Electric Fence Installation
When you have chosen the equipment required for the application planned, installing electric fencing is not difficult and there are a few simple ideas to keep in mind.
Electric fences are not designed to be robust impenetrable barriers but instead rely upon animals changing their behaviour as a result of receiving a shock.
Rule 1. Make sure that the conductor (current-carrying rope, tape or wire) does not touch anything that will drain power away.
Rule 2. Make sure you have an efficient earth to return the current back to the energizer when the animal touches the conductor.
Rule 3. Train the target animal to respect the fence
And that is it.
Follow those three simple rules and your fence will deliver the "sting" you are looking for.
Corner Posts are the base of the fence and are placed where the straight-line fence has to be bent, either at the end of a fence, at corners or where the fence takes a slight alteration in direction. As the electric wires do not need to be strained as tightly as a plain or barbed wire fence the posts do not have to be as substantial as conventional wire fences. A simple post in the ground with a bed-log laid just below ground level and at right angles to the tension will be sufficient for most situations. Should the ground be particularly boggy or multiple, highly strung wires are planned then the more substantial "H" configuration is very stable.
In-line posts.These form a straight line between corner posts with the fence conductor on the side where the challenge is coming from. The distance between posts is entirely at your discretion. The further apart they are the more the conductor wire will sag and if it is a tape, the more it will flap in the wind. It is better to place the posts so that the line will follow the topography of the ground, ie; in the hollows and highest points. A 5 to 10m interval between posts is fine.Install the ends and corners first and use these to give you a straight line.
Fence Height.The conductors need to be aimed at the animals' most sensitive organ, the one they use the most to investigate unusual objects - that is the nose. It is wet, very sensitive and the majority of animals use it to test out un-known features. The nose-height of the resting target animal dictates the positioning of the first line. The second line should be sited in a position so that if the animal crouched to get under the first line it will again get the nose or the top of the legs if a horse is using a blanket to insulate it from the top line.
If there are animals of different height then you must cater for both, ie; a Shetland and a Thoroughbred in the same field. There is a picture at the end of this article showing average heights, these may be adjusted to suite your own requirements.
Insulators prevent the essential current from escaping down the poles to earth. It is not recommended to use plastic tubing as water builds up in them and insects have a propensity to hide there causing increased corrosion to the conductor.
Corner Insulators.These should be attached first and may be either an "End/Corner Insulator" for tapes or "Egg Insulator" for wire, twine or ropes.
In-line insulators.Again these may be either for tape or rope. They may also be either nail/screw on or screw-in (have a built in screw). The tape insulators may be either clamp or free-flowing. The clamp type reduces the amount the tape will flap in the wind. Free-flowing insulators allow the conductor to have a "rubber-band" effect when an animal does put pressure on the fence and will allow the tape to last longer.
The Earth System.
To ensure your fence is working properly an effective earth system is essential. The earthing system is an integral and critical part of your energizers' performance and poor earthing accounts for the majority of problems. An electric fence is installed as an open circuit originating at the energizer. The current is carried by the fence wire placed in insulators. When touched by an animal the current flows through that animal into the ground so closing (completing) the circuit.
To enable the circuit to be completed and allow a current flow to take place it must return to the energizer via the ground. The earth system must be efficient enough to allow unrestricted current flow if the animal is to feel a shock. If the circuit is not completed the installation will not be effective and the animal will not feel a shock.
Remember that all electrical circuits must form a complete loop from the positive (live) to the negative (earth) terminals of the energizer. In terms of electric fencing this means that the ground (earth) is just as much part of the circuit as the fence line and the animal is the missing link that completes the loop.
Some energizers (generally the portable 9v models) are supplied with ground rods; these however must be correctly inserted into the ground for maximum effect. The larger the energizer, (longer the fence), the more efficient the earth system must be. This may involve using 2 or more ground rods.
There is always a chemical reaction taking place between soil and metal thus the greater the surface area between the earthstake and soil - the better. Rust is not an efficient conductor so a rusty stake will not be as effective as a galvanized stake or even better, a copper rod.
Always try to install the earth system in a permanently moist area. If this is not possible, water the ground around the earth stakes in dry weather conditions. In areas with particularly poor earthing conditions, ie. sand, peat or very dry soil, it is possible to increase the earth efficiency by:
1/. Increasing the number of earth stakes.
2/. Positioning the earth rod in a patch of continuously wet soil, under a tap or in a streambed.
3/. Running an earth wire below the live wire on the fence line.
Earth stakes must be totally independent of the household/domestic earth arrangements and at least 10 metres away from a domestic electricity supply earth rod where an earth leakage trip is employed.
Vegetation touching the fence will also complete the loop causing the output voltage of the energizer to drop. It is very important, therefore to keep any growth on the fence line to minimum to ensure the animal receives the maximum shock available. Larger, better quality energizers will burn off a fair amount of casual vegetation and assist in maintaining a good fence, but this should not be counted on to maintain your fence.
Many animals keep a fence line remarkably clean grazing beneath the wire. Vegetation may be controlled by the use of a strimmer. Should this not be feasible, vegetation may be burned off by a propane gas burner or a broad-spectrum herbicide (ie; Glyphosate) may be employed and sprayed in a band under the wire.
Joining Conductors. Joining Polytape is only correct by employing Tape connectors. These will maintain the shape of the tape as well as ensure there is a good connection for the transmission of electricity.
Polyrope and twine may be either joined by using Wire & Rope connectors or tying a knot as shown in the diagram. This involves baring the ends of the conductor and twisting them together.
Wire should be joined using a knot that maximises the contact area between the incoming and out-going wire. Reef knot or a figure-of-eight knot provide good contact and then wind the ends around itself as shown in the diagrams.
Gates.Electrified gates should only be connected to the source of electricity by the hook side of the apparatus. When the gate hook is disconnected this then makes the gate safe and should it touch the horse as it is going through, it will not be affected. If the gate drags on the ground it will not drain energy from the fence.
DO NOT use the gate itself to transmit power from one side of the gate to the rest of the fence. The gate hook has a very poor connection where it is hooked over the gate insulator that will reduce the power to the rest of the fence. (Remember the weakest link in the chain.)Rather use High Voltage Cable to transmit the maximum amount of energy to the rest of the fence Also the rest of the fence will be disconnected when the gate is open. Rather use an underground cable between posts.
Use a Gate insulator to connect to the fence and the gate handle will hook into the other loop. The spring or chord may be attached to a ring insulator screwed into the opposite gatepost but not connected to the rest of the fence.
Animals unaccustomed to electric fencing need to be made aware that this fence is different to others. Domestic animals will normally need little training and simply being released into the paddock as far away from the fence as possible so that they will gently acquaint themselves with the fence. Training is more important with un-domesticated animals and in particular Deer who tend to jump over the obstacle without investigating it or domestic animals where the fence requires re-inforcing.
This can be done by a range of methods;-
1/. Placing feed close to the wire. (Not very effective)
2/. Fencing off a small area and introducing the animal there. Time consuming and only suitable for domestic stock.
3/. Attaching thin strips of kitchen foil to the fence. These wave in the wind and attract the animal to investigate them. (Particularly good for birds, poultry, Ostriches and Rhea)
4/. Bait the wire. This works extremely well and involves applying an attractant to the wire for the initial period. Molasses or treacle is ideal for horses, sheep and goats. Peanut butter works with deer and rabbits.
This sounds harsh, but is VERY effective and after the first few animals get a sting the rest will learn from their experiences, termed "Socially Conditioned Avoidance," and the fence will be left alone. The bait may be removed after about a week.