Essential products for high-tensile electric fencing on the farm

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work with some of the  New Zealand dairies that were relocating and establishing operations into Southwest Missouri. These were groups of experienced “hands on” dairymen whom had 25+ years of electric fencing under their belts. I remember well the day I was invited to show my wares.  We did this in a pasture on my tailgate. I took everything with me, including the kitchen sink.

Within a few minutes, they had raked away all the gadgetry and the fluff. What remained on my tailgate were the basics.  Those items included: wire, end strain insulators, wood post insulators, wire tensioners and line posts. Add a wood corner post and you have 6 basic items.  Their comment was “that’s how we build high tensile electric fence in New Zealand”.

Yes, there are a handful of other items that you may need, including crimp sleeves and a few hand tools. But, the New Zealanders (and myself as well) hand knot most of our wire connections – thus, you don’t really need much else.

The point is: if you use the highest quality in the 6 basic items and power it up with a reliable “big daddy” energizer you will have a high quality fence that will service you’re needs (with low maintenance) for 30 to 40+ years (the wood posts will likely be the first component to go).

I feel very strongly that you will have a better fence if you stick to the basics. When you look at all the gadgets, most of them relate to information and convenience – very few of them relate to performance. In fact, many of them detract from your fences performance and actually add to your maintenance. One comment I have overheard many times is that, as Americans, we tend to “overbuild” the fence then we “under-power” it.  In other words; we hang a lot of useless “fluff” on our fences, then we utilize a wimpy energizer to power it.

In general I really don’t think that people (and especially Ag People) like to be sold. Instead, I think that people want to be informed and they want to be educated. That is what the purpose of this blog is all about; information and education. If and when you purchase our product it is ultimately because you decide that it is a good fit for you.

That said, I want to emphasize how important a quality line post is because nearly half of your electric fence budget will be consumed in line posts. Another 25% will be for high tensile wire.  So, in essence 3/4ths of your budget will be used on these two items. Make good choices on those two items and you’re off on the right foot.

What is the purpose or function of a line post?  For electric fencing it basically needs to stand erect, maintain the wire spacing’s and insulate the wire from the ground – without reason to fix broken or damaged parts. The informed and educated person will also recognize the fact that you will likely have some wildlife challenges, equipment bumps, ice storms, high winds, fallen trees or an array of un-natural attacks from nature itself.

In the case of your line posts; initial costs should be and will be a factor, but the informed and educated person will look also at how much maintenance and replacement costs and labor will be involved for the next 30, 40 or 50 years of the life of a high tensile electric fence.

Thus, an educated and informed consumer might consider looking for an insulated post that does not require a breakable plastic insulator. One that is also flexible enough to absorb some of the abuse mentioned above. If it is easy to handle and install then that is also a plus. The way I see it is that if you were happy with steel t-post and yellow insulators, then you probably wouldn’t be here to begin with…just say’in.

If you are building, planning to build or considering high tensile electric fencing; a little research will most likely put you into products that are a “good fit” for you.

Do you need “stuff & fluff” in order to have a top notch fence structure for your grazing system?  I think not – plain and simple. My advice? Concentrate on the BASICS and resist the FLUFF.

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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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