November 09, 2013

Electric Fencing Tips

Electric Fencing Tips
An inexpensive solution to improve the bottom line.
By Wayne Burleson

With an extensive 30-year background of building and studying all kinds of animal fencing, I still say that high-tensile, smooth wire, electric fencing is the fastest and most affordable fence that I know of.

Fencing technology has drastically improved over the last 15 years, but breaking out of the old barbed wire fencing mode - lots of posts, several wires, and stretching the wire as tight as a fiddle string - gets people in trouble right away.

The challenge is, with the right fence design and constructed in the right location, coupled with good pasture management principles, a well-built electric fence will earn you money and not cost you money.

Increased pasture subdivisions can stockpile forage for extended wintertime grazing, save forage for early spring pastures, rest/rotate those hard hit areas, change livestock distribution to graze previously un-grazable areas, and stop animals from second biting plant regrowth that depletes root growth...and the list goes on.

Is it that much cheaper? A conventional barbed wire fence can cost up to $1.50-per-foot-plus labor and material.  A two-wire, permanent, smooth-wire electrical fence costs somewhere between 10 to 20 cents per foot depending on terrain. 

That's a huge savings. I know certain ranchers who hate electric fencing, but are learning to live with it, because with today's livestock prices they cannot afford to build conventional fences.

To successfully make the transition over to new fencing technology, you need a very good understanding of how effective electrical fencing works. First off, this kind of fence works only on the brain of the animal, that is, the remembering power of the shock they receive.

Don't think of this fence as a barrier, but as a psychological fence. 

In other words, you need to knock their socks off (so-to-speak) the very first time they touch a smooth wire. Then you have the reverse problem of pushing a barbed-wire fence and shying away from any smooth wire.

Make gates really big for hot fences -- like 30-feet-plus - because with narrow, 12-foot-gates a well-trained animal to a good electric fence will be reluctant to even get near the gate, much less walk right through it.

There are two ways an electric fence works.  All hot-wire system.  When your soils are deep and somewhat damp it produces a high conductive system to shock animals through  their feet.  The electrons must make a complete circuit to receive the maximum shock. The electricity passes from the wire, though the animal, out their feet, through the ground and back to the ground rods. If anything is weak in the circuit they will not get a controllable shock.

The advantage to having decent soils is you can actually get away with a single strand of wire that greatly reduces your fence-building cost. You run into problems with very dry, hard soils, or even frozen ground, as the electricity will not flow very well with these types of soils and produces a weak shock. 

The second kind of electric fence is a hot-ground system.  A ground wire or wires are strung along just under the hot wires.

Another great invention is the use of in-line fence strainers that put tension on each wire. I like to use the kind of in-line strainers that eliminate cutting the wire. You just slip this wheel device onto the slack fence wire and start winding up the wire with this wench, using a special in-line strainer tool. As you start to pull the wire up tight, watch the wire's slack between the line post.

When the wire pulls level, STOP, the wire tension is just right.  What's the matter with a tight fence? I once showed a rancher's fencing crew how to build a one-post fence corner and later I found out that the wood posts pulled out of the ground. Why? Well, you see, each year, some overenthusiastic, big-armed, tough cowboy, would come by and tighten the in-line strainer so tight that you could play "Home, Home on the Range" with the fence wire.  Over time, this would eventually pull any strong post right out of the ground.

You want the electric fence to act like a rubber band. When something runs into the wire, you don't want to break all the insulators or knock posts out of the ground. If the posts are spread apart far enough - 80- to 100-feet-plus - the wire will just bend to the ground and pop back up. 

Labor tips: -  I now use my hydraulic post driver to drive in all line posts, even the steel posts. It's fast, easy and saves me from backaches. 

I keep telling folks to try one wire, but boy is that a hard sell. I usually recommend cheapening up the fence by reducing the number of wires and let the shocking power of the electric fence do all the work.

Knock their socks off - This is where you don't go cheap, but buy the best, most powerful electric fence energizer you can afford, remembering that one day you may be shocking through a lot of tall, wet vegetation.

These fences only work on the shocking power to the animal's nervous system. It's not the number of wires or how tight the fence, it's the strong pain of shocking power that gives you control over the animals.

"A wimpy fence charger gives you a wimpy fence." Don't skimp here because this is where most fences fail. Build a strong, simple fence and hook it up to a great big fence charger.

Your fence charger should be low-impedance, come from a dependable supplier, and have a warranty and replaceable components. It's also handy to find sales folks with an extra charger they can lend to you while yours is being repaired. Expect some breakdowns, especially from lightning. Certain fence suppliers offer lightning protection with their warranties.

The number one problem with failed electrical fences is improper grounding. Lots of fencers, including myself, still think you can skimp when it comes to adequate earth grounding. What we must all learn to do, is install several ground rods, at least three, that are 6 to 8 feet long, galvanized, and attached with good ground clamps. The electricity must complete a full circle back to the charger through the ground. Poor grounding gives weak shocks. Think of the ground rods as radio antennas - the more reception, the better the shock.

The last fence job that I completed, I was out of conventional ground rods, so I looked in my junk pile, and pulled out a 3-inch, galvanized, 9-feet long, heavy walled pipe. My post driver reaches up nine feet, so I was able to drive this whole pipe deep into the ground. This made an excellent ground rod. Nifty, huh?

For the folks looking for the cheapest ground rods, the cheapest that I know about is to simply hook up the ground side of your fence energizer to an existing barbed wire fence that has steel posts in it.  I know that Canada has a shortage of steel "T' posts, but this grounding idea sure works well in the States.

Electric fences require less labor, are safer for wildlife, easier to build and maintain and cost much less than conventional fences.  The weakest link in using this technology is learning a different method of animal control. These fences are psychological fences, they work on the remembering power of the animal's brain and are not barrier fences.

Your fence charger should be low-impedance, come from a dependable supplier, and have a warranty and replaceable components. Please buy one that puts out lots of power. During a rainy year, you may have lots of plant growth touching the wires. That's when you will need extra power to shock through the heavy, wet vegetation.

Don't be afraid to try electric smooth wire fencing. Find a good fence supplier and learn some of the tricks of the trade. I know folks who hate electric fencing, but their pocketbook is not big enough to build a conventional fence, which may cost up to $1 per foot or more while an electric fence costs less than one-half to one-third of that.

The next time your animals get in a fight with the neighbor's bull and tear down a fence line, remember that most educated livestock will not touch a wire, the second time, with 5,000 volts running through it.

Please order online 24/7 or call VALLEY FARM SUPPLY at  717-786-0368

November 09, 2013

FAQ on Electric Fences, Grounding, Energizers & More

 we receive many electric fences questions, such as “how do they work" and “what parts do I need for my fence.” We’ve listed a few of the most frequently asked questions to help you answer your questions.

Check our our list of frequently asked questions below. If you have more questions about the usage of electric fence equipment and/or components, please feel free to contact us.

  1. How does an electric fence work?
  2. How does a ground work?
  3. How important is the grounding system?
  4. How many grounding rods do I need to make my fence work? How do I install them?
  5. How do I select the correct sized energizer?
  6. What are volts, amps and joules?
  7. What does low impedance mean?

1. How does an electric fence work?
An electric fence is simply a large open circuit waiting to be closed. The electric fence energizer or charger sends a high voltage pulse of electric energy through the wire, tape or rope at short intervals, usually between one and two seconds. The circuit is closed when an animal, which is standing on the ground, touches the fence. The electric energy in the fence wire flows from the fence, through the animal's body and to the ground causing the animal to be shocked. The animal will only respect the shock if both the voltage and energy are at proper levels. Environmental, fence and ground conditions influence the level of shock received. It takes a minimum of 700 volts to effectively control short haired breeds of cattle, pigs and horses while it takes about 2,000 volts for long haired cattle, sheep and goats. Depending on the type and breed of animal, it may take multiple shocks from an electric cattle fence before they are fully trained to have respect for the electric fence.

2. How does a ground work?
Upon leaving the electric fence energizer, the electric current travels along the wires and connections of the solar electric fence. It is seeking all possible routes back to Earth. These routes include animals, people grass etc. When an animal comes in contact with the wire on a livestock electric fence, the energy passes through its body and returns to the ground causing an electric shock.

3. How important is the grounding system?
The grounding system is a vital part of the system enabling the correct return of electrical pulses (from the electric fence energizer) through the animal from the contact point on the fence to the ground. Without a sufficient ground, the electric fence will be limited in effectiveness of providing a "shock".


4. How many grounding rods do I need to make my fence work? How do I install them?
Grounding rods should be at least 6 feet long. Even though one grounding rod may work, it is recommended for best results to use 3 rods spaced 10-12 feet apart. The first rod should be within 25-50 feet from the energizer and driven down deep into the earth. The larger your fence, the more grounding rods you should have since more grounding rods increase the shock potential. Connect the rods together and then connect them to the energizer ground terminal using highly conductive wire (the wire should be a minimum of 12.5 ga in diameter). Water the ground after installation and during dry spells if necessary.

5. How do I select the correct sized energizer?
The energizer must deliver sufficient shock in proportion to the requirements placed on it. The power output should be selected based on the following calculations. Location of electric fence energizer (access to A/C power), type of animals, length of the above-ground or underground electric fence, number for strands of wire, conductivity of wire, vegetation present on the fence and soil conditions for grounding.

6. What are volts, amps and joules?
Volts or voltage is the driving force behind the flow of electricity in a wire. It is often related to the pressure water has in a pipe. The more pressure pushing water through a pipe is analogous to the voltage pushing energy through a conductor.

Amps or amperage is the measurement of electrical current through a wire. It is the current or amps that determine the strength of the shock felt from a permanent or temporary electric fence. The higher the amps of current, the higher the strength of the shock. Continuing the water pipe analogy, amps is roughly like the flowrate of water coming out of the end of the pipe.

A joule (pronounced jewel) is a unit of work or energy. It is the energy expended in one second by a current of one amp at a potential of one volt. One joule is equal to one watt of power in one second.

7. What does low impedance mean?
Energizers that are low impedance energizers have the ability to regulate their output and maintain a constant voltage supply to the fence even as the grounding and fence conditions deteriorate as well as increased vegetation contact. This means as more vegetation draws amperage from the electric fence (short circuiting or grounding the fence), a low impedance energizer will produce more energy or joules to overcome this loss due to plants while maintaining adequate levels for animal control.

Please order online 24/7 or call VALLEY FARM SUPPLY at  717-786-0368

November 09, 2013

Buy a new Gallagher Smartfix Fence Tester / Fault Finder for only $99 and receive Free USA Shipping to your door!!


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Buy a new Gallagher Smartfix Fence Tester / Fault Finder for only $99 and receive Free USA Shipping to your door!!

Now is the time to check your electric fence for proper working conditions for winter. The Gallagher Smartfix will be the best tool on your farm this Fall.ORDER YOUR SMARTFIX HERE!
When used as a DVM: can be used to measure voltage on all energizer types, measures up to 15KV; use without earth lead for everyday fence voltage reading (earth lead will give more precise readings, particularly for measuring earth voltage.); retractable probe allows easy access to energizer terminals, cut-out switches and other difficult to reach areas. When used as a Current Meter: large arrows makes for easy fault finding by showing direction of fault; digital display of current (A) makes for easy detection of faults; bar graph indicating voltage while in current meter mode; cordless operation.

Limited Time Offer!

Gallagher Smartfix for only $99 and Free USA Shipping!!!

Simply order from our new improved web site, , or click the link below.ORDER HERE NOW

Copyright © 2013 Valley Farm Supply, All rights reserved.

November 09, 2013

What electric fence system is right for you?

If this is your first fence project we recommend you follow three simple steps so you understand your options and can better plan your fence. A well-thought out plan in advance will help you avoid problems later, and assure that your electric fence works as you want it to.

Electric Fence Planning Overview
Before building your electric fence you'll need to take into account many factors including the climate and terrain, the animals you need to fence in - or out, and many other factors. You need to know:

What type of animal(s) do you want to control?
The animal being controlled will largely determine the type of electric fence you need. The animal's hooves, thickness and length of coat, height, jumping ability and many other factors impact your fence selection.

In general, animals with thick, shaggy coats require a more powerful controller than animals with shorter coats and thin hides. Electricity relies on conductivity to deliver a shock, and heavy coats act as an insulator.

One of the conductive wires should be placed at the animal's nose level. The strands need to be spaced so the animal cannot push its head through any two wires without receiving a shock. You may need low or high wires to prevent animals from digging under or jumping over fences.

Do you want to contain or keep out the animal(s)?
A short, safe pulse of electricity creates a psychological barrier that trains most animals to avoid the fence. However, predators, bulls, and other aggressive animals are more apt to challenge the fence, requiring a more powerful fence controller.

What type of electric fence do you need?
We group electric fences into four categories: (1) portable or temporary, (2) semi-permanent or permanent, (3) permanent high tensile, and (4) the Horse Sense Electric Fence System.

Temporary electric fence systems can also be easily moved by using a battery or solar fence controller; poly step-in posts or steel or fiberglass rods; poly wire, tape or rope; and other lightweight components. Temporary fences typically run for short distances, are affordable, are quick and easy to install.

Semi-permanent or permanent electric fences consist of a combination of either wood posts, T-posts, U-posts or rod posts using any type of wire, tape or rope. Installation is easy to moderate, depending on the terrain and the animal being contained or excluded. Often used for pastures and cross fencing, this category of fence will last up to 20 years.

Permanent high tensile electric fences use well-anchored wood posts to support steel wire under high tension. While more time-consuming to install than other electric fence systems, it is the most effective permanent perimeter fence and provides the highest level of security for keeping out or containing difficult or aggressive animals, such as bulls or predators. A well-built high tensile electric fence requires minimal maintenance and will last up to 40 years.

The Horse Sense Electric Fence System® , designed specifically for equine use, emphasizes the horse's safety as well as containment. The system uses white, flexible poly tape or poly rope to make it easy for the horse to see the fence. White vinyl sleeves and caps that cover wood and t-posts protect the horses from injury and complete the classic white-rail appearance. The fence will typically last from 5 to 15 years.

Why is electric fencing a cost effective option?
Electric fencing typically costs less than traditional barbed and woven wire fencing. In addition, animals are less apt to damage a fence, as they usually don't touch an electrified wire more than once. Choosing and installing high-quality components will pay dividends later with fewer maintenance problems and longer fence life.

A more powerful fence controller may cost a bit more, but will save you time and money in the long run. The higher-powered low impedance fencers increase energy on the fence line as weeds touch it, minimizing the need to remove vegetation. It also gives you greater flexibility to add to, or reconfigure, your fence at a later date.

Consider your investment in your livestock, horses and/or pets. You want to protect them with quality electric fence components that will do the job and keep them safe.


Permanent High Tensile Horse-Sense Electric Fence System ®
Expected Fence Life Short term, frequent moves 1-20 years 20-40 years 5-15 years
Ease of Installation Simple, fast Easy to moderate Moderate, special tools required Moderate
Animals Controlled Cows, horses, pets, lawn and garden pests Cows, horses, hogs, sheep, goats, exotics, deer predators Cows, hogs, sheep, goats, exotics, deer, predators Horses
Best suited for Temporary fencing, managed intensive grazing Pastures, cross fences Permanent perimeter installations High visibility, horse pasture
Post type Step-in posts, steel and rod posts, fiberglass posts T-posts, rod-posts, U-posts Wood posts, T-posts, U-posts Wood posts, T-posts, U-posts
Wire type Poly wire, poly tape, poly rope Poly wire, poly tape, poly rope, steel wire 12 1/2 gauge high-tensile wire Poly tape, poly wire, poly rope
Lightweight, reusable, easy to move
Workable with any configuration of posts and conductive wire
Longest life fence system available, minimal maintenance
Use with vinyl post sleeves for attractive, white-rail look, afordable

Please order online 24/7 or call VALLEY FARM SUPPLY at  717-786-0368

November 07, 2013

International Crane Foundation Foils Predators With Electric Fences



Cranes rely on open freshwater wetlands for survival during most of their lifecycle. The loss and degradation of these kinds of habitats are among the most pressing threats to the survival of these huge birds.  Another threat, of course, is the ever-present danger of predators such as raccoons and mink.


The International Crane Foundation, founded in 1973, operates a 25 acre compound north of Baraboo, Wisconsin devoted to protecting this endangered species which are “the largest and oldest flying birds in the world,” according to ICF spokesman Dave Chesky.


About 20 acres are fenced and netted to protect the birds.  Chesky says the site is home for over 120 cranes including every species.  “We’re the only place that has all of them – whooping cranes, sandhill cranes, Siberian cranes – all 15 species.”


Most of the birds are part of a protected, captive flock; permanent, non-migratory cranes held in place by and overhead netting that keeps them from flying away.  The perimeter fence that shields them from predators is an ingenious masterpiece of engineering created to keep some wily animals from gaining access to the rare birds.


Chesky described the protective perimeter this way: “To keep burrowing animals out, we’ve got a two-foot wide wire mesh buried two inches underground in front of the fence.  The fence is eight feet tall with the first four feet made of one inch mesh chain link fencing. Over the years, we’ve learned to size it slightly smaller than a mink’s skull to prevent them from entering the area.”


The top four feet is a Gallagher supplied electric fence powered by B-260 chargers.  “The chargers have proven very reliable,” said Chesky.  “We just had one that was about 20 years old rebuilt by the factory and reinstalled it.  It works perfectly.”


Wires are set just one inch apart at the bottom of this powered section and spaced wider at the top.  The fence has ended the foundation’s losses to predators.  “We haven’t lost a bird since it was installed,” said Chesky.


 “An electric fence is a psychological barrier that keeps animals where they should be with safety and security.  Because the fence is a psychological barrier, it doesn’t require great strength to be effective. However, it must be well designed in accordance with the species to be controlled.”


The company is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electric fences designed to contain cattle, horses and other farm animals as well as prevent wild animals and predators from gaining access to areas where they can do economic damage.

Please order online 24/7 or call VALLEY FARM SUPPLY at  717-786-0368

November 07, 2013

Gallagher and Cow Sense Announce New Automation Interface

Gallagher and Midwest MicroSystems L.L.C. announced today additional automation compatibility between Midwest’s Cow Sense® herd management software and the Gallagher 700 indicator. These features offer tremendous benefits to Gallagher customers who are also Cow Sense users. These individuals can now use their Gallagher 700 indicator to record data in the field and then download directly into their Cow Sense herd file.


“This new capability is inline with our ‘Smart Technology Made Simple’ theme,” says Todd Mach, Products Manager for Gallagher USA of North Kansas City, Missouri. “We have had a good working relationship with the people at Cow Sense. Through that relationship we realized that we are both working toward the same goal of simplifying record keeping for today’s progressive producers,” explains Mach. “It just made sense that we raise the bar to the next level and deliver a product to our joint customers that would further simplify their data collection needs, be durable enough to stand up to inclement weather and working conditions, as well as automate the process of delivering data between our two systems. You can use the Gallagher 700 indicator for any type of data collection and you don’t have to use it with loadbars. Just collect data with it!” Mach continued. “In addition to weight, the Gallagher 700 is compatible with RFID readers to record the EID with the animal’s visual  identification or tag number. Furthermore the 700 has customizable features to collect additional information on a particular animal’s record. Our customers can configure this indicator to provide fields to capture additional data such as calving, weaning, or yearling information in what we term ‘Trait Tables’. The developers at Cow Sense created standardized trait tables that can be loaded on our 700 indicator and deliver the information back to Cow Sense in a common language, streamlining and simplifying the process for a producer-user to load into their Cow Sense herd” concludes Mach.


“Data entry is often the biggest hurdle to successful record keeping. Tools like the Gallagher 700 that simplify data collection and automate data exchange are a great asset to producers” adds Tim Davis, Vice President of Midwest Microsystems, developers of Cow Sense herd management software. “We have long had automated systems for delivering weight data from the Gallagher Scale indicators and RFID readers into Cow Sense on a chute-side computer. The preformatted ‘Cow Sense Trait Tables’ provide a convenient means of capturing data in the Gallagher 700, then upon return to the home or office computer import it to Cow Sense with a few mouse clicks.


The Cow Sense Trait Forms allow users to capture critical data points tied to events including: adding cow, bull and calf records to a herd or updating existing records with birth, weaning, yearling, breeding or preg check data. The built-in checks and balances in the verification process help to make sure all the necessary data has been entered before the data is added to records in Cow Sense With the data successfully stored in Cow Sense, you can immediately begin to use the powerful analysis and reporting features for management decisions”.


Both Cow Sense and the Gallagher 700 interface with electronic RFID tags and readers. This allows the user to key in the animals visual ID tag or identification and scan the EID. Once this information has been downloaded into Cow Sense those two numbers are linked. Once the animals EID is in Cow Sense, the user only has to scan the EID when collecting subsequent data. When the additional data is downloaded Cow Sense adds it to the animal record linking to that EID number.


“No two ranches or farms are the same, and their data collection needs are no exception. We strive to provide our customers with simple solutions from which they can choose to meet their record keeping needs,” added Davis. “We emphasize to our customers not to let any software dictate their management, but allow their management to dictate how they use the software. The Cow Sense Trait Forms are an example of that solutions simplified focus. Our joint customers of Cow Sense and Gallagher are the beneficiaries.”



About Cow Sense® herd management software

Cow Sense Software is the flagship product of Midwest Microsystems L.L.C. The company deploys superior quality, integrated information management systems in the global market. Cow Sense is a prime example, as it was the first Windows based commercially produced and sold software on the market in 1994. Today Cow Sense has evolved into a suite of products with the original herd management software at the core. Advanced technology, flexibility, functionality for user customization yet Cowboy friendly features have made Cow Sense the dominant herd management program on the market.


About Gallagher

Gallagher’s global Research and Product Development department employs 70- people, including 18 engineers, and owns more than 100 international patents. This has enabled Gallagher to develop state-of-the-art products to meet the present and future needs of livestock producers and consumers.

Please order online 24/7 or call VALLEY FARM SUPPLYat  717-786-0368

November 06, 2013

Don’t have time to waste? Get the i Series!

Dairy farmers are so short on time, the last thing you want to do is muck around trying to find faults — particularly if it’s right on milking time. Of course, you can’t leave a fence not working properly, but neither can you put off milking! But how much time will it take to find the fault?
Or, you might be out on the tractor, about to cut silage, and notice some cows where they shouldn’t be. (Or your neighbour calls to tell you they have “visitors”.) Again, you really should be doing something else, so how long will it take to find the fault?
With the i Series? Not long!
The beauty about the i Series is that it’s a monitored energizer, that will basically tell you where the fault is.
Here’s how to do it
Set up your controller somewhere you walk past often — I’ve commonly seen them in milking sheds or at the back door. Then put the monitors out on the fence, spread over the farm — it’s very handy to have one at the furthest point of your property. If there’s a short, it will light up on the controller, pinpointed by the monitor closest to the short. So instead of driving over your whole farm, you can go straight to the fault. No mucking around.
And when you get there, just turn off the fence with the remote — that’s another fantastic innovation Gallagher has developed. This saves you even more time, because you don’t need to go all the way back to the shed to turn off the power (or hope the worker you asked to do it actually did!).
Texting faults
You can even set it up so the i Series Energizer sends you a text message if there’s a fault. And… if you lose your remote, you can use your phone to do it.
Keeping the bulls under control
If you’re breeding your own heifers, it’s especially important to control when the bull is in with the cows. The last thing you want to see is that he’s found them himself.
Again here, the i Series fits dairy farming to a “t”. Because the fence is monitored, you will know the moment there’s a problem with the bull paddock fencing. And you can fix it immediately. End of problem.

Hot tips:
• dairy farming is all about time management: the i Series saves you time (and time is money)
• monitors pinpoint faults on the fence, so they’re quick and easy to find (no driving everywhere)
• save more time by turning off the fence with the remote (don’t have to go all the way back to the shed)
• put a farm diagram of where fence monitors are to save even more time (no asking, “where’s monitor 2 again?”)
• put the controller somewhere close — like the milking shed, or back door
• the i Series Energizer can send you a text message if there’s a fault
• if you lose your remote, you can use your phone to turn off the fence
• comes into its own in monitoring bull-paddock fencing (vital when breeding your own heifers)

November 06, 2013


GALLAGHER UNVEILS A NEW LINE OF FENCE CHARGERS Electric fence technology is taking another giant step forward with the launch of Gallagher’s i Series Fence Energizer Systems in North America. Featuring advanced fence monitoring technology, the i Series Energizers are another world-first for Gallagher and highlight ongoing commitment to solve the daily challenges of producers.“These Energizers deliver so much more information into the hands of the producer. It’s like having six people out on your farm constantly measuring the current and voltage of your fence and reporting the information back to you," said Gallagher spokesperson Mark Harris. Available in three models - M1200i, M1800i and M2800i - these new 110V Energizers are yet another example of Gallagher’s technology that is both practical and innovative. Each model comes with an Energizer Controller that enables the user to monitor the condition of the fence and performance of the Energizer. This controller can be used to turn the Energizer on or off, set alarm thresholds, and make adjustments to the target output voltage. The ability to locate the controller away from the Energizer – up to 160’ away, is a major bonus. Fence chargers are often hidden away in the back of a shed where they are not easily monitored and this can lead to uncertainty about whether saved pastures are safe or one stock class is being kept away from another. But a key advantage of an i Series Energizer is that the controller can be positioned in a separate more conveniently-accessed location where it is easy to view. Incorporating high efficiency components that deliver outstanding performance and livestock control, i Series Fence Energizers make it easy for producers to find and fix faults quickly and efficiently. Fence monitors compatible with the M1800i and M2800i units can be placed in strategic locations along the fence line, dividing a fence system into zones to make it quicker and easier to locate a fence fault. To improve functionality even further, i Series Energizers will soon have a large range of optional features, including an SMS Energizer Controller module that enables fence performance to be monitored and controlled from anywhere with cell coverage. This means if a serious problem with a fence is detected; the producer is notified immediately via a text message to their Smartphone. The ability to control the M1800i & M2800i Energizer remotely with a Remote and Fault Finder means producers don’t have to waste time returning to the Energizer to turn it on or off when they want to fix a fault. If you are at the back of your property fixing a fault, the last thing you want to do is drive all the way to the front of the farm just to turn the Energizer off. The i Series Energizers will give producers peace of mind that their fences are being constantly monitored for optimal performance. As well as ensuring consistent and high quality fence performance, the new Energizers will also have applications for property security. When connected to the optional alarm controller and SMS accessory products, if someone opens up an electrified gate or section of fence, the system will notify you straight away, even if you are away from your property. The i Series Energizers give producers confidence in the performance of their electric fencing systems. Good electric fencing is critical to the successful operation of any operation, so the whole aim of i Series Fence Energizer Systems is to give producers the assurance that their fences are doing the job they were put there to do. - See more at:

November 05, 2013

The new Gallagher I series of electric fence energizers

November 05, 2013

Electric fence in agriculture

Traditionally, usage of land has been demarcated by fences - often in combination with geographical features such as rivers and impassable rocky outcrops, or other prominent land marks such as drystone walls and tree lines. Fences are also associated with land use and livestock management - either precluding access by livestock to cultivated crops or improving utilization of veld and pastures.

Until relatively recently all farm fences were of barbed wire, supported by iron standards and droppers, between substantial straining posts. Fences of this kind are both a physical and psychological barrier to livestock and intruders. A major drawback of "conventional" fencing of this type is the expense involved: the cost in April 2000 for a 'standard' 5 strand barbed wire fence was R4 033 per kilometre.

Recent advances in (electronic) technology have ensured that electric fences now offer a viable option to barbed wire fences in most situations - with the added advantages of adaptability and significantly improved cost effectiveness.

Principle of electric fencing

Electric fencing is based on a simple principle: Energisers have two terminals, demarcated "Fence" and "Earth/Ground." A thin, insulated wire is charged with electric energy from the "Fence" terminal. A second, thin wire is connected to an earth. Whoever/whatever closes the circuit between the two terminals receives a substantial, safe (low amperage/high voltage) electric shock.

Equipment and construction

The "heart" of the electric fence is the energiser. Most modern energisers generate approximately 5 000 volts. The ability to sustain this charge depends on the capacity (measured in joules) of the energiser. Small energisers (1.0 joule) are adequate for powering small networks (15 km) of fencing and strip grazing applications. Large energisers (20 joules) will power networks of up to 175 km under normal conditions. The most effective energisers require either a 12 or 24 volt wet-cell (tractor type) battery, or A/C mains as power source. Specialised power sources such as solar or dry-cell (torch) battery models are less common.

Careful selection of an appropriate energiser is essential. Consideration should be given to the purpose of the network (security and/or grazing management), the size of the network, the type of threat/animal to be controlled, the ease of maintenance of the energiser, and the proven service record and reliability of the supplier.

Insulator quality is of paramount importance in electric fencing. The purpose of insulators is to ensure that the full amount of energy discharged into the wire is channelled through the intruder/animal when the circuit is closed. Insulators manufactured from fibreglass-type compounds, treated with fire-retardants and ultraviolet radiation stabilizers during the manufacturing process are the most reliable and cost effective (some are still performing perfectly after 20 years of continuous use). High density polyethylene insulators tend to fail when subjected to fire, and become brittle after a number of years' exposure to sunlight. Porcelain insulators are highly susceptible to physical vandalism. Used and discarded plastic water piping and/or rubber inner tubes are not at all suited as insulators.


The "earth" section of the circuit is as important as the "live" or "insulated" section. Furthermore, the larger the output capacity of the energiser, the larger the surface area of the earth-pegs required. Ideally, earth-pegs should be sited in areas which remain permanently moist (for example in close proximity to a gutter down-pipe, down-slope from a drain, near a small stream or natural spring). A single earth-peg made of 20 mm galvanised water-pipe driven vertically into moist soil to a depth of one metre is adequate for a small energiser (1.0 joule output capacity). At least 20 such earth pegs used in a similar manner are necessary for a large (20 joule output) energiser. Clearly, all earth pegs must be interconnected with each other and the earth terminal of the energiser. Stainless steel or copper piping ensures even better earthing. With regard to the actual fencing used, fully galvanised baling wire (2.5 mm diameter) is the most practical for temporary (6 months or less) and semi-permanent (less than 2 years) use. High-strain, steel wire (2.0 x 2.6 mm) is recommended for permanent use (2 to 10 years). Purpose-made nylon wire, braided with 6 strands of stainless steel wire, is recommended for strip-grazing purposes, or those occasions where a network will be used for 3 - 4 weeks at a time and then removed. It should be noted that different soil types have different (electric) conductivities. This has a direct bearing on the fencing configuration used in any situation.

On heavy, damp, clays (and areas under irrigation) all wires in the fence should be "live". In dry areas, on sandy soils, or in areas where the soil surface is covered by dry, non-conductive material, wires should be alternatively "live" and "earth".

When constructing the fence the following basic principles should be adhered to:

  1. Fence strands should at all times be parallel to the soil surface and to each other.
  1. The distance between strands should be such that the animal/intruder chooses to retire from, rather than proceed through, the fence once shocked.
  1. Fence voltage should be maintained above 3 000 volts for wooled sheep, 2 000 volts for cattle and goats and 1 500 volts for thin skinned animals such as horses and pigs.

The fence standards on relatively flat topography can be as far apart as 50 metres with droppers in-between at 15 metre intervals. For control of domestic livestock (cattle, calves, sheep, goats (and even dogs!)) it is seldom necessary to have a fence taller than 900 mm above the ground. Security and game fences should be 2 000 mm tall. Ideal strand spacings within the fence are shown in the Table.

Problems and fault-finding

Problems with electric fencing do occur. However, if good fencing principles and techniques are followed when the fence is constructed, these problems can be minimized. The most common faults include:

  1. Voltage "leakages" arising from:
  1. Dead shorts - as a result of a direct connection to ground/earth

  2. Vegetation - high volume of actively growing, lush vegetation contacting live wires

  3. Cracked or weathered insulators giving rise to cumulative leakage

  1. Poor earth system:

  1. Inadequate surface area of earth peg(s)

  2. Drying of soil around the earth peg(s)

  3. Loose or corroded connections to the earth section of the network.

  1. Loose or corroded connections in the "fence" section of the network. The use of "reef" knots or "figure eight" knots (in preference to double loops) and use of galvanised line clamps reduce the incidence of these possibilities.

  1. Faulty energisers - a problem which may occur after electric storms and lightening strikes on the fence.

A number of desirable and useful accessories are available for use in electric fencing. However, four items are deemed to be essential. These are a digital volt meter (for accurate measurement of fence performance), cut out switches, a lightening diverter and an alarm linked to a warning mechanism (siren, buzzer or flashing light). The alarm should be placed on the end of the fence furthest away from the energiser and is used to warn the operator when the output of the fence between the energiser and end of the fence drops below a predetermined level. In the event of a voltage drop (reasons may include a cut fence; fence 'shorted out' by an animal/tree branch/intruder; vegetative material causing leakage) voltage readings can be taken and the cause identified. Cut out switches significantly reduce the amount of "down-time" lost in tracing and rectifying faults. These switches are placed at strategic points in the network and are used to isolate individual sections when fault-finding.


Electric fencing presents a viable option to conventional barbed wire or prefabricated fencing. Provided it is properly constructed and well maintained, it is more adaptable, convenient and cost effective than conventional fencing.


Strand spacings for electric fences

Cattle and calves 3 strands 290; 600 and 900 mm above ground
Sheep and lambs
(even topography)
4 strands 150; 335; 600 and 900 mm above ground
Sheep, lambs
(uneven topography)
4 strands 150; 290; 900 mm above ground
Pigs 3 strands 150; 335; 600 mm above ground
* Security and Game 14 strands with 1 off-set 150 mm above ground and 150 mm between successive strands
Off-set support on "top" and "3rd from top" strand

* Note that for use in security applications all strands of similar charge (polarity) are connected in "series" and not: parallel" as is the case with grazing control fences.

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