Sizzling tips for electric and high tensile fence
By Terryn Drieling
High tensile fence and portable electric (hot) fence – both can provide affordable, low-maintenance alternatives to barbed wire, wood, or continuous fence. The keyword there is “can” – just because you build it doesn’t mean it will be low maintenance or that your cost savings will translate to value.
WR rounded up some tips to help ensure your portable hot fences and high tensile fences are successful.
Pointers for Portable Electric Fence
Train your stock.
Because portable hot fence serves as a psychological barrier versus a physical barrier, you can’t put cattle behind it and expect them to stay if they’ve never seen (or felt) it in action. They need to learn that it’s hot. Once they figure that out, chances are good they won’t test it again.
One method for training livestock to hot fence is a single-wire cross-fence spanning part way across an existing corral with an end gap wide enough to encourage free passage between the two sides. Another training method is a hot fence offset from the inside of an existing permanent corral.
In general, it doesn’t take more than a couple of days before each animal has nosed or rubbed up against the wire, learning what hot fence is all about. Once trained to hot fence, livestock can be kicked out to pasture behind a single wire in confidence.
Poly-wire or poly-tape – that is the question.
Both are made of wires woven between nylon or plastic, giving them strength and visibility. Poly-wire can stand up to wind and adverse weather conditions. Poly-tape is more suitable when visibility is important. But the most important factor to consider is electrical conductivity.
Electrical conductivity is determined by the number, thickness, and type of metal used to make up the wire filaments within each braid. The number of interconnections between individual wire filaments are also important to conductivity. Interconnections determine how easily power can be transferred should one filament break.
The moral of the story is – don’t reach for the cheapest wire on the shelf. Determine whether you need a poly-wire, or if poly-tape will work. And check the resistivity before you purchase to make sure it will hold adequate current for the distance you need.
Portability depends on the posts.
There are a variety of posts that will work in a portable setup. It’s important to consider individual preferences, terrain, and just how portable the hot fence needs to be.
Fiberglass posts can work beautifully in semi-permanent applications but can be difficult to drive into hard or rocky terrain. UV-stabilized polymer and pigtail step-in posts offer a strong yet flexible option well suited for frequent moving. Equipped with steel stakes and foot pedals, step-in post can literally be stepped into varying soil types and removed with the same ease.
And for the more frequent movers and grazers, there are Tumblewheels. Gallagher Tumblewheels feature a unique hub through which the wire runs. The hub keeps the fence hot even while it’s rolling along to the next location. Tumblewheels can provide a time saving option for intensive rotational grazing systems.
For more on Tumblewheels, visit www.gallagher.com
Find a fencer that can go the distance.
Fencer, electric fence charger, fence energizer – no matter what you call it, it’s important to consider how the charger is powered and the range it can keep hot. Because let’s face it, nobody has time to constantly be changing and charging batteries or putting cattle back because their fencer couldn’t go the distance.
With electric fence chargers such as the Parmak Deluxe Field Solar-Pak 6, there is zero changing and charging of batteries. The Parmak Deluxe Field Solar-Pak 6 is equipped with a state-of-the-art solar panel that charges the built-in 6-volt battery even when it’s cloudy. And its 25-mile range can save the time and headache of rounding up escaped livestock. Find more information on the Parmak fencers at www.parmakusa.com.
Similarly, the Patriot SolarGuard™ 155 from Tru-Test Group features a built-in 12-volt battery charged by its solar panel. The large storage capacity enables the Patriot SolarGuard™ 155 to operate for up to 21 days with no sunlight at all. For more on the Patriot SolarGuard™ fencers, visit www.patriotglobal.com.
How to Build High-Quality High Tensile Fence
It’s no mystery that a solid plan leads to solid fence. This is especially true of high-tensile fence. The key to a successful high-tensile fence is advanced planning, combined with proper tools and quality materials.
Kencove Farm Fence Supplies recommends beginning any high-tensile fencing project by drawing to scale a detailed layout, including all posts, wires, and materials needed to complete the project. To avoid a major snag, all utility lines should also be located and noted in the layout.
To order a copy of their free video, How to Build High-Tensile Fence visit www.kencove.com/fence/Instructional+video.
Don’t skimp on posts.
One of the biggest mistakes in building high-tensile fence is skimping on post size. Puny posts might seem like a great way to save money, but they won’t last and will end up costing more time and money in the long run.
ProFence, a premier fence installer in the eastern United States with more than 20 years of testing under their belts, suggest that the best value in terms of strength and longevity are in posts that are at least five to six inches in diameter. ProFence uses posts that are CCA pressure treated southern yellow pine and are 6.5 feet in length. However, they suggest using end anchor and corner posts that are 8 feet long and set four feet deep. Spacing is dependent on the number of wires.
Brace your fence.
High-tensile wire puts a lot of strain on posts, no matter the size. It is important to brace the ends and corners with a solidly constructed H-brace. ProFence builds their braces using two posts sunk four feet in the ground and spaced eight feet apart with a horizontal pole running between them, reinforced with a diagonal wire to hold the brace together.
Choose high-quality high-tensile wire.
The high tensile wire features a great amount of strength and elasticity. It can withstand the pressure of an animal running into it without damage. However, the strength and elasticity are dependent on the grade of the high tensile wire.
Bekaert Fencing System’s high-tensile smooth wire products meet or exceed ASTM standards and have a breaking load of 1,305 for 170 K PSI and 1,535 for 200 K PSI products. Bekaert also offers two different coating options to meet individual environmental and operational needs.
High-tensile fence can be equipped with a single wire or built with up to a dozen wires. The number of wires depends on personal preference and needs. However, whether it’s a single wire fence or a dozen, one or more wires can be electrified to prevent animals rubbing and increase the security of the fence.
For more information on Bekaert high-tensile smooth wire, visit www.fencing.bekaert.com.
Hot Tip for Hot Fence.
Whether it’s portable or permanent, the most important factor in keeping hot fence hot is a good ground. You can do everything else right, but if you don’t have a good ground you won’t have a hot fence.
According to Patriot’s Electric Fence Product and Resource Guide (from Tru-Test Group), a good ground system consists of ground rods or stakes that pass electric current back from the soil to the fencer. The large the fencer and the longer the fence, the more ground rods are required.
Things like dry, sandy soil and vegetation touching the live wire can affect how hot your fence is. Dry, sandy, non-conductive soil can limit the current flow to the ground rods. Vegetation touching the live wire will allow current to leak, which can cause a short in the fence and voltage to drop.