How to Install an Electric Fence for Cattle

Electric Fence Installation for Cattle

Those who have livestock usually depend on these animals for their income. In this context, looking after them and ensuring that they are contained is essential. After all, livestock that run away or get attacked by foxes and other feral animals ​is a disaster for farmers and other people who depend on the land for their income.

While people have been using regular ​stock fencing for generations, the truth is that electric fencing is often more cost-effective and simply more effective in general at keeping animals where they should be. What people will often find is that animals learn very quickly that they should not go near the fences. This means that they become habituated to remaining in their area, even if the power happens to go out.

When you invest in good quality electric fencing, you take control of your land and your livestock. You make a good investment in your future and protect your income.

How to Install an Electric Fence ​for Cattle

If you’ve decided to install an electric fence, the good news is that it’s possible to go out and buy all of the equipment needed so that you can install it yourself. But, you may be wondering how to go about it if you’ve never done it before. Here are some tips:

1. Plan for the Location

Electric fences use what’s called a fence charger or ​energizer and it needs to be kept out of the weather. Finding a weatherproof area for it is essential before digging any holes in the ground and doing anything else. There should also be a power outlet right near it so that it can be plugged in. This draws power for the electric fencing. Once you’ve located the right spot for it, be it in a cellar or weatherproof shed with electrical power, leave it there, but don’t plug it in until last.

Sometimes, people will also install chargers, but this is not always a good idea. Solar chargers, for example, will not usually supply enough power for an electric shock that will affect the animal and deter it. Solar chargers are even more useless when it comes to large fencing installations because they simply cannot supply enough power for the entire thing.

The best way to approach this aspect is to use mains power. This means using a good quality fence ​charger that plugs into the mains power. Additionally, you won’t need to rely on the sun being out to keep your fence charged.

2. The Grounding Rods

This should be sunk completely underground and be installed within 20 feet of the area where the fence ​energizer is located. Once you’ve done this, you need to run the grounding wire from the rod to the fence ​charger and ensure that it’s secured tightly.

Grounding Rod for Electric Fence

Ideally, you should also have two extra six foot grounding rods. These can be sunk underground also and placed 10 feet away from each other. This creates the safest possible electrical system for your fence installation.

3. Install the Fence Posts

This is perhaps the toughest part of the entire process of installing the fence. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the area of land where you want the fencing to encapsulate, the bigger the space is needed between fence posts. This can be anywhere between 25 and 75 feet between each post, but it will largely be determined by the size of the land area.

Installing Electric Fence Posts

The reason why this is important is because the fence wire needs to be flexible enough to be able to withstand any animal running into it without breaking. If you have no experience in this area, it’s wise to be guided by the experience of someone who understands what they’re doing.

You may also need to install support posts between the T-posts to provide extra support. If an animal runs into the fence, it needs to be secure enough to bear the weight of that animal without breaking or flexing too much.

So, what kind of fence posts should you be looking for? Many people opt to use wooden fence posts because they are easy and less expensive, but they will degrade over time. Metal fence posts tend to be more expensive, but they will provide a lot more strength and durability over time.

4. Install the Electrical Wiring

Now that you have all of the fundamentals set up and ready to go, it’s time to actually install the wiring that will electrify the whole thing. When you’re doing this step, it’s really important to ensure that all of the wiring is secured to each post and that you use insulation tape where necessary. The last thing you want is for all your hard work to be undone as soon as heavy rains or winds come along. You also don’t want your livestock ​to escape easily.

Installing Electric Fence Wire

Run all of the wiring from the fence ​charger, bearing in mind the height of the fence posts. You need to consider how big the animals are and space the electrical wiring accordingly. For example, it’s no good leaving too much space near the bottom of the posts if you have small animals that can escape underneath.

A good rule of thumb here is to place a wire at about the shoulder height of the animal and then space from that central point. This ensures that any animal is likely to be shocked by the wire if they bump into it.

5. Check Everything Carefully

Once you have your fence ​charger all set up, your fence posts, support posts, and all of the wire, you must go back and ​test the fencing for any faults. Just remember: there will be electricity running through this setup, so you need to make sure that every wire and every clasp is secured where it needs to be.

6. Switch ​It On

Once you’ve checked over everything carefully, it’s time to plug in the fence ​charger to the outlet and turn on the power. If everything is set up as it should be, there will be electrical power running through the fence wire. Most fence ​energizers have some sort of light or other indicator that will signal that the power is running okay.

Switching On a Electric Fence

Once the fence is electrified, you should check the voltage with a voltmeter. The electrical current should be running along the entire length of the fence, so you should check for any spots where it might be dead.

​Problems That Can Occur​

Of course, there are always going to be people who decide to install it all by themselves, even if they’ve not had any experience before. Apart from the obvious dangers when it comes to handling electrical devices, here are just some of the things that often go wrong:

  • The wiring is installed weakly so that it will not absorb the run of an animal
  • The fence posts are not spaced correctly, this placing pressure on parts of the fence
  • Parts of the fencing start to sag because the wire has not been secured properly to the posts or not taut enough
  • Parts of the fencing wire do not receive electrical voltage and are, therefore, vulnerable to animals escaping

​Remember To Stay Safe When Installing

​Installing an electric fence is really not for a total beginner. Working with electricity is always risky, and even for those who are moderately experienced, so the combination of hammering in fence posts and working with electricity should always be undertaken by someone who ​knows what they are doing.

Note: This is just general information and should ​NOT be considered as professional or safety advice.

  • Updated February 15, 2020