For my first post, I have a question on electric fence.
I was given a red snapper continuous current electric fence charger. I have a pulsing charger that's outside my sheep pen deterring the dog and other hungry wildlife. I have heard stories of electric fences starting grass fires and I'm in the west with a relatively heavy dry weed load. I've tried to find more info on the continuous current chargers, but have been out of luck.
If it's safe to use, I can swap them and put the pulsing charger to work some where else.
Anything else I should know about continuous chargers?
Amps are the electrical charge known to "lock muscle" and even cause death.
Volts can provide an intense shock, which teaches and trains the animal to stay away from the fence, but causes no damage or injury.
There are three main types of electric fence energizers:
AC-Powered, DC Battery-Operated and Solar-Powered.
The source of power for the charger to function determines the type of charger you will be using.
Specific situations require different types of electric fence energizers.
AC-powered electric fence energizers are the most common type of charger used in electric fence systems today.
DC electric fence energizers are best for use when there is no electric power source nearby.
Generally speaking, the bigger batteries last longer and can create more volts.
A solar powered electric fence energizer usually contains a battery for energy storage.
The solar panel collects the energy from the sun and charges the battery.
A low impedance fence charger means that there is less resistance (or impedance) in the charger so more power can be pushed through the wire.
Low-impedance electric fence energizers are ideal for land with weeds
Continuous output means there is a constant charge on the hot wires as opposed to pulsing charges.
An intermittent output means that the electricity is released in a pulse rather than a continuous charge.
These electric fence energizers save energy and are safer for the animal or human that may inadvertently come in contact with the fence.
Any time the live wire is grounded (something touches it other than an animal) the line goes dead or at least will not shock as well as it should.
Usually Continuous output is preferred by ranchers around here (I'm in Arkansas).
All systems can start brush fires if something like a tumbleweed sticks against your live wire and remains touching the ground, or if weeds grow up against the fence and make it to the hot wire.
Usually things like this are considered shorts.
Travis Johnson wrote:My neighbor had a continuous fence charger and it killed his cow. Myself I have lost lambs that got tangled up in Electronet with a pulse charger, now I do not have one foot of electric fence. Woven wire is not that expensive all things considered..
I've found that when using a continuous energizer it is rather important to size it fairly close to the length of wire that will be used.
Since most of these things are rated for "lengths of run" if you use a "5 mile" rated energizer but only have 1,000 feet of wire then you are using "High Voltage", which can kill since that energizer is set up for 5,280 feet x 5.
This makes it really important to know exactly the length of "wire" you are going to be energizing so you don't have huge overkill on the line.
If you are in Bear Country then use the "High Voltage energizer for outside the fenced in area repulsion and get a different, lower rated energizer for inside the fence, that way you aren't running that risk of killing your stock but you are protecting them from predators.
What you should be looking for is a shock that is strong enough to repel your animal but light enough that it won't damage them if they press into it upon being shocked. (the equivalent of you getting a shock from an electrical outlet (around 120V at 2 amps)
When in doubt, use a multi meter to check the charge going through your electric wires and hopefully you have an energizer that allows you to adjust the charge.
If not then you might want to consider installing a suitable "pot" inline between the fence charge wire and the energizer so you can adjust how much charge there is in the fence.
I have included one companies recommendations at the bottom of this post.
In my case I don't really need inside the fence repulsion as much as I need Coyote repulsion.
This means my ideal set up would only have Hot Wires out side the actual fence and I would have them really Hot, since I don't mind if a Coyote fries on my hot wires.
My fences are not more than 5 feet high mostly because there are deer runs across our property that I don't want to discourage the use of by the deer.
I prefer to buy energizers rated in Joules rather than the generic "Miles" it's easier for me to select the "just right" charge of each wire that way.
The following is from Kencove Farm Fence Supplies
Testing your fence when it is first constructed is always a good first step. This will give you an idea of what the fence voltage should be. Test your fence with an electric fence voltmeter.
The active voltage on the fence will usually be less than the output of the fence energizer due to resistance in the fence material. The fence voltage reading on the voltmeter will typically be less than the active voltage in the fence due to resistance in the earth. Therefore, fence voltage readings may be higher the closer you are to the energizer and ground rods, and lower the farther away you test the fence.
How to Test Your Fence:
1.First, make sure that the power is active in the power outlet of 110-volt units or the battery is fully charged on battery or solar models.
2.Next, test the output of the energizer by disconnecting the positive lead to the fence and reading across the positive and negative terminals of the charger.
If the power is much less than the manufacturer’s open line specifications, you have an energizer problem and should address that first.
3.If the power supply and energizer output are good, check the ground rod connections next.
Poor grounding is the most common failure in an electric fence.
If you have 3 or more ground rods, you can disconnect the end rod and take a reading between the wire and the disconnected rod.
This will indicate if power is leaking from the fence into the ground and back to the ground rods.
4.To test the fence line, start reading the power close to the energizer.
You should expect readings above 2000 volts for horses and above 4000 volts for all other livestock.
If readings are good close to the energizer, move down the line taking readings between every other fence post.
You should expect a gradual drop in voltage as you move away from the energizer.
5.If the voltage reading is low from the first few readings, you have a short in the fence and should look for foliage touching the fence, broken insulators or hardware, faulty wire connections, or actual fence that is sagging or down.
6.If the voltage declines rapidly the farther you get from the energizer, you most likely have a ground problem caused by dry or barren soil.
This may be corrected by adding more ground rods or converting to a hot/ground fence system.
I have wooled sheep so electric fence is a problem for me. I once looked out and saw a sheep stretched underneath the bottom strand eating grass on the lawn and thought my charger was down. Then I watched as the ewe stepped back, put her nose on the wire and literally blew all four hooves off the ground. So I tested the fence and it had 9000 volts on it. Yep no wonder she went skyward.
But the USDA gave me a couple of miles of that Electronet for rotational grazing and I tried it a few times. The sheep paid no heed to that silly stuff, they charged right through it. Then on a rainy day I had two lambs get tangled up in it and died of electrocution. It really made me mad because the twins came from a c-section, the only one I ever did that produced to live lambs only to be killed a few weeks later by Electronet. Fooey with that junk!!
I had a neighbor with sheep though, and she was really up against it, so I let her borrow that Electronet. She would get it in the spring, then return it in the fall, and finally I was like, "just keep it. It was given to me, so just take it." And I guess she uses it to this day. I have woven wire up now with tube gates and I like that, but I am getting to the point now where I have too many sheep to graze. It is actually far cheaper to build a confinement barn then fence what would be required for them to graze on. It is not just fence though, it is installing enough waterers, the trampling of grass, predation, and other factors. Its a sad reality, I loved watching the sheep graze.
I think that a well constructed fence, all by itself does a good job of keeping animals in and out.
Here is a link to the PDF by powerwizardinc, it gives a lot of information on this subject. selecting an energizer
continuous energizers are indeed usually AC powered and they send a continuous current through the wire, the pulse comes when an animal touches the wire. (even the low impedance units do this)
All energizers need to have a constant, consistent current passing through them, think about it this way, if the current is on then off then on, an animal could get lucky and miss the charge as it comes through the wire.
Low and Ultra Low impedance is about having the best savings on your electric bill. Most of the folks I have talked to that use solar energizers tell me that they had to set up battery banks to make sure their fence always had a charge present.
I think that anyone that decides to use electric fence, should learn as much as they can prior to spending the money for the fence wire and energizer.
Correct me if my definition is wrong but if current is always running through a wire then it is continuous current.
A pulse of current vrs a constant current would require capacitors that discharge when they reach their capacity. The fence would be effectively dead between the discharges.
Because of "neighbors" we have to have the perimeter fence for the whole farm and just a select few other permanent sections, dictated as necessary for garden protection, animal segregation (those that refuse to get along).
The coyote population initially was the reason I started learning about Electric fencing but our area now has enough LGD's present that the coyotes seem to be moving away.
Since we are bordered by flatter cattle pasture land on the north( where the coyotes love to run and hunt) we were thinking of trying a solar unit for the northern border eventually, should the pack grow or start coming closer.
When you calculate in a coyote proof fence must be of Page Wire and 4 feet high, where any livestock strikes are compensated, it gets even cheaper. And the same physical fence that keeps sheep in, keeps coyotes out. That saves on having to have live stock guardians and their accompanying costs. I am not even sure how you put a price on having livestock that is not in the road, or your neighbor's posses, or your neighbor's dog getting into the pasture...
I know why people put up electric fence, the same reason I initially did...its cheap up front, but in the end it is the most expensive fence you can install.
Regarding "continuous charge" versus pulse or intermittent charge electric fence - certainly the fences using polywire are doing a pulsed charge, it's how they can use the polywire and not melt it. I'm not informed about how rapidly the charge pulses in these systems, but it is certainly possible for it to be too fast for anything to run through during the dead time.
Whether or not electric fencing is the right answer for your situation is an individual case-by-case decision.
Plug in the charger and if it clicks then you'll know that it is sending out a pulsed charge. It should be an audible click and is very noticeable. The "continuous charge" business is likely a "marketing" thing and doesn't mean that there is constant current being pushed through the line. If the charger makes the click sound you should be good to go. Put a tester on it and look for the fluctuating voltage readings as insurance. If it doesn't click I wouldn't use that charger for the reasons listed above. I personally use a lot of electric fence at our place. We paddock shift our animals so the flexibility is required for our grazing system to work.
I live in Maine and here only 10% of the land base is field (the other 90% is forest), so fields here tend to be small. In the Spring of the year when the grass is really growing, I just put my sheep in the smaller fields.Then we go into summer and the grass starts slowing down, I put them into the bigger fields. That is how I go about mob grazing on this farm, not so much in the number of animals I have, but how big of a space they are in based on how fast the grass is growing. The slower the grass grows, like in September and October, they inevitably have to be in bigger fields to graze.
I am not talking big fields either, my smallest field is 5 acres in size and my biggest is only 37 acres. But even then I have the biggest broken down into three smaller sections, a 12 acre field, a 10 acre field and a 15 acre field. By parading the sheep around to different fields, I get the rotational grazing I am looking for, without having to set up fence and all that it takes to ensure electric current is not impeded. This works well too because in the Spring, when the grass is really cranking, my sheep are grazing the small acreages, while we are pulling first crop of winter feed off the bigger fields, which is more conducive to tractors and implements. But this also works in my favor because the sheep by grazing all the acres eventually over the course of a growing season to help to fertilize those fields. Not 100%, but that is what their winter manure is for.
It gets a little trickier because I am dealing with another whole farm, but on the good years, I'll graze the corn fields in early Spring right up until they till the field. That is because they fertilize the corn with liquid dairy cow manure and since clover seed pass through a cow without being destroyed, it grows excellent clover the sheep can graze on.
Naturally they cannot go back on it until after the corn has been harvested in October, but there they graze the cobs and the stalks.
I have only done this once, but I tilled and sowed winter rye and let they extend their grazing season a bit in both fall and spring, but due to the cost of tillage and the price of winter rye seed, what little bit I saved on feeding hay did not really save me much money. It did however get a little extra manure on the fields without having to spread it mechanically.
Cheap farm store energizesr, cheap insulators, incorrect grounding, not routinely testing fence, untrained livestock are often the most common reasons livestock get out. Even if you going to use page wire you almost always need electric or barbed wire to keep animals off the fence. Best thing to do is find a good electric fence retailer in your area and they will set you up correctly. I learned a lot from my fence suppliers over the years.
I have another electric fence run around the outside of our barn. The pigs like to take away the dirt from the outside of the barn. The rest of the pig pen is fenced with cattle panels.
Zareba makes continuous chargers. Blitzer and FiShock are two of the brands for animal containment. Depending on what stores are in your area supplies which brand.