“Over-Engineered” and “Under-Powered” Electric Fences

Over the years, I have had opportunity to work with and visit with many New Zealanders here in the US. I don’t think that it is any secret that many of them have grown up with hi-tensile electric fencing and in general they are 20 years ahead of us with technology and practical use.

Two comments that I have heard repeatedly is that they accuse us Americans of “over-engineering” or over-building our fences; then also that we “under-power” them. In essence that is saying we spend too much money on building the fence and too little on the fence charger.

I would tend to agree with them on that as I have seen many people that make both of those mistakes when designing and installing their first grazing system of hi-tensile electric fencing.

One of the key benefits of using high-tensile wire is that it allows for greater line post spacing than conventional wire; usually 50 feet as a minimum. Also, many people will over-tighten the wires. You want a flexible system that allows for wildlife impacts, snow and ice loading, general equipment impacts, etc. Over-building a hi-tensile electric fence makes it too rigid, and you lose this benefit. Plus, it quite simply, costs you more for materials to build it.

Many of us in the US grew up with 5 strand barbed wire fences. We were taught that rigid and tight was the way to build this fence and it was. Ten to twelve foot spacings on line posts was pretty standard….so, when you tell someone with that mentality, that they should go fifty feet or more – they sometimes kind of stiffen up on you.

I once saw a wild turkey glide into a hi-tensile fence wire. That’s equivalent to a very large bowling ball flying through the air at 40 miles per hour. The fence was unscathed as the turkey walked around, with a few less feathers, wondering WTH……a conventional rigid fence would probably have needed some repairs and tightening.

Anyway, stretch out your line post spacings, and allow your hi-tensile wire to be flexible. Using a line post such as the PasturePro Post also contributes to allowing the overall system to be flexible and forgiving.

There are several other articles on this blog about fence chargers and selecting the right size, so I won’t rant on about the energizer. Just remember to NOT skimp on the charger.  Don’t over-build the fence and don’t under-power it, either.

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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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