Fencing is the key to pasture management. It allows a livestock producer to rotate pastures and control livestock and predators. Many types of fences are used in Ontario to provide a physical barrier. they include an assortment of cedar rail, stone, page wire, barb wire, suspension, hihg tensile, and board fences.
Livestock farms need at least an exterior or perimeter fence. Interior fences allow a farm to be subdivided and moveable fences add flexibility to grazing management. Electric fencing offers this versatility and is effective and inexpensive.
Electric fencing can replace worn out fences or be used as a new fence. It will support and extend the life of a page wire or rail fence. The high cost and labour involved in putting up and maintaining traditional fences has made electric fencing more attractive. When properly constructed, modern electric fencing is much more dependable than the older style battery-operated units used in the past.
Figure 5-1. One strand high tensile wire supporting a rail fence.
Electric fencing is a psychological, rather than a physical, barrier. The success of electric fencing depends on training your livestock to respect the fence. Try the following:
- keep your training area small
- place a charged wire inside a permanent corral or barnyard fence, where there is little chance for escape
- leave your livestock inside this area for a few days to familiarize themselves with this electric fencing before putting them out pasture.
Untrained, an animal may try to go through the fence. But many hours of time can be saved rounding up livestock and repairing fences if the animals are well trained.
How Does It Work?
A power source, either hydro or battery operated, is needed to operate the energizer. The energizer sends out a current in a pulse. Wire is used to carry the current along the fence. A ground completes the circuit. When an animal comes in contact with a live wire, it shorts the current to the ground and the animal receives a shock. An electric fence line with no vegetation touching it requires very little power to maintain high voltage levels. Normally the fence will have to handle some plant growth. This is called the fence load. Every plant in contact with a live wire draws a small amount of current to the ground. With miles of wire, this power drain can reduce your fence's effectiveness.