging), we turn off the fence, so it doesn't ground out. Here's a pic of the gate that shows the handles:
    [​IMG]

    2. Err on the side of "too much" charge, within reason. Chargers measure strength in miles, generally. The charger we're currently using is from our horse pasture before we moved, and it's a 20-mile charger. Do we (or did we ever) have 20 miles of fence? HA. [​IMG] But, having a big charger gives us the freedom to add more and more and more wire as we grow, and just continue to run it off that same charger. It may give a bigger pop than it needs to, but with our predator problems, we don't really care. None of our dogs has ever hit it more than once.

    3. Nope. The type of wire doesn't affect the charge.

    4. Your charger is set (or can be set) to "pulse." That means that it's not a continuous current, but a quick, intermittent one. Ours pulses for a fraction of a second, with a second in between pulses. So, it's not like the scenes you may remember from TV and movies where someone grabs the fence and then can't let go. I would put the fence up on the boundary with the neighbor, and also post several little signs, one every few feet, facing out that way, and talk to your neighbor about it as well. They'll have the signs at the stores or in the catalogs where you buy your fencing supplies; they say "CAUTION, ELECTRIC FENCE," and many have graphics that even small children can understand, and certainly a child can be shown the signs and the fence and taught that it would HURT to touch it. Our daughter has NEVER touched an electric fence, and we've had them since before she was born. As you can see in the above pic, she's playing all around the fence, but she's sure not touching it.

    I can't tell you how many times I've been zapped by hot-wire. In one profound display of operant conditioning FAIL, I once had a stallion paddock setup on which the hot-wire connected at exactly the right height for me to lay my FOREHEAD into it...repeatedly. :eek:
    My point is, it's not painful, exactly, and it can't harm you. The sensation is, for lack of a better term, "schocking." It startles the heck out of you, and causes you to jump back (and most likely get more air than you'd have ever thought possible), but it does not injure, burn, or harm you in any way. I guess maybe if you had a pacemaker?

    But honestly--if a 20-mile charger doesn't harm a 12-pound miniature poodle, it's not going to harm a child. If there was any danger of that, we wouldn't have one on our property. Just be sure you get a pulser.
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
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    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    1. How do you deal with gates through an electric fence?

    What ninjapoodles illustrates, except that the best thing to do is to trench your electric underneath the gateway (using double-insulated fence wire inside of pvc or thick garden hose), and making the part that actually stretches across the gateway wired-in such that only the handle end attaches to a live part of the fence. That way when the gate is 'closed' it is live, but as soon as you unhook the handle, that loose gateway wire becomes dead (=cannot zap you, cannot zap stock, will not ground the fence out) while the entire rest of the fence remains live.

    2. How do you decide what strength of charge to use?

    There are tables of how much charge you need to contain (or in the case of predators, exclude) different kinds of animals.

    3. Do you need different types of chargers and/or wire for different charges?

    Yes. Your charger needs to be sized according to how much length of what type of fence material you will have, and what your soil conditions are, and what kind(s) of animals you're trying to impress.

    Choosing a charger is really best done by getting professional advice from the company that makes or sells the chargers. I highly recommend www.premier1supplies.com for electric fence supplies and ADVICE, even if you only end up buying your fence components and not your charger from them.

    DO NOT BELIEVE this "charges X miles of fence" crap they print on boxes. It is MEANINGLESS for anyone's practical purposes. What they mean is "under ideal laboratory conditions it can theoretically charge that length of perfectly-conductive wire with no drain on it". In reality, your fence will consist of >1 wire of a less than perfect conductor, probably with some weeds or bum insulators or sparky connections, less than perfectly conductive soil, and a less than perfect ground. Just totally ignore the 'charges X miles" thing. Honest.

    3. Nope. The type of wire doesn't affect the charge.

    Sorry but this is quite incorrect. Some electric fence materials pose a LOT more electrical resistance than others. So your charger has to be sized according to how much of *what* you're using.

    it's not painful, exactly, and it can't harm you<snip> it does not injure, burn, or harm you in any way. I guess maybe if you had a pacemaker?

    Um, actually, people are killed every coupla years by electric fences. I am not saying 'they're dangerous, don't use them' -- most deaths relate to unwise fence installation, and the remainder are quite rare -- but they CAN injure or kill you and it's important to take this seriously when installing. A young child died crawling headfirst into an electric fence in wet grass; farmers have been killed when slipping in such a way as to hang an arm over electric fence while standing in water; etcetera etcetera. And yes, I am talking about properly-installed 'normal' chargers that produce a pulsed rather than continuous charge.

    Premier's advice, which is the best I've seen, is to avoid putting the fence anywhere you're likely to contact it with your head or neck, and when possible arrange it so that if you fall against it you are unlikely to remain in contact with it (ie. don't use very low wires unless you *have* to), and keep kids, elderly, people with pacemakers etc away from the fence. Don't use any more powerful charger than you have to for the job at hand. And don't locate it near high-voltage powerlines (I won't go into details here unless someone really cares, but it's to avoid the risk of lethally-high voltage 'burps').

    RESPECT ELECTRICITY, 'cuz it ain't gonna respect *you* [​IMG]

    Amazondoc, two other things thing to bear in mind about electric fence installation: 1) think carefully about whether you want plug-in, battery or solar. Plug-in is cheapest but poses a risk of fire to whatever structure the charger is in, if the fence gets lightning-struck (although a properly installed lightning choke will reduce that risk). Battery-operated makes sense if you are leery about fire safety in possible plug-in locations... you will have to be religious about testing and replacing the battery as needed, though, or you will have a NONelectric fence [​IMG] Solar is not as good an option as it might seem, since you cannot get more-powerful units that are solar-powered and they STILL require batteries replaced every few years (more often if you let the battery get drained flat-out by a ground such as weed growth). It is not a totally easy decision. Talk with Premier, or a charger manufacturer.

    And 2) you don't want your ground rod(s) installed near buried power, phone or water lines... so you have to think about where you will PUT the charger and ground rods. Otherwise, you risk inadvertantly electrifying your water supply (more common than you might think, when metal pipes are involved!) or the risk of stray super-high voltage on your fence or messing up your phone and/or AM radio reception. Sounds weird but is true.

    Electric fences are wonderful, if designed intelligently and installed and maintained CORRECTLY (so many are not) and treated with a modicum of respect.

    Pat​
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    93
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hm, if your land "is solid rock" you may not be able to use a conventional electric fence anyhow... they rely on the water content of the soil to provide a conductive path to complete the circuit.

    Look into "positive-neutral" fence designs, where instead of hooking the ground terminal of the fence up to ground rods, you hook them up to alternate wire strands on the fence. An animal thus completes the circuit, and gets zapped, by touching BOTH types of fence wire AT ONCE.

    It is not quite as reliable as a normal electric fence, because it requires more fence contact and in a specific way -- however, in conditions where a conventional electric fence just will not work (or won't work well), including if you literally are On Rock with just dry sand or gravel on top of it, the pos-neutral fence can work decently well and certainly beats nothin' at all.

    Just something else to look into.


    Pat
     
  9. ninjapoodles

    ninjapoodles Sees What You Did There

    May 24, 2008
    Central Arkansas
    Quote:What ninjapoodles illustrates, except that the best thing to do is to trench your electric underneath the gateway (using double-insulated fence wire inside of pvc or thick garden hose), and making the part that actually stretches across the gateway wired-in such that only the handle end attaches to a live part of the fence. That way when the gate is 'closed' it is live, but as soon as you unhook the handle, that loose gateway wire becomes dead (=cannot zap you, cannot zap stock, will not ground the fence out) while the entire rest of the fence remains live.

    2. How do you decide what strength of charge to use?

    There are tables of how much charge you need to contain (or in the case of predators, exclude) different kinds of animals.

    3. Do you need different types of chargers and/or wire for different charges?

    Yes. Your charger needs to be sized according to how much length of what type of fence material you will have, and what your soil conditions are, and what kind(s) of animals you're trying to impress.

    Choosing a charger is really best done by getting professional advice from the company that makes or sells the chargers. I highly recommend www.premier1supplies.com for electric fence supplies and ADVICE, even if you only end up buying your fence components and not your charger from them.

    DO NOT BELIEVE this "charges X miles of fence" crap they print on boxes. It is MEANINGLESS for anyone's practical purposes. What they mean is "under ideal laboratory conditions it can theoretically charge that length of perfectly-conductive wire with no drain on it". In reality, your fence will consist of >1 wire of a less than perfect conductor, probably with some weeds or bum insulators or sparky connections, less than perfectly conductive soil, and a less than perfect ground. Just totally ignore the 'charges X miles" thing. Honest.

    3. Nope. The type of wire doesn't affect the charge.

    Sorry but this is quite incorrect. Some electric fence materials pose a LOT more electrical resistance than others. So your charger has to be sized according to how much of *what* you're using.

    it's not painful, exactly, and it can't harm you<snip> it does not injure, burn, or harm you in any way. I guess maybe if you had a pacemaker?

    Um, actually, people are killed every coupla years by electric fences. I am not saying 'they're dangerous, don't use them' -- most deaths relate to unwise fence installation, and the remainder are quite rare -- but they CAN injure or kill you and it's important to take this seriously when installing. A young child died crawling headfirst into an electric fence in wet grass; farmers have been killed when slipping in such a way as to hang an arm over electric fence while standing in water; etcetera etcetera. And yes, I am talking about properly-installed 'normal' chargers that produce a pulsed rather than continuous charge.

    Premier's advice, which is the best I've seen, is to avoid putting the fence anywhere you're likely to contact it with your head or neck, and when possible arrange it so that if you fall against it you are unlikely to remain in contact with it (ie. don't use very low wires unless you *have* to), and keep kids, elderly, people with pacemakers etc away from the fence. Don't use any more powerful charger than you have to for the job at hand. And don't locate it near high-voltage powerlines (I won't go into details here unless someone really cares, but it's to avoid the risk of lethally-high voltage 'burps').

    RESPECT ELECTRICITY, 'cuz it ain't gonna respect *you* [​IMG]

    Amazondoc, two other things thing to bear in mind about electric fence installation: 1) think carefully about whether you want plug-in, battery or solar. Plug-in is cheapest but poses a risk of fire to whatever structure the charger is in, if the fence gets lightning-struck (although a properly installed lightning choke will reduce that risk). Battery-operated makes sense if you are leery about fire safety in possible plug-in locations... you will have to be religious about testing and replacing the battery as needed, though, or you will have a NONelectric fence [​IMG] Solar is not as good an option as it might seem, since you cannot get more-powerful units that are solar-powered and they STILL require batteries replaced every few years (more often if you let the battery get drained flat-out by a ground such as weed growth). It is not a totally easy decision. Talk with Premier, or a charger manufacturer.

    And 2) you don't want your ground rod(s) installed near buried power, phone or water lines... so you have to think about where you will PUT the charger and ground rods. Otherwise, you risk inadvertantly electrifying your water supply (more common than you might think, when metal pipes are involved!) or the risk of stray super-high voltage on your fence or messing up your phone and/or AM radio reception. Sounds weird but is true.

    Electric fences are wonderful, if designed intelligently and installed and maintained CORRECTLY (so many are not) and treated with a modicum of respect.

    Pat​

    Thanks for the info--I have NEVER heard of anyone being killed or even injured by a regular, properly running and installed livestock fence. I'd love to have links to any such info, if you have any handy, just so we can educate ourselves better. We've used electric fence for almost 18 years now, and really trust it. I need to learn more, if in fact people are being killed and injured by what I considered a very safe type of fencing!

    When I say the gauge of wire doesn't matter, I mean that within the parameters set by the manufacturer of the controller, it doesn't seem to matter. Each controller will specify the gauge of wire range, like 7-10 gauge, etc.

    I've also used the electric "tape," which I really loved for horses, not so much for poultry.

    We didn't need to trench since any time the door is open, we WANT the current dead, and for longer than a few minutes we turn it off to keep it from grounding out. But that is a good point if you have multiple containment areas running off one controller.

    We've used the solar and plug-in controllers...I haven't found the solar ones to be terribly reliable over the long term. Our controllers are always fence-mounted, not indoors, with a dedicated line running out to the controller. Another down side to plug-in controllers is that, if you have a power outage, your pens are vulnerable during that time.​
     
  10. ninjapoodles

    ninjapoodles Sees What You Did There

    May 24, 2008
    Central Arkansas
    I will add, we've definitely seen a few small songbirds "fried" by lighting on electric fence (OK, not so much fried as just shocked w/probably heart failure resulting). That's one of the reasons that, although I see people say that nothing will get shocked that isn't touching the ground, I don't believe it. We've also seen a raccoon get "popped" by a hot-wire running along the top of a tall fence.
     

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