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Portable electric fence for rotation grazing  RSS feed

 
Posts: 103
Location: Zone 3-4 (usually 4) Western South Dakota, central Black Hills
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I don’t understand how to use the single strand portable electric fence for mob grazing. I have a solar energizer that works just fine with poultry netting, but the problem is I have to mow the grass, which I would rather feed to the cows. Also, it’s always a guessing game as to where to create the mown square perimeter.  I end up mowing way too much grass and still having to fudge the fence. If I were to use a strand of electric fencing wire instead, does this mean I have to pound in a grounding rod every time I move the cows? Seeing as I have only three cows  (Scottish Highland yearlings) the perimeter isn’t going to be large.  Will a shorter ground rod do? Or do I need to continually pound in and pull out 3 ft grounding rods

Do I have to create a closed loop with the wire in order for the fence to work, or can it be a wire that doesn’t reconnect to its beginning?

How high off the ground does one typically hang the wire?

Help! It’s been difficult finding answers, and I could really use some expert advice. Thanks so much!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1880
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Ive seen it done with one strand . I would assume a perimeter fence was there and the strand would go from fence to fence. The ground rod could be at the permanent fence and stay there. You would have several grounds, one for each paddock.  I think Abc acres on youtube has the same cows and do this. You might look through their video descriptions.

 
Cindy Skillman
Posts: 103
Location: Zone 3-4 (usually 4) Western South Dakota, central Black Hills
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UPDATE

This morning, thanks to their useful horns, the smart little cows were not inside their corral pen, but WERE inside the perimeter poultry netting we’d set up to protect them from the local denizens. We don’t have wolves (usually) but we do have big coyotes that hunt like wolves so what difference does that make in the end? And lions. At least we now know that the poultry netting will keep the “teenagers” inside. Since it works on shaggy coo beasties I guess it will work on furry predators... hopefully.

Hubby and I experimented this afternoon since my fence tester came. (I had to return one I bought locally that didn’t work at all.) We set up two sections of poultry netting connected to each other in the middle but not at the ends. I stood the ends up on each side of the opened corral edges so they wouldn’t touch the metal panels. I was surprised, but it worked reasonably well. I got in the neighborhood of 4.5-5 on the tester. So I guess, at least for poultry netting you don’t have to join the fence at both ends. Huh! But maybe poultry netting is special since it has green wires incorporated in between the reds.

Also, I clumsily brushed my hand across a red wire and got a buzz despite not touching a green. And wearing tennis shoes. No ground rod of any kind. The energizer is sitting on a wooden stool and the ground was dry. That mini-shock surprised me. It makes me think I may be able to move around a short ground rod with a handle bent into the top end for easy removal and use the solar energizer with just the one short ground rod for a very small paddock. Anyway I can try and see. I do want to eventually add offset electric wires to our existing barbed wire fence to keep out predators and free range (huge) Angus bulls, but I have so many other things to do just now... besides which attaching a wire to the perimeter when the cows are somewhere interior and far from the edges seems less than optimal.

 
Cindy Skillman
Posts: 103
Location: Zone 3-4 (usually 4) Western South Dakota, central Black Hills
23
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I wanted to give an update on my electric fence learning curve in case it might help other beginners like me.

I found a short grounding rod made by Patriot. It has a “T-pin” shape for easy removal. I forget how long it is—probably about 2.5 ft. We’ve had a wet year, so that helps with conducting the “spark” through the ground and back to the unit to produce the shock when an animal touches the poly wire or whichever conductive strand you’ve chosen. That’s the only grounding I’ve been using. For an approximately half acre paddock it’s been effective in keeping my (already trained to electric fencing) 18 month old Scottish Highland heifers inside. I’ve been pounding it in at an acute angle to the ground and clipping the green ground clip of my Patriot solar energizer to it (and of course, the hot red clip to the fence wire). It gives me a consistent 9.5-9.9 on the fence tester. I’m told that’s not a whole lot, but the girls do notice it, even through their shaggy coats.

I’ve discovered that simply tying my electric braided equestrian rope together with a tight square knot hasn’t lost me any power as measured by the tester. I’ve discovered also that it makes a nice cut to:

1. Use a new blade in a razer knife. The poly rope is really hard on blades. Cut it on a hard surface, like a cut-off from a 2x4. It must be long enough
to safely hold it steady with your other hand.
2. Before you cut, wrap the rope tightly with electrical tape beside where the cut will be made.
3. Once the rope is cut, Melt the cut edge with a lighter, propane torch, etc.
4. DO NOT TOUCH for several minutes at least. The rope remains hot enough to burn you badly for quite some time—way longer than most of us would think.


One strand is working fine for my cows. The shock is unpleasant, but not too bad. I’ve clumsily touched it twice and for me it’s not traumatic. I do plan to get some grounding rod from the DIY store soon and set up a permanent home for the charger. I’ll drive in 3 or more grounding rods as deep as I can (we have very rocky soil). That way I hope to prepare for rather better-organized strip grazing when the grass gets tall enough next spring and also be able to provide a dependable “loop” of electric current for times when the ground is too dry to effectively conduct the current with my little temporary ground rod.

If some of this seems wrong or incoherent, let me know so I can try to fix it or to clarify... I hope it helps someone as confused as I was about getting started with electric fence.
 
pollinator
Posts: 125
Location: Western OK, avg rain 23" hazards: drought, tornado, wildfire
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Great info and thanks for the update.
 
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