Any small land owner who keeps animals, has seen the need for a portable electric fence. Maybe you just want some seasonal fencing for when the grass is the greenest or you need to rotate your small herd often so they don’t eat the grass bare. Whatever the reason, a portable style electric fence can come in very handy but learning about the parts needed to make one work, can be very tedious and sometimes you do not get a straight answer from all the suppliers out there. Below I’ve made up a list of important parts to a portable fence, to hopefully give us fence shoppers a better place to start when planning a portable electric fence.
This style of electric fence is the most portable and versatile fence you can use. It usually comes in varying heights from 24″ to 48″ and generally from 100′ to 165′ long. The openings in the netting also vary. This type of fence comes as a long length of netting with integrated posts evenly space throughout in order to prop the netting up.
Charger or Energizer
This keeps the fence charged. There are two main kinds of energizers, Solar or Hard-Wired. Solar chargers can be placed anywhere as they do not require any direct power to be supplied to them. The Hard-Wired obviously needs to be hard-wired or plugged in to an electric source in order to supply the charger with electricity so that it can electrify the fence. The Hard-wire chargers are generally more rely and more powerful than the solar chargers but depending on the application, the solar chargers are simpler and more convenient. Most solar chargers will suffice for people looking to tie a few lengths of electric netting together.
Low Impedance and Grounding
It is important to have a low impedance charger when putting up a portable fence, this is because a low impedance charger will not shock anything that is touching it continuously, this could be things like tree branches or weeds and grass growing around the base of your fence. While these things should be removed from contact with your fence, a low impedance fence will still buy you some time so that the battery isn’t being depleted on a regular basis. Most electric netting sold today is low impedance so this feature is easy to find but it should also be noted that low impedance fencing requires adequate grounding of the system or it will not work properly. This can be accomplished by placing a few grounding rods into the ground around the fence. The fence, of course, must also be connected to these ground rods. Some fencing kits come with ground rods, some do not, copper is a good material for ground rods as is any conductive metal, some people have even used rebar, although these will eventually rust and need to be replaced but may work in the short term.
The amount of joules a charger or energizer puts out, determines what kind of animals you will be keeping in, if you are looking to keep sheep and goats in, you will need a higher joule output. Higher for goats than if you are solely trying to contain sheep. Many people say 6 joules is the minimum for keeping goats in, other say they can get by with 2 or 3. Generally the higher the joule output, the more expensive the system, so people like to the use the lowest joule output that is effective. This unfortunately may require some trial and error on the part of the homesteader but remember that it’s better to have a stronger system than one that is too weak.
It is important to kept safety in mind when using portable electric netting. Because of the nature of the fence, it is possible for animals to get stuck in the fence and die from the stress of the situation. This is an extreme case and is not know to be common but when first implementing this type of fence, it is important to be present while your herd is acclimating to the presence of the fence. Sometimes an animal may run into the fence rather than away from it when being shocked, this is when they could get tangled. It would be safer for someone to be there to untangle the animal in this situation. Once animals have been acclimated to the fence, then they can be left alone but precautions should be taken when introducing animals to these kinds of fences.
I have also read that stronger fences can be fatal for poultry and yet somehow these electric fences are also very ineffective in containing them due to their feathers insulating them against electric shock. It is my opinion that these fences not be used to contain poultry. A physical barrier that is taller than they ability to jump/fly and too flimsy for them to roost on at the top will to just fine to either contain them or keep them out of something.