electric fence questions

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hi we are putting up electric fencing around our chicken coop and fenced in yard, about a 45'x25' space altogether. We are alternating electric wire with wire not electrified, for climbing predators. A couple questions got us stuck: How do we run the wires over the gate door? Do we run all seven (3 not electric 4 electrified) over the gate too? WE were going to use rebar for the ground rod but are afraid of rusting... what else could we use that's not that expensive? Can we use cedar posts and trees too, for the insulators? Some corners have trees. How do we tighten the wire as we go? And finally, the dumbest question perhaps...how do we test the fence once it is up? Do we have to buy an expensive tester of some sort? I'm sure I'll want to test it everyday for awhile till the novelty wears off. Anyone who can help me I would be greatly appreciative. Thankyou.

-- Michele Rae Padgett (michelesmelodyfarm@Yahoo.com), June 07, 2001


You dont want to use post or trees as insulators. You can by stand offs to use on post and trees but never directly attach an electric fence to post or tree. Rebar will work if its long enough. Rust is fine as long as the ground connection is rust free. Once you pound in the rebar, make the ground attachment then coat the connection with a water protector. As for testing, Many a young child will test it by peeing on the fence. I would not advise this. Simply placing the back of your hand (NOTE back of hand) on the wire will give you a little shock and force you to pull your hand away.

-- Gary (gws@redbird.net), June 07, 2001.

Michele We use a short 2x4 with the insulator nailed on to it,then we nail the 2x4 to the tree. Connect the electrified wires together and only run one wire over the gate preferable insulated. PVC pipe over the gate with the wire inside works quite well .Connect the other wires together and connect to the ground rod. Jeffers has a test light for testing for under $10. Jay central NC

-- jay vance (jay.l.vance@worldnet.att.net), June 07, 2001.


I have put up several miles of electric fence wire, and have learned a great deal from it. Here is how I would build the fence to protect your coop using predominately Jeffers products (so you can see that they are from their catalog (800-JEFFERS). Some can be bought from your local co-op or farmer's supply outlet.

I would use polywire rather than aluminum wire as it is more forgiving and can be hand-tightened. ($26.50 for a 820' spool.) If you want to go with aluminum wire, same basic principle will apply except you will need a different gate system.

I no longer use trees unless I have to as they spit off the insulator about twice a year as they grow. 1) Here you can use a black hollow electric fence tube, not carried by Jeffers, but I ordered mine through the local Co-op. Cut length long enough to go around the tree, plus a bit more in the line. You can hold their height with just a fence staple put in just enough to hold it. As the trees grow, they will just push out the tubing. 2) Use the same method and insulators as used for corner insulators. Just attach the insulator to the inside side of the tree at the desired height using a fence staple.

In one corner of the front put in at least 4" diameter pressure treated post at least six feet long. Space them as wide as you want the gate. Now use 6' t-posts no farther apart than 10'(I think they are $2.65 each locally) including the back corners. Be sure to put the nubs in the direction you want the fence to run. If you don't have a t-post driver, borrow one from a neighbor.

For corner and end insulators I would use black corner post insulors (#BW-CP-10 - 10 for $1.24). I attach them by making a loop out of the polywire, put the middle through the hole and then bring the end back thorough the loop. The remaining loop needs to be large enough to also make a loop over the post. This fixes the insulator to the corner posts.

For the in-line t-posts, I would use T-Post wire insulators (#D4-13- 11 - 25 for $2.65).

You can set the height and number of wires as desired. Personally I wouldn't use alternating hot and ground wires. The ground will act as a grounding point when they touch the fence.

Now run your wire around the enclosure overlapping the gate by a bit, tying off at the post which will be the end of your wire just pulling the wire tight by hand. (Note, when you do this you will have extra wire the width of your gate plus some. Don't be frugal with the polywire at this point.)

For a gate I would add about 8" of the hollow tubing to the end of the wire, run it to the end insulator and attach the tube to the post with a staple put in just enough to keep the tube snug.

Purchase a plastic gate handle for each of the strands. Jeffers has three they call good (red), better (yellow) and black (best). I have found the red (good) ones last and work longer than the yellow (better) ones and are 2/3rds cheaper.

OK, now you are going to have to have something to attached the handles to. Slip on a length of tubing which will reach from where you first tied off the wire to a bit past the post towards where you ended the wire. Make a loop in the end of the wire large enough for the attachment end of the gate handle to go into. Cut it off at the right length and connect it to the wire where you started, then secure the tubing to that side of the gate.

Now estimate the length of the entra wire you have to where the gate handle will be about one inch short of the wire loop (there is a spring inside the handle). Run the wire through the wire attachment end of the handle at least twice, then tie it off.

To open the gate, simply unhook the handles and hang them from the fence on their side of the post. There would be a problem with shorting if you use alternate hot/cold strands, but that can be solved by simply unplugging the charger.

The reason I recommend this type of gate is the gate would be your weakest point. If a bear can hear or smell the electricity, it may get to the gate and say, "Hummm, dummier thought this gate would stop me. He he he."

The bacon is a good idea. However, don't just lay in on the fence. Tie it on. You might also consider tying on chicken wings.

Jeffers sells a tester which can only tell you whether or not it has juice for $2.65. Another simple way to test is to put one of the gate handles near a grounded metal, such as a length of rebar put into the ground only enough to get it grounded. The length of spark between the end of the handle and the rod will give you a rough idea of how much juice is in the fence.

Again, my recommended is to go with the highest power charger you can afford. I want that initial shock to be memorable.

By the way, I've seen calves test the wire with their noses several times before they were convinced it was the cause of their reaction.

I use a single stand of polywire to keep my cattle away from hay bales.

My WAG is you are looking at less than $200 including the charger and less than a mornings work.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), June 07, 2001.

An old farmer's method of testing the fence is to pull a strand of green grass and lay it on the live wire . Providing you are not wearing some really well insulating footwear, you should provide a good enough connection between you and the ground that the fence should just give a little tingle to you through the strand of grass as you hold it. We used this method while we were dairying in our younger days and it always seemed to work. Saved marching all the way back to the house for the tester to see if you found all the grounded out spots on the wire after a storm.

-- Sandra Nelson (Magin@starband.net), June 07, 2001.

To test my fence I use a DRY stick about 12" or longer with a piece of wire coiled around the end and the remaining wire sticking out from the end of the stick. Contact the end of the wire on the stick with the electric wire and across to another non-electrified wire. Sparks mean it's hot. No shocking yourself with this method. I also bend the end of the wire over so I can hang my "testers" on the fence(non-electric) for checking before going through. I have a combination of electric and barbed wire for some of my fencing and another area has 4' field fence with one strand of electric at the top. No problems with goats and cows escaping with this fencing. good luck with your project!

-- Nancy (sonflower35@icqmail.com), June 07, 2001.

Blade of grass works fine but you need a really long piece, maybe a foot or so, for a modern electric fence. Start with full length of the grass then move your hand closer to the wire until you can feel the tingle.

-- john hill (john@cnd.co.nz), June 07, 2001.

Grandpa showed me 40 years ago how to test hotwire with a DRY grass blade, and if your'e not a total wuss, a six or eight inch piece is fine, it will tingle fairly strongly, so start at the far end.

And rebar works wonderful as ground rods, very, very long lasting, and cheap!

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (annie@1st.net), June 08, 2001.

Rebar also works well for testing! And for all you little boys out there, peeing on the electric fence is not recommended, unless you know the trick.

-- john hill (john@cnd.co.nz), June 08, 2001.

We run our electric fence wire under the ground at each gate. You have to use wire made for that purpose but it eliminates having to use the wire fence gate handles each time you want to go through the gate. My sweetie erected a huge fence around our garden this year and spoke with the electroshock rep about how to adequately install and get the most voltage with the least leakage through the wire. We have an almost seven foot tall fence that pushes a 1000 volts through, and have found that the under the gate method works best for us as we are constantly in and out of the garden. The wire can be purchased at some Home Depots where you buy the regular fence wire and insulators. If you can't find it there, you can usually order it from a distributor. I do not think Jeffers carries it. But we have run wire under our gates and our hay feeders which are built into our wood fences for the horses. It works great and there is no need to duck or use the fence handles every time you go in or out.

-- Cindy (colawson@mindspring.com), June 08, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ