The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Electric fence problems

adapting electric fence plastic holders

Lucy is still making holes in the chicken pasture fence.


When I tested the electric fence line we installed today it seemed a little weak. I first thought we might be reaching the limit of distance, but the instructions say it should go up to 1500 feet.

I'm thinking I may have not tightened down the wing nut enough where the two wires attach. Either that or maybe the unit is suffering some sort of power decline?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've never seen someone combine charged fence wires with chicken wire fencing. I'd strongly suspect the charged fence is grounding out to the chicken wire in a few spots which is going to take a ton of the pop out of the fence.
Comment by Danny Thu Mar 8 17:25:49 2012
It's hard to tell from the photo, but Mark's not electrifying the chicken wire. He's adding insulators to the posts and running a strand of electric fence wire a couple of inches outside the chicken wire to shock Lucy when she tries to bust through.
Comment by anna Thu Mar 8 17:49:01 2012
How're you grounding the system? Check the ground if you haven't already done so. Are you using all of the yellow insulators like in the pictures?
Comment by Heath Thu Mar 8 18:05:16 2012
After the electic wire comes out of the insulator it looks like Mark is has it wrapped around the post, coming into contact with the chicken fencing, actually being used to keep the chicken wire in place. I helped put one of these up yesterday actually. I thought the wire shouldn't come into contact with anything that might ground it.
Comment by J Thu Mar 8 18:18:00 2012

J --- I thought the same thing from looking at the picture, but there are actually two separate wires that are several inches apart. The wire around the post connects the chicken wire to the post, while the wire going up from the insulator is a couple of inches in front of the post and is going to another strand of wire on more insulators circling back around to complete the circuit. (I should have been more careful with my photography, cleary!) You're totally right that it would be a very bad thing if the electric wire wrapped around the chicken wire, but luckily this isn't the case.

Heath --- These K9 units are supposed to be special in that you don't have to ground them. I don't entirely understand how that works, but that's what the instructions say. Yup, all yellow insulators.

Comment by anna Thu Mar 8 18:37:14 2012
When I first started using electric poultry netting I wasn't sure the shock was strong enough. Then I took my boot off, stepped on the ground barefoot, and touched the netting. ZAP! It was way worse. Good thing grey foxes don't wear boots.
Comment by Dave V Thu Mar 8 19:33:12 2012
How does Lucy react when she comes in contact with it? If I am not mistaken those types of fence are low output; it may be working properly.
Comment by Heath Fri Mar 9 08:43:07 2012

Dave --- Hopefully it's still enough to get Lucy's attention. It's less than it was previously, by Mark's tough-the-fence-and-swear meter. :-)

Heath --- I'm not sure if she's been bad enough to test it yet. But no new holes, which is a good sign.

Comment by anna Fri Mar 9 16:39:11 2012

Disconnect the energiser from the fence and test between the terminals. This will give you the output energy available. Anything under 6000v is a bit rubbish. If the energy drops when you've connected it back to the fence then the fence is the problem. This is a link to a step-by-step sequence to check a fence.

Comment by Paul Savory Mon Mar 12 03:21:56 2012
Paul --- These K9 fences actually work a bit differently than normal electric fences in that there's only one terminal. Presumably we could still test it, if we could ever hunt down our volt meter! :-)
Comment by anna Mon Mar 12 13:07:26 2012
OK, it is a direct discharge system, not sure how to test them but they seldom go over 1000v and sold on the "safety" label in gardens and homes etc. Personally think they are not much good for effective predator control as mammal flesh has a resistance of 500 ohms so even the slightest loss of power will result in the fence being ineffective.
Comment by Paul Savory Tue Mar 13 09:37:53 2012
We don't count on it to keep predators out, but have found the fence is just right for training Lucy. She definitely takes notice when her nose touches it (which is what we aim for), and gives that spot a wide berth for weeks (or months) afterward. We like the fact that the fence isn't so strong that it really hurts her, just gets her attention.
Comment by anna Tue Mar 13 10:33:08 2012
If the live wire is close to another wire there will be a transfer of energy EVEN if they are not touching. When a charge goes through the EF wire it creates a magnetic field around it that is transferred to the adjacent wire - called electrical induction. This page may explain it better.
Comment by Gerald Thompson Fri Nov 23 10:34:14 2012

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