Below you can learn our very inexpensive way how to build an electric fence for animal management.
We have been using the sun to power our hot wire fence on our own property, implementing pasture rotation with our small stock of White Dorper sheep.
I was going to put up an old photo of Graeme carrying a car battery to connect our old fence energiser, but I thought I’d save you the agro!
But seriously, we teach and preach simple living ideas and permaculture and the last thing we want to do is carry a charged battery around the paddock.
This is the answer...
A compact and efficient solar fence charger that will electrify a hot wire fence up to 3 km's long, more than enough for your average small acreage.
Here's How Easy it is to Set Up...
CORRECTION: Once charged, this solar electric fence energizer will work 3 WEEKS without sun, not 3 days as stated by Graeme in this video.
For more information about this fence charger or to buy with great service click here. We ship worldwide!
If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
What can you use this energiser for?
Here’s our many various uses for installing an electric fence on our small farm:
1. While we were building our straw bale house, we grazed the sheep (using our home made movable fence poles – see below) around the site to keep the grass down (this saved Graeme pushing the mower).
2. Meg was busy planting a 1000 or so trees around the boundary fence and she used our movable fence in and out of the trees to graze the sheep close as she could until the trees got bigger than the sheep (this saved Graeme the brush cutter and more work).
3. We were too busy building to get all the main fences up so we made temporary paddocks using 2x 1000meter rolls of electric fence wire and lots of home made (as cheap as) fence poles.
4. All the small paddocks the electric fence instantly made possible has allowed rotational grazing and thus better pasture utilization.
How to Build an Electric Fence You Can Move Around
We found a very cheap and effective way to build a temporary electric fence for animal control around our property.
Graeme displays a finished electric fence stay,
fitted with insulators and ready to use.
And with our new solar fence charger, it is all powered by the sun.
No more lugging a heavy battery around the farm, or worrying if it has gone flat or not!
How to make movable fence stays for less than $1.50 each
To build stays for an electric fence you can move around:
1. Buy 6mm galvanized steel rods. It comes in 6 m lengths.
2. Cut into 6 x 1 m lengths using a hacksaw, or an angle grinder with a 1mm cut-off blade.
3. Fit each with 2 insulators (for how, see below).
What type of insulator we used:
We used these steel post insulators, which come in bags of 25.
Five bags (125 insulators) cost us $35AU and was enough for 240 meters of double strand hot wire fence.
Fitting the insulator
We secured the insulators to each post by pushing them onto the post then using a 2 “ coach bolt and nut to clamp the insulator around the post.
A finished insulator
That’s how to build an electric fence for animal management, the cheap and easy way!
Now we look at installing an electric fence like this, and how to connect it to the solar fence charger.
Installing an Electric Fence You Can Move Around ...The Easy Way
This hot wire fence is very simple to erect, making pasture rotation a breeze.
1. Mark the depth
Using a permanent marking pen, mark the depth you plan to tap to onto the post approximately 20cm to give 80cm above ground).
2. Tap in the posts
Tap the stays into the ground using a standard hammer.
We spaced the posts about 4 m apart.
The best part of this easy to use portable fence, is that you can make as, since they’re so cheap, you can make as many stakes as you like.
So you can even have the tape going around trees allowing the stock to graze quite close to the trees. This has worked very well for us.
We are busy planting new trees, but also need to graze down the grass as close as possible to the trees, so we hammer the stakes in the ground on an angle with the bottom of the stake close to the new tree (20cm) then leaning out on an angle at the top away from the tree.
This keeps the sheep a good distance away from the green parts of the tree while letting them eat the grass within 20-30cm from the stem.
3. Fit the Hot Tape
Fit the Hot Tape into the insulators to make a 2-strand fence. It comes in 200 m rolls which cost us $25 a roll.
4. Clear vegetation
Remove any weeds or branches from touching the fence.
5. Earth the fence
Before fitting your solar fence charger, it is paramount that you first earth the fence.
Otherwise, you can’t expect it to work properly!
This is the most important part of installing an electric fence!
Use a 1 meter length of 10mm or 12mm Rebar Galvanised.
Your electric fence is only as good as the earth connection you make for it! If you have a bad earth, the animals might only get a mild shock or nothing at all on a dry day.
Hammer this into the ground by the solar fence charger leaving about 20cm or so out of the ground.
6. Fit the solar fence charger
When you are happy with the earth, connect the black terminal of the solar electric fence energizer to the earth peg with a wire no longer than 1 meter.
Then connect the red terminal from the solar fence charger to the wire or tape fence.
Switch on the charger and you will see the indicator light start to flash, indicating it is charged and operating.
If the light is weak or not flashing at all, turn off the energizer and leave in the sun for a day.
Try to aim the solar panel on top of the solar fence charger toward the sky where the brightest sun would be during the day (i.e. to the south if you live in the northern hemisphere, or the north if you live in the southern hemisphere).
Using Your Electric Fence for Animal Management
What sort of animals can be controlled by a hot wire fence?
• An electric fence like the one we have demonstrated here is most suited to the temporary grazing of sheep or pigs.
• A five or six strand electric fence will control all types of domestic livestock, from sheep and pigs to cattle and horses, at about half the cost of woven wire fences.
All wires are normally charged, but under very dry, very frozen, or very sandy conditions, the second and fourth strands may need to be earthed separately.
• You can also use an electric tape strung along existing non-electric fences to stop larger stock such as cattle from leaning on and either further damaging or breaching the fence.
• Electric tape strung along the top of a low fence will also deter dogs and foxes from climbing over it; tape fixed near the ground can also be used to deter predators from climbing through or under a fence.
How to train animals to respect the fence
For a temporary, movable electric fence like that shown here:
We have found from experience that the best time to train the animals to respect the fence is during or after a wet day.
This is the time when the animals are wet and they have a better connection to the electric earth through their feet.
It does not take much of a shock for the animals to stay away from the fence from then on, in fact after all our sheep have had a shock, we can turn off of fence for a few days or weeks because we know they won’t go near it again.
If you have naturally quiet livestock, then training is very easy. Just set up your electrically fenced paddock, and let them in.
Keep a close eye on them for a few days. If any get through the fence, then just push them back through it into the electric fence paddock again. Chances are, they’ll get a shock and decide not to try it again.
If your stock are not naturally quiet you will have to set the fence up within a secure paddock and let them get several shocks under their belt so they can learn not to touch the fence. Then run them into your electrically fenced paddock and treat as above.
Bear in mind, no electric fence (especially a temporary, movable one like the one shown here) can be relied upon to confine an animal that is stressed, so don’t let your dogs chase your stock and avoid upsetting them unduly.
How to Tell the Fence is Working
No, you don’t have to trick your dog, wife or mate into touching the fence to see if it’s working!
If you are near the solar fence charger the light will be on when the fence is on.
You will also be able to hear the solar fence charger clicking as the electric pulse goes through it. If it is not working properly (e.g. if it is shorted out somewhere) the clicking will be much fainter, except in the vicinity of the short.
Using An Electric Fence To Get The Most From Your Grazing
Savvy farmers get more out of their paddocks through pasture rotation, by dividing paddocks into smaller strips using electric fencing.
Animals graze small areas more thoroughly over a shorter period and are then moved on to another small paddock.
The farmer rotates them this way through several paddocks (at least 6 for 1 week each) until they arrive back at the start.
The animals better utilize the accessible area, and pasture rotation also:
• prevents pasture damage caused by animal traffic,
• removes the competitive advantage weeds get when livestock are allowed to range widely and selectively eat out just the good pasture,
• allows pasture to rest between grazing, resulting in better growth and overall pasture yield.