Is An Electric Fence Safe For My Animals?

Electric fences are a widely used method of containment in the UK often used by farmers, horse and livestock owners. As a method of containment they are superior to your standard post and wire fence due to a combination of cost, ease of maintenance and portability, but those unfamiliar with electric fences often think of Jurassic Park and picture young Timmy flying through the air, this encourages the perception that electric fences are dangerous, even life threatening; but are they? Well, there are so many animal lovers now using them that they must be safe, right?

In order to answer this, lets first take a look at how an electric fence works.

Your standard electric fence will be constructed from a number of posts, some conductive wire, rope or tape and a battery or mains power supply. The fence will be earthed at one end thus creating an open circuit. An electric current is pulsed around the fence passing through the electric wire, rope or tape until an animal touches it. By touching the wire an animal closes the open circuit. The current then passes through the animal and gets discharged into the ground, resulting in a mild shock for the animal in question.

So there’s the science, now what about the strength of that shock? Is it the kind of shock that could drop a cow? Well, the voltage of an electrical fence can be tempered to suit the size and strength of your animal. So for instance, it is safe to have a fence of 3,000 volts for a horse whereas anything up to 5,000 volts is safe for sheep or goats. Either way, the shock delivered to the animal is designed to teach that animal not to touch the fence again, not to harm it. The sensation delivered to the animal is unpleasant but not painful or overly powerful, farmers wouldn’t use an electric fence if it gave their sheep an afro every time they brushed against it. In fact, an animal is far more likely to hurt itself on a traditional post and wire fence than on an electrified fence.

Now for the other side of the story, yes its true that if the fence isn’t managed responsibly it could deliver a heftier charge, but a responsible and knowledgeable fence owner will not want to injure their animals any more than a human, and electric fence controllers are very easy to operate. In fact, the vast majority of electrified fences are even safe during rain storms. Strict safety standards also ensure that fences are safe to use.

So to summarise, electrical fences deliver a brief, safe shock that will not injure your animal, but will teach it to respect and avoid the fence thereby making it easier to contain. The same applies to any vermin that attempt to breach your fence in search of a meal. Most fences are built to strict safety standards and will not harm humans or animals.

For information’s sake, here is a list of guided voltages for different types of animals:

  • Horses: 3,000 Volts
  • Cattle: 3,000 Volts
  • Pigs: 3,000 Volts
  • Deer: 3,000 – 4,000 Volts
  • Sheep / Goats: 3,000 – 5,000 Volts
  • Bulls: 4,000 Volts

What to Consider When Buying Electric Fencing For Your Property

Electric fencing is used as a barrier to prevent animals or even people from escaping a property and also stops them from entering. The shock voltages of this kind of fence can be classified as moderate, painful and lethal. A person that owns this kind of fencing should get a proper permit from the local office and have it properly inspected and classified. The energiser can convert low power to generate it into a bigger quantity that radiates an electric shock on animals and humans. An electric fence, by rule of thumb, should not kill people or animals. Its main purpose is to shock them and keep them away from the property. The advantage of an electrical fence is that it can be seen, therefore giving advance warning. Moderate electricity and in some cases, an alarm, is also provided.

Your fencing efficiency depends on how much knowledge you have in regards to installing any kind of fence, if you are choosing the DIY option. Human error is the most common reason these electric fences fail to work. Plan ahead and make detailed references on the materials you need to use. Power cords, ground circuits, wiring and all other material installation should get proper attention. Bad weather can contribute to its inefficiency. The design should cover endurance in changing climates and wind movements.

There are three classifications of the type of fencing that provides a shock of electricity. They include the following:

Agriculture – Electric fencing that is used in agriculture is a simple standard smooth wiring that is installed all around the field. The disadvantage of this kind of fence is its potential to lose the whole units shock, if the current is disrupted. Unsuspecting individuals can also be a victim of this kind of fence.

Wild animals – An electric fence for wild animals is very useful. They’re normally found around airports, preventing animals from crossing the runway, or private properties where you need to fend off trespassers and animals that are potentially harmful to your crops and livestock.

Security – An electric fence that is used for security is classified into two stages, namely lethal and non lethal. A lethal fence is necessary on closed borders and in high security prisons that keep potentially high-risk prisoners. Non lethal types provide protection that prevents trespassers on government properties, warehouses, military bases and properties.

An electric fence is not only beneficial for the shock it provides, but they may also be useful in order to detect intruders. Many of these fences have warning signs and warning signals that will sound to alert the presence of the fence and the potential of danger.

In order to make your electric fence last, make sure you protect it from possible lightning flashes. Lightning protection does not offer one hundred percent immunity, rather, it minimises shock damage caused by the currents from lightning. Lightning strikes are severe and can be very damaging.

Electric Fencing can disrupt nearby telephone communications and this can cause static performance of data connections. Charged wires should be kept away from touching shrubs, leaves or trees to keep its “shock” efficiency. Proper installation should start from your ground circuits. If you would rather leave it to the professionals, then consider looking for a reputable installer.

Keeping Electric Fencing to a Safe User Level

Many people are still very cautious about using electric fencing to protect their land or premises. As a result they find their property or land comes under regular attack from unwanted intruders as they are able to easily by-pass the current barriers in front of them. What these people fail to understand is electric fencing can be kept to a safe level, deterring both intruders and their livestock from crossing the barriers, without causing any lasting harm to either. Many livestock owners use these fences on a day to day basis to safeguard their animals from potential predators and to stop their livestock from escaping. Electric fencing can be kept to a safe user level and it is important if you are installing this fencing around your property then you adhere to the advice provided.

It is important to understand that these fences can cause serious harm when set to full charge. Most accidents that people hear about are caused by a fully charged fence. The owner has either ignored the advice given or accidentally switched the power to full. Regardless, adjusting the settings so the fence is not fully charged, you will deliver an electric shock that is moderate to the trespasser or livestock trying to move across the barrier. Providing regular checks on the voltage levels to make sure it hasn’t been switched to an unprecedented level is very important.

When installing an electric fence around your premises it is wise to put up warning signs alerting trespassers of the potential danger ahead as well as other users of the premises. Hopefully this will deter them from entering if they are uninvited.

When installing your fence it is important that you fully understand what you are doing. If for any reason you don’t understand what to do, speak to an electric fence contractor and they will come around to install your fence. They will also test it to make sure it is working correctly.

Electric fencing should never be tampered with or modified before the manufacturer has been consulted. There are many different electric fences on the market and each one has been specifically modified for a particular purpose. Altering the fences composition can affect how it works. In the case of an emergency it is essential that a set of instructions are left near to the power source to allow anyone who needs to disconnect to do so.