Electric fencing can be valuable tool to a sheep operation.Fencing is
a valuable tool for sheep producers, as it allows them to control where
livestock eat and how long they remain there, enabling them to manage
stocking density and grazing pressure.
It can also be useful in preventing animals accessing areas which may
be dangerous or unhealthy, such as areas where mud snails, the
intermediate host for liver fluke, may be present.
Fencing is a crucial part of systems which include rotational grazing
and where the ability to change areas used by stock easily is important.
Electric fencing is flexible, can be cost-effective and is worth considering
as an alternative to conventional fencing
All-grass wintering of ewes and group grazing of sheep are both examples
of systems which rely heavily on electric fencing. If well maintained, it can
be durable, as stock have little, if any, contact with the fence.
Points to consider include the type of fence required, length of area to
be fenced, corners and change in direction, requirement for gateways
and means of powering fences
There are three main types of electric fencing: permanent electric,
off conventional and temporary electric.
It is important to consider what you require before installation. Permanent
electric is a long-term option and should be trouble-free once erected.
To prevent stock rubbing or pushing against original fencing, the use of ‘
off conventional’ fencing, which consists of an electric fence wire placed
at a small distance from an existing timber or wire mesh fence, is a good
For a lightweight option which can be transported easily, temporary electric
fencing is ideal, enabling large fields to be broken up for ‘strip’ or ‘paddock’
grazing. With the use of adapted quad bikes, the movement and erection
of these fences can be quick.
The main components of an electric fence system include a power source,
an energizer, an earth system and a conductor. These need to work together
efficiently to maintain the circuit. The energizer converts mains or battery
power into high voltage pulses of current.
The earth system allows the power to flow around the fence and is an
important component which is often overlooked. An electric fence is an
open circuit and, if the earth system is working well, when an animal
touches the wire it will produce a shock and then allow the flow of
electricity back to the energizer.
Electricity flows through a conductor and various wiring and netting can
be used to fulfill this role.
With conventional fencing, its security is in direct proportion to the
physical strength of the posts and wire as the animals are able to
challenge them directly by rubbing or scratching.
With electric fencing, the security is in proportion to the voltage and
consistency of wire height as, once the animals are trained, they will not
challenge the fence providing these are both adequate.
Deciding whether your fencing is permanent or temporary will determine
the number and height of wire strands. It is important to ensure the wires
provide a fence which controls stock and avoids shorting out due to
vegetation. The lowest wire should be as high as possible to avoid this
if control of vegetation at the fence is not possible.