In our previous article, Safe Fencing Options for Horses, the components of a safe and effective electric fence were described. The setup of your electric fence is important and will determine how safe and effective your fence will be. In this article are the key steps to ensure a functional and safe electric fence barrier that your horses will respect!
Install your fence controller under cover (unless it is solar powered) and protect it from moisture. The fence controller lead-out wire carries voltage from the fence terminal to the fence. A jumper wire carries voltage from one electrified fence line to the next. Use insulted cable that is manufactured for electric fencing (10 to 14 gauge wire insulated to 20,000 volts). Do not use common electrical wiring as it is only rated for 600 volt use.
Install at least one 6 ft. galvanized or copper ground rod within 20 ft. of the fence controller. Use a ground rod clamp to attach the insulated ground wire to the ground rod, do not simply wrap the wire around the rod. The ground wire should be 10 to 14 gauge wire and insulated from 600 to 20,000 volts. For the best results, install three ground rods 6 ft. deep into the earth, spaced 10ft. apart. If possible, install ground rods in areas that tend to retain moisture.
Do not install ground rods within 50 ft. of a utility ground rod, buried telephone line, or buried water-line because they could be affected by stray voltage. This is evident if you receive pulsing shocks from water spigots or water tanks or if you hear the pulse of the fence controller in your phone, television, or radio.
Make secure wire connections using wire clamps, wire connectors, and proper splices. Simply wrapping the wires together can cause corrosion at the splice and can reduce the power on the fence. Use high quality insulators, gate handles, and insulator wrap, with UV inhibitors for your fence to help elongate its useful life. If using metal fence posts, make sure fence wires cannot touch the post. There are specific types of wood posts designed for electric fence use without insulators.
Don’t Forget to Keep It Up!
Once your fence is installed, remember the commitment you made to maintain it. You will want to check tension and charge often as part of your daily routine. The last thing you want is loose wires or low charge because that means loose horses! When planning your fence-checking schedule, take seasonal variations into account. You may need to check it more frequently during bad weather seasons or even if you have a lot of wildlife in your region. For example, deer can cause more fence damage during hunting season because they are moving around more. The better you manage your horses and their environment, the longer your fence will serve its purpose and the happier and safer you and your horses will be! Here are a few more tips:
- Look for and remove sources of interference: Mow or trim under bottom strand to prevent grass and weeds from touching the fence; watch for fallen limbs or other objects on the fence or caught in insulators.
- Check insulators: A broken insulator can allow the fence strand to touch the post, which can be a problem if you are using steel posts. A broken insulator can cause the fence to go dead when the strand touches the metal.
- Check connections: Ground-rod wires can get knocked or kicked away. Wires attaching the cable to the fence may come loose. Make sure the system is secure!
- Check the charger: Make sure it is functioning and clean. A dirty terminal can cause it to spark.
- Check insulated cable: Look for places where the cable may be abraded or frayed and ensure it has not been gnawed on by pests.
- Check fence strands: Look for frayed spots in poly tape, as metal fibers in the weave that become separated cannot conduct current. Loose or damaged wires may lose power and become dangerous for horses to get tangled in.
Following the above steps and being committed to the maintenance of your electric fence will help keep your horses safe and happy.
Andrew Swenson is a long time horse lover and writer. He is the Assistant Director of Web Operations and currently manages the blog on gallagherfence.net. He loves working for Redstone Supply and helping people with their horse fencing needs. Redstone Supply is the leader in internet distribution of Gallagher Fence products.