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Hello all, first time on site and I love it!! I have searched this site before posting question but couldn't find my answer. Having said that, can I keep 6 sheep in a 5 acre field using only 4 strands of electric fence and 1 austrailian shepherd dog? I already have the fence and dog, and dog does a great job with my chickens and keeps the many coyotes off my property. I just didn't know if the wool would insulate the electric shock from sheep's body. denver*c
 

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You may have meant this but I would make sure that one or two of the fence wires were not "hot" but were grounded good. That greatly intensifies the "heat" on the shock. I keep my sheep in with 2 "hot" and 2 "grounded" wires=4 total. Make sure the dog does not chase the sheep...some are pretty playful. A herding dog like yours or Border Collie is primarily for moving sheep and don't stay with them.

Tim
Knoxville, TN
 
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I have kept my sheep in a five strand (three live, two grounded) electric fence successfully for many years. I do not have dogs that run loose--ie as livestock protectors-- and we have quite a few coyotes around. But never have seen coyotes in the sheep pastures. I think they have probably sneaked up to the fence and hit it with their noses and decided the sheep dinner was not worth the pain. I have had dogs run through the fence a few times. They see the sheep and run at them so fast that they zip right through the fence before getting zapped. I was around both times and dealt with the dogs (and the owners!!) before anything happened. I did get the ewes used to the concept of a fence that bites by running a strand of wire around their small corral for a few weeks before I turned them out in the big pasture the first year. They do not feel a charge through the wool--they have to get zapped on the nose. We do not turn the sheep out on the electrified pasture til late April, early May-- by the time the lambs are a month or more old. I am not sure what would happen if they were out there from the very beginning. I mean when the lambs are at the age where they form "gangs" and run madly back and forth the length of whatever pen or pasture they are in. They just might go right through an electric fence at that age!!
Buy as powerful a charger as you can afford. And depending on how much and how fast your grass grows you might have to kill or trim the grass under the fence to keep it from draining your power. Get a tester and do check the fence periodically to be sure that it is working properly and not getting shorted out somewhere. Put a surge protector on it to protect the charger against lightning strikes if you are in that sort of area.
Once they learn to repect an electric fence you can easily section off a pasture with just a single strand and portable posts to make the sheep graze more efficiently.
 
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THANKS!!!! You all answered the way I had hoped....haha I appreciate the quick response, and your previous expierience. denver*c
 
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Hi - quick note to put in my 2 cents. We keep our flock in with only 2 wires and have no problems at all. No preditor problems but we do have a Pyraneese/Kuvas cross dog with them.
 

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Sheep inspect everything with their wet nose. Put a few pieces of tin foil on the fence and let them "discover" it. After a while, it won't even matter if the fence is on. They learn quickly.
 

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One thing I have learned over the years - the sheep can somehow tell when the wires are hot and when they aren't. When the fence is off, my sheep will graze much closer and even under the wires. I think they can sense the charge with their noses.

If their fleeces are wet and touch the fence they most definitely DO feel the charge.

At one point when being chased by a neighbor's dog, the lead wether decided to bail out of the pasture - clamped his eyes shut and ran pell mell through the charged wires. Led the other sheep up to the house to get "mom". Happy sheep stay home.

Dee
 

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I've noticed that my ram will test the fence. We had one fellow who made it his duty to sneak under the fence. Maybe his horns protected him.

For predator control, a sheep protector dog or trained donkey will probably work better than a fence. We move our sheep around using portable electric fence netting. This has the added advantage of keeping out certain predators. I've found that when I take the electric fence down, the sheep step onto the fresh grass and stop. I can usually just reset the fence while they graze.

Don't forget the mineral salt.
 
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I recently read Walden Two by B.F. Skinner. He describes a group of sheep that were taught to fear an electric fence, then the sheep taught their young to stay away from the fence as well. Does this really happen?
 

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A quick electric fence story. One of my wife's cousins managed a sheep farm in Hawaii for a while. He tried to intensively graze with electric fence. He gave up when he was faced with "suicide sheep". One sheep would throw itself on the wire and the other sheep would leap over it. Eventually, the zapped sheep would stagger over the fence. This happened repeatedly. The farm switched to cattle.
 

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My lambs learned very early on to respect the electric... very sad to watch little lambs stick noses on the mesh then jump back and squeek! But we're having trouble holding a charge right now and they're still respecting the fence, so that early training paid off.
 
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