February 27, 2017

Understanding electric cross fencing with strategic fencing has many benefits

Electric cross fences can be portable or permanent. Cost and ease of electric fence installation are factors to consider. Permanent posts and heavy steel woven wire can be expensive. A portable electric fence that is strung with a wire or two may be a better option.

Talk to any landowner and you’ll probably get an earful about fences. There is no perfect fencing that will fit everyone, especially when livestock and pasture needs change over time. However, cross electric fences provide pasture management flexibility. They’re installed inside a perimeter fence to divide an area.

Bruce Anderson is an extension forage specialist at the University of Nebraska. He says cross electric fencing comes in handy for many reasons, including separating animals, rotating pasture, and keeping livestock out of soggy areas. The type of fencing to use varies.

"If we have smaller animals, like sheep or pigs, or even chickens, we may use a fence that has a smaller potential opening for animals to get through and keeps them under much better control," says Anderson. "Compared to when we have things like cows or horses, that might be able to get by with just one little wire to be able to more psychologically control them than to physically hold them back."


Maintaining a cross electric fence can be a challenge if you have to fight barriers such as trees or a creek. Anderson says a concern for a lot of people is how to provide resources in each area.

"So it may not just be simply dividing up the pasture, we may have to do some development of how we're going to get water to those animals, either through some new wells, some moveable tanks, some ponds, even hauling periodically if that is what is needed," says Anderson. "That's probably our biggest downside to it."

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