How should I electrify my fence?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by brandislee, May 3, 2011.

  1. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been reading posts about electric fences and I have managed to NOT get any of my questions answered, and to bring up more questions.

    My run is about 30x30, with 2x3 welded wire and chicken wire around the bottom and extended out a few feet to prevent digging. I'm going to string wire back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth...) between the top posts to deter hawks and owls. Now my only concern is climbers like raccoons, so I was thinking I would electrify the top of the fence. (and I am just hoping beyond hope that we don't have weasels...)

    But I was reading other posts to try to figure out exactly how I would do this, and came up with a concern- will climbers even get shocked? Is the wire of the fence (which presumably they will be in contact with as they are climbing) be enough of a ground so they get shocked? Or would I be better off electrifying the whole fence? Or is that even possible with the fence being in contact with the ground?

    My concern with electrifying the entire fence is not really the well being of my chickens or my dog (as I believe they would all learn the first time they tried to touch it...) but my kids, who despite being of above average intelligence don't learn very quickly from their injuries (so what if I hit my head on the wall when I jumped off the couch- I think I'll do it again!). So I'm afraid THEY won't learn after the first time they touch it. Of course, I know it won't really hurt them, so if that's the best option I'm willing to do it.

    Anyway, can I get some answers from other people with electric fencing? Anyone with just the top or top and bottom electrified? Thanks!
     
  2. P-Funk

    P-Funk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Growing up around horses is all I know about electric fences. I spent a few years as an electrician, too. Whatever touches the fence must be grounded, or the current has nowhere to go. The better the ground, the bigger the shock. Try it - stand on one foot and grab the fence. Then put both feet down. Then have your kids touch you while holding the fence, WARNING - it may knock you all over. Insulators are absolutely important. A grounded electric fence won't work at all, even a blade of grass will conduct current. I would suggest placing the electric wire a few inches outside of the existing chicken wire, so whatever (climbing or flying) touches both wires will get zapped. Keep posting with any more questions.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:If the metal fencewire they are climbing on is well-grounded (and your soil is not bone-dry or frozen, and your whole setup is working correctly, of course) then yes they will get a good zap.

    The way a lot of people install their run fencing, it ends up pretty well grounded sort of automatically, being quite snug against the dirt and dirt sort of piles up around the bottom edge and 'consumes' it, and often metal t-posts used as well. But if you have any doubt, it is certainly easy enough to run a WELL CONNECTED heavy-gauge metal wire or two from the fence to buried in the ground; or, better yet, when you connect the fencer's "ground" terminal to the ground rod ALSO connect it to the fence mesh. This bypasses any possibility of too-dry-or-too-frozen problems. Did that make sense?

    I think it's real smart to add a coupla hotwires to that 2x3 mesh btw -- while I suppose yours may be different, I have yet to personally see any 2x3 mesh that is not very light-grade poorly-welded "garden type" as opposed to livestock-type, and would only trust it up to a point...

    Or would I be better off electrifying the whole fence? Or is that even possible with the fence being in contact with the ground?

    No no no. It's neither possible nor desirable. Use standoff insulators (the ones that hold the hotwire 4-5" away from the metal fence) and electric fence wire on them, perhaps one strand 6-12" from the ground (depending how well you expect to be willing to keep grass/weed growth up off it, b/c when vegetation starts to touch it it'll start grounding out the fence) and another near the top of the fence; even maybe a third at "dog nose height" if your dog is larger and you are concerned about his intentions.

    my kids, who despite being of above average intelligence don't learn very quickly from their injuries (so what if I hit my head on the wall when I jumped off the couch- I think I'll do it again!). So I'm afraid THEY won't learn after the first time they touch it.

    After a few times they WILL learn, especially if you are running an appropriate voltage to really deter predators (3,000-4,000v) [​IMG]

    The main thing to remember about electric fencing is that it is only as good as its installation/maintenance, and it is EXTREMELY common for people to unknowingly screw those things up; and that when it "goes" you can't expect to automatically know, so should get a good fence tester (ideally a digital model, yes they are more expensive, as those five-neon-light jobbies are notoriously inaccurate and for keeping out dogs and raccoons you really need a certain voltage not just 'ooo it zapped me') and USE IT FREQUENTLY, every day or two is good but at least every week plus after any event that could have caused damage.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  4. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the thorough replies- you've helped me a lot! I'm hoping my welded wire is strong- it seems strong to me. While I was installing it none of the welds came undone like they often do with those cheaper garden fences.

    I got all my stuff today, and as long as I don't get lazy I will probably run wire along the bottom (a foot or so up, probably just were the chicken wire ends) as well as the top. I just need to do that and hang the gate and my run is done- yay!
     

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