Electric Fencing: A Safe and Affordable Choice!
If you are planning to build a new fence or replace old or damaged fencing or your horse farm, there are many reasons to choose electric fencing. When installed correctly, it is safe, effective, and, best of all, budget friendly and easy to maintain! Here’s what you need to know about electric fencing:
Main Components of an Electric Fence
Charger: Your charger needs to be powerful enough to work whenever a horse touches the wire, especially in cases where the current is might be hindered by grasses or brush touching the fence line or in wet, rainy weather. Joule ratings are the best indicator of strength, and one joule is a minimum rating for fencing that encloses up to five acres. Don’t worry, a higher joule rating does not mean the jolt will more painful, it simply means that the power put out will be more consistent. Install your charger under cover (except for solar-powered chargers, of course) where you can check it easily. Most chargers have a light that flashes when they are plugged in and functioning. You can get AC, DC, solar and even battery powered chargers.
Ground System: Now that you have a good charger, you will need a ground system. This is the key to your electric fence’s effectiveness. If your horse touches the fence, he feels a jolt when the electric current that goes through his body and into the ground is picked up by the ground system and returned to the fence charger, completing the circuit. They usually consist of metal rods in the ground connected by insulated wire. Check out our great ground system products.
Insulated Cable: This is the cable that carries the electricity from the charger to the fence and it needs to be specifically for electric fence. By using this special rated cable, you will not have to worry about electricity leakage that could results when you connect the charger to the fence with heavy-duty household electric cable. When attaching the cable to the fence itself, use a connector clamp rather than just wrapping the cable wire around the fence; cable connected by wrapping comes loose more easily or loses power due to oxidation or corrosion buildup. We recommend double insulated cable for this purpose.
The Fence Itself
With so many options to choose from, it is important to know that visibility is the most important aspect of an electric fence’s effectiveness and safety. Your horses need to be able to see the fencing barrier, so materials such as 1.5- or 2-inch poly tape, braid, or coated HT wire make the fence easy for your horse to see and avoid. These are permanent higher cost options, although electric fencing is the most economical of all safe fencing for horses! A medium cost option would be smaller width tapes, and the most economical option would be a simple wire. Choose a product with a good warranty and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for number and spacing of strands. A good general rule of thumb is four to five strands of fence, 4 to 4.5 feet high, for perimeter fences and three to four strands for interior fences.
Insulators: This is the item that holds the wire or tape onto your fence posts. The type of insulator you need is determined by your choice of electric fence. In general, braid, rope, and coated wire are installed on insulators that allow the fence to slide through. Avoid cheap plastic generic insulators, as they typically only last a few years.
Testing Your Fence
Once the work of building your fence is complete, you should regularly check its effectiveness. You can use a digital voltmeter to tell you exactly how many volts of current are on the fence and this will provide a baseline for when future checks show voltage drops. Depending on the strength of your charger, it will emit 6000 to 10,000 volts when nothing is connected to it. After you’ve hooked it to your fence, check the voltage at the furthest point from the charger. Some drop in voltage is normal but something more than a 2000-volt drop means either your charger is underpowered for the fence, vegetation or something else is touching the fence, or there there’s a short-circuit somewhere in the system (or a combination of these problems).
Enjoy Your New Fence!
Now that you know the main needs of an electric fence and what to look for, you are ready to get started on creating a safe and affordable way to “hold your horses!” But don’t just take our word for it, there are many other amazing resources praising the electric fence, like TheHorse.com, Horse and Rider, and even University Research Studies
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