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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this technically isn't a goat question, but I thought this would be a good place to ask since so many people use electric fences to contain goats. Apologies if it needs to be moved.

Let me state up front that I don't know electricity, and may very well use the wrong words in my description of the problem.

Until last week, we had a single-strand electric fence around the inside of the chicken yard, to keep our livestock guardian dogs from trying to dig out. Early last week, we got so much rain the field flooded (the fence wire never went under water), and one of our dogs got freaked out and forced her way out of the yard. When she did, I discovered that the hot strand wasn't hot at all, even though the charger was flashing 'OK' at regular intervals like always.

After the water receded overnight, I made sure the fence wasn't shorted out and checked its charge again. Nada. Zip. This charger was less than 6 weeks old. As an interim fix, I disconnected that charger and ran a wire from the pig yard (which is contained within the chicken yard, and has its own hot fence) fence to the chicken yard, so the dogs would be deterred.

I returned the (apparently) defective charger to Tractor Supply and swapped it for a new one. I also ran a second hot wire around the chicken yard, about 4 inches off the ground, to further deter the female dog, who kept eyeballing the place where she had gone under in her panic. When I wired the second strand in, I added a kill switch because it was low enough that should another deluge come, that wire would be underwater and I didn't want the whole fence to be killed. Further, I wired switches on both chargers so I in essence have a single charger running all the fences at any given time, and a redundant (off-line) backup.

Still with me?

Recap: Two switchable chargers on a two-strand fence (plus the pig yard), with the bottom strand switchable. Total wired distance is no more than 2500 feet. Both chargers are solar powered. The pig yard charger is a Fi-Shock with a 4V batter backup, and delivers 2500V. The chicken yard charger is a Zareba with a 6V battery backup, and delivers 3500V. Both chargers are advertised to power up to 3 miles of wire.

Here's the problem: the pig yard charger kicks butt, and fully powers everything. The chicken yard charger barely registers any zap at all (using my highly technical "grab the hot wire and touch the ground" method). To double check the chicken yard charger I've disconnected EVERYTHING except for the single upper strand of the chicken yard fence, and I've bypassed the switch on that charger, instead running a wire from the charger directly to the fence.

I can't get any real zap at all, even off the most basic configuration. I've checked everything for shorts and can't find any, and I would expect a short to affect the zap from the pig yard charger and it doesn't.

If I directly touch the lead on the chicken yard charger and ground myself, it knocks my socks off. If I touch the wire coming off the charger (which is wired to the one-strand part of the fence), nothing. Logic would tell me there's a fence issue, but maybe it's more a "Fred doesn't understand electric fences" issue.

Am I missing something? I've checked everything I can think of, and I can't figure out why the fence works so well off one charger but not the other.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Hi
How many ground rods do you have? You should have at least 3 rods and I would space them 4 to 5 feet apart. Also check the wire you have running from the charger to the ground rods. Make sure that the wire is clean and has good contact with the ground rods. I prefer a solid core wire instead of those multi wire wires they get all nasty in no time and there goes your system once you lose your ground. You said that your fence had a good bite by the pigs is that closer to your ground rods? If so that may be telling you need more ground rods. Also I am a big ground rod guy I have seen some guys shove a piece a rebar in the ground and call it good enough. That is just a waste of your time. Go to your farm store get a real ground rod they are quite big around ten foot and you need to pound that baby down till you have about 1 to 2 feet left above the ground. Use a picket pounder if you have one. Anyway 3 of them should start you in the right direction. oh and since its winter you might have to wait till spring lol anyway I hope that helps.

Matt & Christine
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Each charger currently has a single ground rod, 6 feet long.

The pig yard ground rod is definitely in deeper, with all but about 6" in the ground. The chicken yard rod has about 18" showing.

This is actually the best time to drive more rods in, because the ground is soggy and soft. :)

So that I understand, why does the grounding rod depth (or number of rods) make such a difference? I'm truly clueless when it comes to electricity. Do I need to wire the rods to each other serially, or wire each one to the charger?

All my connecting wires are solid core copper, shielded.
 

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Be powerful. No other option exists.
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In wet ground, I doubt you'll need three. Here is coastal Texas, one good ground is enough.

That said, my first thought was inadequate grounding, also
 

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The High-Tech Ludite
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I second that it sounds like a ground problem.

I've got 3 10' grounds rods 10' apart pounded in so only about 6 inches is exposed. We have really sandy soild here so driving them into the water table (about 5' down here) keeps them well grounded.

I also used the bare solid wire joining the ground rods and insulated solid wire from the last ground rod to the charger.

Hope this helps,
 

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I may have to read through this again to make sure I understand correctly.

If you are saying that your "pig" charger works well on your chicken fence, but you "chicken" charger does not, there are several possiblilites

1) the ground on your "chicken" charger is inadequate or not really connected well.

2) what ever wire you are disconnecting from your "chicken" charger when you are connecting the "pig" charger is grounded out or arcing out someplace (does it by any chance go underground?)

3) you have some weird capacitance on the chicken charge hookup that is sucking down the pulse even though it isn't arcing (unlikely but possible)

4) you have and inadequate charger on the chicken cage*

*I had a small pen I wished to put an electric wire around without running a line over from my main fence. I went to the farm store and bought a "cheap" ($34 I think) "horse corral" charger. It was rated for 3 miles of fence. A couple of weeks later some friends came over and when I asked where their 3 year old was, they said "down looking at the animals" thinking of the electic fence, I ran down to tell him not to touch it........too late.... he was sitting in the grass touching it and getting a mild buzz just for fun. Those "horse corral chargers ought to be against the law. Don't ever buy a charger rated for less than 50 miles. (properly you should look for the "joules" rating... I don't know what to suggest the minimum should be, hopefully someone else on here can give you a figure) I have learned the hard way that one of those 3 miles chargers won't phase anything that much wants to get in or out..........even with just 30 or 40 feet of wire going around a small pen.


Makes me wonder :rolleyes: my "joke" horse corral charger was from TSC
 

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I agree to check your grounding. The deeper and the more rods you have, the better. You can wire them in series or direct to the charger. What material are your rods? And what wire are you using to connect the ground rods to the charger?

For how many joules are your chargers rated? This is what I understand is the best way to rate the jolt your charger will give you. It does roughly translate to the distance listed on the charger, but the distance is otherwise not indicative of what it can do. I don't remember the explanation in enough detail about why volts is not what you want to use to rate your chargers either, but anyway, don't use that either. ;)

Are the chicken & pig fences made of the same materials?

Do you have a battery on the chargers or do they only work when there is sunlight? If you have a battery, check that. I am not fond of the solar chargers because most don't have enough joules to do much. Although your fence sounds pretty small. Maybe you're just not getting enough direct sunlight to fully charge the sucker?

Do you have two chargers running power along the same fenceline? If so, maybe you're feeding power into one charger from the other and zapping it. Not good.

Hope this gives you some ideas.

Also sounds like you may have a drainage problem if your lower wire would be underwater at any point.
 

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Have you walked along the fence with a meter (starting at the charger)?

I had a similar problem once. I finally discovered that an insulator had a "hairline crack. I could not see it because the wire was covering it. the "hairline "crack was just enough to allow for a "partial grounding" of the fence.
 

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Try disconnecting the fence from the charger and test the charger itself. That should tell you if it's the fence grounding or the charger.

This fall I couldn't get my fence hot until I found that a wire had slipped off an insulator and was touching the wire that held the insulator to the metal post. I didn't notice that 5 second fix until I had spent over an hour and absentmindedly grabbed both posts on the disconnected charger with my bare hands. It knocked me back about 5 feet and rattled my teeth. Charger good. :)
 

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Is the leadout wire (charger to fence) from the chicken lot charger made of the same material as the one for the pig lot charger? Is the connection really tight?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Is the leadout wire (charger to fence) from the chicken lot charger made of the same material as the one for the pig lot charger? Is the connection really tight?
Yes, and yes. :)


Update from today:

I put another grounding rod in by the chicken yard charger, and wired it up. No change. I moved the chicken yard charger, and hooked it up on the wires that the pig yard charger was on. No change.

I'm starting to think it's the charger. The first one (that quit working after about a month) packed a good wallop. I dunno. I'm about ready to get another Fi-Shock charger.
 
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