Choosing the correct electric fence wire for your livestock enclosure will ensure your animals are protected while they are inside it. Read on to learn more about the varieties of electric fence wire available, the proper voltage to use and other aspects you should consider when deciding on electric fence wire.
The Fence Charger
The fence charger provides the electric current to the fence. The key factor is the current in joules the charger will provide to the entire enclosure. Invest the little bit of extra money in a 6-joule charger, to power your fences. This size of charger will lose no appreciable voltage over a fence length of 1/4 mile. Cover the charger to protect it from rain. Solar-powered fence chargers are not recommended for large-scale enclosures as the power they produce can fluctuate. They may not recharge fully in inclement weather conditions.
Insulated Cable for the Charger
To protect your livestock and your ranch workers, insulated cable, properly grounded with ground rods, is essential. Use insulated cable designed for electric fences to carry the current from the charger to the fence, as well as for all fence wiring. This will prevent electricity leakage and power diminution. Attach the cable to the fence with a specially designed connector clamp, to prevent corrosion and power loss.
Insulated Cable for the Fence Enclosure
Visible cable is a must if you will have horses and cattle inside the fence. This cable comes in several types, including poly tape, poly braid, poly rope and high-tension (HT) wire, coated with an insulating polymer. Select the type of insulator suited to your fence wire, one that allows the fence structure to pass through it for tape, braid and rope style cables.
Poly tape is a lightweight wire for smaller fence enclosures, safest for fencing up to 200 meters in total length.
Poly Braid and Poly Rope
Both of these are brightly colored for high visibility. They come with a solid white outer coating or a green and white stripe. Choose the length you need either 200 or 500 meter reels. Poly rope is 1/4 inch (5 mm) in diameter, while poly braid is 1/2 inch (10 mm) in diameter. Most poly rope has 5 strands of wire while poly braid has 9 wire strands in total, being 3 x 3-strand wires braided together for extra strength and abrasion resistance. Both of these are recommended for fences of 500 meters or longer.
Safety Considerations When Installing
Install all wires on your electric fence 14 inches apart at a maximum. Install the lowest wire on your fence 18 inches above the ground, and keep it free of entangling grass, weeds and shrubs. Anything that comes in continuous contact with the hot wires will bleed off current, reducing the effectiveness of your electric fence. Place the top wire 5 feet above the ground, or at the shoulder level of your largest horse or cattle, whichever is higher. Bury the lead wire that connects the charger to its electricity source and to the fence wires at least 18 inches deep in the ground, sheathed in plastic sheeting to prevent damage from moisture and vibration.