electric fence question.

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by thegriffiths, Feb 21, 2004.

  1. thegriffiths

    thegriffiths Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2004
    Charleston, WV
    I am truly clueless when it comes to electric fences and I was wanting to install one around the bottom edge of my chicken fencing to keep out predators.

    My situation is that I have fencing that is only on 3 sides of my chicken area and my barn is the other wall. Does the electric fence have to go all the way around my area and tie back into my charger or can I just terminate it at the end of my fencing? If I have to continue the electric wire all the way to the charger I will have problems with doing so along the barn wall.

    Thanks for your help...I hope I made sense.

    Matt G
  2. bearkiller

    bearkiller Well-Known Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Northern California
    Naw, a closed loop is NOT necessary. The part I love best about electric fences is when I've been away for a short spell and come home to find the bears have gotten into them. Usually I find a place where it looks like Mr. Bruin has hit the brakes, pulled an abrupt U'ie, and then pealed out for parts unknown. Makes me grin for hours, it does.


  3. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    I prefer my fences to not be a loop. Then I know which way the juice is coming and can set them up to unhook different sections or keep my "gates" from being hot in my hand.

    I hate the way my husband laughs at me when I get zapped :)

  4. Case

    Case Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    The hot wire of an electric fence begins at the charger and can end anywhere. It has to be connected to posts with insulators.

    It works when an animal standing on the ground contacts it and completes the circuit to earth (ground).

    A hot wire running along your fence about six inches off the ground might zap coons, possums and other predators, but it would require a lot of maintenance to keep grass, weeds, etc., from contacting it and completing a circuit.

    You might be better off getting 1" x 2" welded wire and laying it flat on the ground outside and along your chicken fence so that it extends partly under it.

    Grass will grow through it and you can mow right over it.

    Wire the bottom of the chicken fence to it and animals will not be able to dig under.
  5. Cygnet

    Cygnet Guest

    Couple of tips on the fence ...

    Doesn't need to be a continous loop like others have said, the "loop" is completed when something touches the fence and the current runs through them, through the earth, to the ground.

    You want to put your ground somewhere *wet* -- because I'm in the desert where it rains once or twice in the winter and half a dozen times in the summer, my ground is sunk under a faucet outside that is deliberately left to drip a bit. The earth the critter's touching doesn't need to be wet, but the ground needs to be in very damp earth to work properly. It's also possible to sink it into your septic tank leach field if you need a "wet spot" for it.

    Use a LONG ground, several feet long.

    The ground will have to be copper, but everything else should be aluminum because the fence wires are aluminum and you'll get corrosion if you mix copper and aluminum. WHat this means is that, yes, you should spring for the expensive insulated aluminum wires for burying the fence if you've got to go under a gate or doorway.

    I've had a grass fire started by an arc from an electric fence ... if you've got long dry grass, use the fence with extreme caution. (In my case, it rained just a little, the fence arced, and started a fire that fortunately burned out in a few feet.)

    Don't bet on the fence stopping large hairy dogs -- I had a chow get over my fence (4' of no-climb plus 2 strands of neg and pos electric on top). My guess is that he was so hairy he had sufficient insulation to avoid being zapped. He ALSO pulled a sturdy coop door off my hen house and killed a guinea and tore up a chicken.

    Electric is great for discouraging digging, however ... a determined large dog can get through anything short of chain link or heavy-gauge no climb (welded wire will NOT stop a determined dog that knows to grab it and pull -- the welds will pop). So a combination of heavy fencing and electric is best if you really want to be secure.

    You can add some extra oomph to your fence by running two strands, one positive and one wired to the ground, about 2" apart. Any animal that contacts both of those is in for a shock ...

  6. happycat

    happycat Well-Known Member

    Dec 22, 2003
    Central Washington
    Cygnet, you mentioned a chow getting through your electric fence. I don't think it's their thick fur as much as it is their thick head!

    One of our dogs is a 14 year old Chow cross. She's so dense, she'll plow right through an electric fence if she see's anything on the other side she's interested in. An Invisible Fencing salesman that we had come out to our old house refused to sell us one because of our Chow. Maybe if we had done it when she was a puppy (well, we didn't get her until she was 1 1/2) she might have learned, but I think that just being really, really stubborn is part of the breed.

    Now, my cowdog/border collie, he got zapped on the fence around the at a friend's house once; he wouldn't go within 10 yards of those ponies again. Another place he got zapped while playing with some pigs. He doesn't have any interest in any pigs any more :)
  7. Sometimes you have to wonder about certain dogs that will cross a electric fence. Last winter and summer I had several goats behind a electric fence. Whenever I would go check on them my 2 beagles would follow. One wouldn't dare cross under, over, or through. But the other would cross under very low and would never get bit by the fence. It was like she new how to play limbo. She never did bother the goats so I was never concerned about her.
  8. Realist

    Realist Guest

    In additional to the information already posted, here are some things we've done to protect our ducks and geese. We run two lines of electric wire on the outside of a 6-foot high welded wire fence. One line is 6" off the ground, the other 6" below the top. Both lines are about 3 inches off the fence using various types of standoff insulators. We have a switch to separate the bottom line, because in deep snow, long wet grass, or anything else, the bottom wire shorts out and this allows us to throw the switch and disconnect the shorted bottom wire until we have time to troubleshoot. This keeps the top wire working and continues to provide some protection if we can't fix the problem quickly (like deep snow). Also, we have a main cutoff switch whenever we have to work on the wire that is easier to reach than going inside the barn to reach the charger itself. We check the wire regularly using a manual checker that lights up an LED if the wire is hot. We've used this system for several years and have kept many ducks safe, even though I often see foxes and our neighbor has lost all their chickens. The couple times we did lose ducks was when we neglected the fence and it had been shorted out for some time (as in a few weeks). I also believe we struggled quite a bit with proper grounding, as that can make a significant difference. Make sure you have a good grounding rod! We've finally gotten our fence to where it works well with little maintenance. Howeve, those first couple years involved a lot of troubleshooting and walking the fence line. We use both steel and aluminum wire. I pretty much only use aluminum these days, since it's so much easier to twist with my bare hands.

    Also, I'd love to hard-wire in an LED and resistor so that I could tell at a glance if the electric wire is working or not.
  9. Ana Bluebird

    Ana Bluebird Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 8, 2002
    Thanks for all this information. I just lost 6 chickens (one my only rooster) over the past week to a large, long-legged bird-dog. He flat jumped two fences, one electrified. Now I'm installing another electric fence. Another question: Can a 22 kill a big dog?
  10. thegriffiths

    thegriffiths Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2004
    Charleston, WV
    Thanks for all the replies. I am going to be installing all my fencing this weekend. Sure cant wait to get it all done and throw the switch.