With 30 years of experience building hundreds of miles of electric fences, I've seen just about every fencing mistake possible. And I continue to see people make many of the same common mistakes.With a little commitment and a modest investment in time to learn how to use this technology, you can save pounds and hours of maintenance time by making the electric fencing work for you. So you won't have to learn the hard way, here are common mistakes that you should avoid:

  • 1. Poor earth grounding. Many people still think you can skimp when it comes to adequate earth grounding. The electrical circuit goes along the ground to the earth rod so if the metal-to-earth contact is poor then there will be an ineficient circuit and not enough current will flow. What we must all learn to do, is install suitable earth posts or ground rods Copper or galvanised, 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.
  • 2. Inadequate Electric Fence Energiser. A wimpy fence charger gives you a wimpy fence. Don't skimp here because animals will think an Electric Fence is a joke without a strong bite, and they'll walk right through it. The fence itself does not keep the animal in – it is the electronic bite in the fence that does the work. 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.
  • 3. Inadequate animal training. Each and every animal must learn that the fence hurts. There are several methods to do this but two best are  flagging the fence for visibility or baiting the fence so he tests it with his nose or tongue. Baiting is very effective and only needs to be done if animals a not respecting a fence.
  • 4. Fence posts too close together. Posts may be anything up to 15 meters apart. Putting them 3 m apart is not necessary. Posts must follow the terrain and simply keep the wire at a uniform distance off the ground without too much sag. You want the 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 the wire will just bend to the ground and pop back up.
  • 5. Too many wire tie-offs. Again, fencing specifications may call for braces every quarter mile wire to tie the wire off. But I have found that even 5,000 feet is OK, and actually adds more elasticity in the fence wire. This reduces the chance of wires breaking.
  • 6. Wires tied tight to each fencepost. To maintain elasticity (the rubber band effect), wires must float past each line fencepost. Often tape is locked into insulators on every post to restrict wind flap but this then causes a lack of elasticity on the wire.
  • 7. Building new fences near old existing fences. Old fence wires seem to be always moving somewhere and coming in contact with the new electrified wires. This almost always causes a complete short in the fence, and away the animals go.
  • 8. Bottom wire in contact with heavy, wet vegetation. Wet grass will suck lots of juice out of any fence charger. Attach the lower wires to the live terminal of the energiser separately from the other wires, and install a switch for the lower wires that you can turn them off when the grass is tall.
  • 9. Poor-quality insulators. Be careful here. Sunlight deteriorates plastic. So buy good-quality, long-lasting insulators. Usually black ones are treated to resist degradation by ultraviolet light.  Cheap, poor quality insulators crack after a few years in direct sunlight.
  • 10. Solar panels not directly facing the sun. This seems almost too obvious to be a problem. But a solar panel won't function at its potential if not properly installed. Please read the instructions. Don't just guess if you have done it right.
  • 11. Kinks in high-tensile wire. A small kink in stiff wire will always break. Also avoid hitting this kind of wire with a hammer, as this will easily damage the wire causing a break. Always cut out a damaged section of high tensile wire and splice it. Incidentally, I have found that a hand-tied reef knot makes the strongest splice.
  • 12. Wires too close to each other. Keep them at least 5 inch apart.
  • 13. Wire stretched too tight. Electric Fences do not have to be tightly strained that a guitar solo may be played on them. Use inline-strainers that pull just enough to get the sag out of the wire between the fence posts and no more. Invariably pulling them up by hand is all that is required.
  • 14. No voltmeter. Without a voltage meter to check how hot a fence is, you're just guessing. The only other way is to use your hand – that hurts.
  • 15. Wire too small. The better the conductor in the wire, the more electricity it will carry. Don't skimp. Conductors are measured in Ohms per Meter – the lower this figure the better it is

The next time your bulls get in a fight with the neighbours bulls and tear down the entire fence, remember that most animals will learn not to touch a wire with 5,000 volts running thorough it.

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  • Trying to figure out an electric fence for the first time. I attached the wire mesh rods to mettle fence post and it isn’t sending out any electrical charge. I am also using a 6 ft. Grounding rod. Any suggestions?

  • Good day, we have an aluminium wire electrical fence, how long does the aluminium wire last and how do I know when the aluminium wire needs to be replaced?

  • I am using 20mm tape on horse fencing from a mains energiser and while being careful to hold only the plastic post to to make a slight adjustment to the fence I felt a mild tingling through the plastic- apart from being unpleasant is this normal?

  • I can’t figure this one out. I’ve fixed many shorts on my fence over the years, and I’m pretty good at the routine. I start at the fencer and just start following the amps. I can usually get the fence to where it’s only got 3-4 amps running through it, and that’s good enough to not drain the battery overnight. However, I can’t seem to find any shorts, and my tester is showing 10 amps coming off the lead out wire for the fencer.

    It seems that at each junction where one of my paddock dividing fences gets jumped from the main perimeter fence, there are about 1-2 amps splitting off. You add these up and pretty soon my battery is dry only a couple hours after sunset.

    I’ve been up and down each fence (about 250’ on each one), and can’t find any issues at all. I’ve read about induction, and how there is just always some degree of leakage, but I haven’t had this much trouble in the past. I also haven’t changed anything on the fence except insulators.

    Could it be that the brand of insulator that I’ve slowly been replacing all of my broken ones with is causing more leakage than normal?

  • Jeremy on June 02, 2021
    We have tried 5 different chargers, both solar and electric. We have lots of sand where we are. We put in 4 grounding rods, two are 10 ft and two are 8 ft. The chargers are ticking and all say they were working but we only get a zap if we are holding the wire along with anything else that’s metal, t-post, random wire wrapped around a wood post, ect. The fence tester only reads to 1000 volts. Any suggestions on what we may be doing wrong. We have walked the fence line several times and the wire is not grounded anywhere.


    Sand is a poor conductor of electricity due to the larger voids between the grains. When these a full of water after rain there will not be an issue BUT sand drains very quickly and the problem returns.
    The only way to cure this is to utilise a Dry Climate ence construction. This is described on this link, https://www.agrisellex.co.uk/pages/improve-your-fence . This involves alternate live and earth wires in the fence so the ground is taken out of the equation and is no longer important.

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