Over the years we’ve tried numerous styles and materials in making our electric fence gates. Spring gates, bungy gates, high tensile wire and cord, but it seemed we never could find the right combination. The least successful gates occurred the year we used bungy cord that turned out to be a real lemon. It stretched and sagged so fast that our son-in-law said he was certain he heard the lead cow telling the others as he installed the gates “don’t worry girls, just give it a couple of days- the gate will sag to the ground and we’re out of here”. To remove the sag we kept tying bow knots in the bungy until it began to look like one continuous knot. A lot of our neighbors bought that bungy-and you could always tell from where it came by the knots dangling in the line..
Since we don’t run sheep anymore we have evolved to a one wire gate, usually 25-30’ wide. We started off making our gates 16’ wide because that’s the distance between posts for metal gates–the old “because that’s they way we’ve always done it” syndrome. With an electric fence gate it’s easy to stretch it out to even as much as 40’ which can make it easier moving large groups of cattle or equipment through. For materials we’ve developed a pretty simple system.
electrified horse rope-for conductivity and “see-ability’ by the livestock
no-kick plastic handles- [no metal] for the hinged end of the gate
gate handle-good quality, spring loaded-wish there was 20 year gate handle
actuator-to what you hook your gate when you make it hot
insulated wire-to attach to the actuator leading from the hot wire fence
rope clamps- for securing the rope to the no kick and spring gate handles
We like using a large staple in the wood posts and hooking a no-kick handle on to this. It allows us to remove the gate and use it somewhere else in a pinch but it also acts as our “breaker” if something runs through the gate as the no-kicks will almost always break before the more expensive gate handles. The no-kicks cost a buck and the handles range from $5-$7 in price. Our gates now last several years and the rope should last twenty. Two concerns with rope gates:
-we have found the rope will contract over time and especially in cold weather. Don’t make them fiddle tight and leave some tail through the rope clamps so you can lengthen the rope easily if needed.
-cattle love to chew rope. Why- I have no idea. So don’t leave it laying about in the lanes or you’ll find a gooey mess with broken filaments on your hands. A smart idea, and one we haven’t used, is to make a wire loop on your fence so when you want to leave a gate open but the cows will still have access you can hook the gate to the fence and make it hot, saving it from the mouths of cows.