Building an Electric Fence for Cattle

What You'll Need
Hole digger
Post driver
Fence charger

An electric fence is one of the most effective and affordable types of cattle fencing. The cattle will quickly learn to respect the fence, keeping  their distance. Electric fences are also a good tool for protecting livestock from predators such as wolves, coyotes and bears. You can install a temporary fence or a permanent fence, depending on your needs.

Step 1 – Choose the Location

Decide on the best location for your fence. Choose the location based on the size and number of cattle that you need to contain, as well as where the water source is located. If you're not sure about the location, you can choose temporary electric wire that can be moved easily.

Step 2 – Clear the Area

Once you have chosen the location of your fence, remove any brush or debris from the fence line area. The strength of the charge that runs through the fence will be weaker if it grounds out on anything that wasn’t cleared away. A weaker charge means that your cattle will be more likely to test your fence and could escape.

Step 3 – Install the Posts

For a permanent fence, use 8 inches around wood corner posts and 3.5 inches around wood or steel T-posts. Use a post hole digger to make the holes for the wood posts. Insert the wooden posts into the ground and fill the dirt back in firmly around them. Use a post driver to drive the T-posts into the ground. Use small metal or plastic push-in posts if you are making a temporary fence.

Step 4 – Attach the Wires

The wires need to be attached to the posts using insulators. Wood posts use screw-in insulators while steel T-posts and temporary metal posts use wrap-around clips. Plastic posts usually have attachments so that hook on insulators are not needed. Feed the wires through the insulators starting at a corner post. Use five wires or more for a permanent fence. For a temporary fence, use only two or three wires.

Step 5 – Connect the Wires

If you are installing a permanent electric fence, connect every other wire to the fence charger. Leave the rest as grounded wires. If you are installing a temporary fence, connect every wire to the charger.

Step 6 - Maintenance

A volt meter or fault finder can be used to ensure that the correct voltage is being delivered on a regular basis. A fault finder will also make the repair process faster and easier by indicating the direction of the problem. Each spring it is important to walk the entire fence line to ensure that the insulators are still in place and the wire is still tight. You should also look out for debris that could decrease the power going through the wire.