• Jennifer Sartell

Installing Electric Fencing

Please use and install electric fence with caution. You are responsible for your safety while installing and using electric fence.

I am not a vet, this post is not meant to give any medical advice for your animals. Please consult your veterinarian.

This post is not sponsored.

We recently decided to give our Jersey heifer (Maple) a larger pasture area. The more pasture you can give a grazing animal the better. Large pastures help limit parasite exposure (as the areas with droppings are more spread out), it lends a more varied diet, vegetation re-growth, room to wander and be free, and it cuts WAY down on our hay usage!

With this in mind, grazing animals should be exposed to fresh pasture gradually, as too much fresh grass all at once can cause diarrhea. I always feed a probiotic when changing any of our animal's diet. I like the Probios brand. You give a small scoop once a day with the grain ration and it helps balance out the rumen.

Electric Fence Positives:

  • Electric fencing is wonderful in that it's less labor intensive to install

  • it can be moved rather easily

  • the cost is much lower

  • quick to put up

  • easy to fix if broken

  • can be taken down quickly and easily too

  • Can also be used to keep animals out (We started laying electric fence around our sunflower field to keep the deer and Sandhill Cranes out.)

Electric Fence Draw Backs:

  • It won't contain all animals. The goats we have now happen to be very mild mannered, however, if we still had some of the goat's we've raised in the past, I know they would be right through that fence. Our cow Maple was shocked twice, once on either end of the pasture and she learned that she won't go beyond the fence.

  • It's tricky in remote areas, and you might have to rely on a solar powered system.

  • You'll need weed management. If the electric fence comes in contact with overgrown weeds it will reduce the power of the shock.

  • If the power does go down, or there is a technical problem, your animals can escape, although, once animals are trained they often don't test it again.

  • It's...shocking! We have a 5 year old and luckily she's old enough to know that she shouldn't touch the fence, but if you have younger children it might be a problem. I did touch the fence to test it, and while it's a good zap, it wasn't terrible. Just not pleasant.



T-post driver or sledge hammer

30 Mile Electric Fence Energizer

short and long plastic clips/insulators

copper grounding rod

grounding wire

grounding rod clamp

Black and Yellow Electric Fence Poly Wire

measuring tape


wire snips

We started by clearing the tall grass from our hay field. If the fence touches grass or weeds it will zap the grass and lesson the strength of the jolt. The mowed path also gave us a path to work in.

Zach drove 6' T-Posts into the ground (about foot until the spade was just under the ground) every 32 feet.

Then we clipped the insulators on to the fence posts in three spots down the post. Top, middle, and bottom.

Near the existing fence we used the long insulators which holds the electric fence away from the wire fence. As we moved past the wire fence, into the field, we used the shorter insulators. The insulators fit around the T-post and with a little pressure, snap into place.

There are multiple types of fencing wire you can use. We chose to use the black and yellow electric fence poly wire. We like this type of wire because in our sunflower field, we remove it after the sunflowers are established and we open for U-Pick. It can be re-wound easily and used year after year as we move our sunflower field in crop rotation.

Then we ran the poly wire pulling it taught as we went. At each insulator clip we used a figure 8 motion with the wire wrapped to secure it. In the future, as things loosen, we can wrap the insulators an addition time. At some point we may have to add additional T-Posts to pick up the slack in the wire, but we had these on hand and just wanted to get the project done.

We ran the circumference of our fenced area wrapping the top insulators, when we had reached the end, we ran the wire down the last pole to the middle insulator and then re-traced our steps running the length of the fenced area wrapping all the middle insulators. When we got to the end, again, we ran the wire to the bottom insulator and traced the length of the fenced area wrapping the bottom insulator clips.

We hung the electric fence energizer box on the outer wall of the barn which connects to our pasture. This is a shared wall with Zach's shop, so there is an outlet through the wall. If your field is too far to plug in directly, there are solar options available. We chose the 30 mile energizer, which is 1.2 joules. If you need to run more than 30 miles you will need a larger energizer. That 30 miles includes the poly lines run back and forth, top, middle and bottom. If you're running an electric fence in a weedy area, a higher powered energizer box can help to keep the line electrified even with weeds touching it.

Then we used a solid copper grounding rod to ground out the energizer. Zach pounded it into the ground with the t-post driver.

We ran the grounding wire from the negative lead on the energizer to the grounding rod and secured with a grounding rod clamp.

The grounding rod ensures that anything touching the physical ground and the poly wire will get a jolt.

Then we ran the poly wire in the positive terminal on the energizer and plugged it in.

In 2 zaps Maple was trained. The first time she bumped her nose to the fence, she jumped and kicked backwards. She stood there for a couple seconds staring at the fence, then got right back to grazing. As she grazed across the pasture, she made her way to the other side and bumped her nose again. This time she barely raised her head and just kind of snorted. Then continued grazing. We've had it in place for almost 3 weeks now and no escape attempts have been made. In fact, the fence has been unplugged for 2 days (because we're tying in another fence line to the U-Pick sunflower field) and all the animals have stayed in the pasture. Everyone is very content with the new pasture.

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