Electric fencing can be used to contain a wide variety of domestic animals and livestock, and offers a convenient, flexible solution for both animal containment and predator/critter exclusion. The electric fence system that you choose will depend largely on the animals you intend to contain or exclude, and this will also determine what electric fence supplies and components you will need to do the job effectively. Electric fencing comes in a wide range of options and a diverse range of components that allows you to build a fence that meets all your specific requirements. This guide will assist you to choose the most suitable components for your electric fence, and will ensure that you have all the necessary supplies on hand before you begin installing your electric fence.
Step 1: Determine What Type of Fence is Needed
When choosing an electric fencing system, the first thing that you need to determine is whether you are wanting a temporary (portable or fixed), semi-permanent, or permanent fence, or just need to reinforce an existing fence with a psychological barrier. Temporary electric fences are typically portable systems that are quick and easy to install and dismantle, and are used for strip grazing, or for creating temporary fences or paddocks that will be used for up to a year.
Semi-permanent and permanent fences need to be designed to withstand wear and tear by livestock and the elements over a much longer period.
Step 2: Determine the Length and Height of Your Fence
What is the Size of the Area You Wish to Fence?
The size of the area that is being fenced will determine the length of your fence, which will affect the material quantities needed to complete the job.
What Animals are You Wanting to Manage?
Electric fencing requirements differ depending on the animals that are being managed. The type of animal that you are wishing to manage will determine:
- the required height of your fence
- how many strands are needed
- whether to use a polytape or wire conductor, or whether netting would be a better option
Most electric fencing suppliers cater for all types of animals, including: livestock, pigs, horses, sheep/goats, exotic animals, and deer. If you are wanting to manage small domestic animals such as dogs or rabbits, protect fish, or exclude small wildlife critters, then a pre-packaged electric fence kit specially designed for this purpose may be a better choice.
Step 3: Determine The Type and Number of Line Posts Required
The type of line posts you will need for your fence will depend largely on whether it is a temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent fence.
Plastic tread-in posts that are specially designed to accommodate a range of conductors, offer a handy solution for temporary portable electric fences. Alternatively thin metal rebar line posts can be used for fixed temporary fencing, along with wooden or metal T-posts for corner posts. For semi-permanent or permanent fencing, T-posts with wooden corner posts offer a durable long-lasting solution, and for a more sturdy permanent fence, an all wood post fence offers maximum strength and durability.
The number of line posts will be determined by the length of your fence and the desired post spacing – posts are usually spaced 12-15 feet apart. To calculate the number of line posts required: Perimeter ft./post spacing = number of line posts needed.
Step 4: Determine the Type and Number of Corner Posts Required
Corner posts bear more tension and strain than line posts and therefore need to be sturdier. Wooden posts are recommended for corner posts, but T-posts can be used as corner posts for temporary electric fences. Determine how many corner posts are needed – you will need a corner post at every corner of the fence, and on either side of a gate opening.
Step 5: Choose the Type of Conductor Will You Use for Your Fence
The type of conducting wire that you choose will be determined by the type of animal that you wish to manage. Conducting wire is available in steel, which is economical; aluminum, which is long-lasting and comes with a lifetime warranty; polywire, which is easy to install; or polytape, which is highly visible and ideal for electric horse fencing.
Step 6: Determine How Many Strands of Wire are Needed
The number of strands you require on your electric fence will depend on the type and size of animal you are managing. You will also need to take different age classes in the group into consideration (foals, calves, etc) and account for these too.
To calculate the total amount of conducting wire needed: Length of perimeter (feet) x the number of strands required = total feet of wire needed.
Step 7: Determine the Type and Number of Insulators Required
The type of insulators your require will depend on the type of post and the type of wire that you have selected for your electric fence. The insulator you choose must be compatible with your post type and your conductor wire. To determine the number of insulators you require: calculate the number of fence posts x the number of strands = number of insulators needed. To determine the number of corner/end post insulators you require: calculate the number of corner/end posts x the number of wire strands = number of corner/end post insulators required.
Step 8: Determine What Type of Energizer Best Meets Your Requirements
Choose a mains-, battery-, or solar-powered electric fence charger according to what is best suited to your application. Battery powered electric fence chargers are ideal for temporary portable fences and shorter fences in isolated areas where there is no access to mains power. Solar powered electric fence chargers offer a maintenance free alternative. Mains powered electric fence chargers pack a lot more power, and are ideal for permanent electrical fencing when mains power is available. The strength of the charger you require will depend on the length of your fence, and the vegetation/weed growth that is likely to affect the flow of electrical current along your fence.
Step 9: Select the Type of Gates you will use with Your Electric Fence
Choose the type of gate type to use with your electric fencing according to personal preference.
- electrified spring gate – expands to 20′
- electric wire gate with insulating gate handle
- standard rigid metal farm gate with insulated cable running electric current to other side of gate
Step 10: Grounding System Required
A basic one wire grounding system can be used in most circumstances, but in very dry soils that have poor conducting properties, a two-wire system, with extra grounding rods is recommended to ensure adequate grounding and proper functioning of your electric fence.
Electric fencing is quick and easy to install, and only requires the following basic tools:
- Post hole digger and/or T-post driver
- Phillips and standard screwdrivers
- String line
- Cordless drill
- Tape Measure