A Spring Tune-Up for Electric Fencing

Oh yes, spring-time in agriculture, it’s a time of year that we look forward to. Especially after a long hard winter and I think that almost all of North America had some real winter this year. I know that, around here, I have heard this comment often: “I’m about sick of this.”

For me, most of the winter time activities in the pasture are more of the necessity or maintenance nature. I don’t usually go looking for things that I could work on. As long as everything is working satisfactorily, it doesn’t get looked at much.

With today being the third day of March – spring must be getting closer and I, like most people, am looking forward to spring this year. Maybe in agriculture, we should change the calendar year to begin on April 1st. It seems like a more appropriate beginning point…

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about riding fence, so this will be somewhat of a continuation of that. Below are some specific items to inspect and double check that may save you a little aggravation at a later time.

  • Check the connections on your ground rods for both your energizer and your lightning protection. This is a task that I don’t think gets looked at very often – or not until a time when it is causing you a problem. This is a good time to check all your clamps for tightness and/or corrosion. Just make sure they are tight and getting a good bite into the rod. If you have added more fence during the past year it is also a good time a analyze that and determine if you need to add more ground rods. You should have around 3 feet of rod (in the ground) for each output joule of your energizer. It is much easier to drive ground rods in the spring than it is in August!
  • You should have some sort of surge protector in line to where you plug in your energizer. This is a good time to inspect it and make sure that it is working properly. If you don’t have one – it’s a good time to put one on. They are inexpensive at most hardware stores, and thunderstorm season will be coming.
  • Make sure that you have some spare fuses for your energizer on hand. Most fence chargers will have at least 2 fuses that should blow if you get lightning or a surge of power. One will be for the output terminal (or fence wire) and the other for the input or power supply side. And, be sure you have the right size of fuse on hand. You can tape these to the side of the box or store in handy place.
  • Inspect all of your jumper wires. Make sure they all have good tight connections. A loose jumper wire connection will create resistance and not allow the pulse to flow down your fence wire as easily. You can use your fault finder or fence compass and take readings on both sides of all connections. If you are reading an amp loss here, it is a good indication that the connection is not as tight as it should be.
  • Use that fence meter. Most of them will show all shorts and problem areas. Do a little backtracking and try to take care of all those small amp losses. In essence, current flows out of your system via amps. By cleaning up all those small shorts or power losses you will be increasing your voltage. High voltage in early spring will help ensure that you have maximum power for the heavy vegetation months of May and June.
  • If you have a lot of underground wire at gateways, it is a good time to check all of these connections to make sure that they all are working properly. While at the gateways, inspect your gate handles for wear and tear. Rodents have a tendency to chew on the ones you left laying in the grass all winter…
  • Visually inspect your wire tensioners. Look for sags in the wire or over tightness. Technically you should have from 200 to 250 pounds on 12.5 gauge high tensile wire. Visually, it is exceptable to have a slight sag between line posts.
  • These items above are just a short list of things to look for in a spring tune-up. Just use your head and make any repairs that need taken care of now. It is better to have them resolved now rather than have to deal with them at a later time when things get really busy.

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About Gary Duncan

Gary has been active in the fence business for over 15 years. He also raises Highland cattle in a management intensive grazing system and was the first person to market the PasturePro post back in 2005. He enjoys discussing all things grazing and is the main contributor to the blog.
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