The electric fence device is the most important component of the electric fence, because it supplies the fence with the deterrent current and thus guarantees herding safety.
What is a fence device?
The electric fence device is the most important component of the electric fence. It supplies the pasture fence with deterrent current and in this way guarantees herding safety. The modern electric fence must be properly and professionally built and equipped with the correct current strength, which is harmless for the animals. This is ensured in the EU by strict animal protection regulations and is naturally also very close to the heart of the sensible animal owner himself.
How does a fence work?
The functional fencing of the pasture is created by connecting all the components of the fence in such a way that the electrical impulses are sent from the pasture fencing device via the fence connection cable into the conductor materials. The conductor materials conduct the electrical impulses over the entire electric pasture fence, so that the entire pasture fence is under electrical voltage.
If one of the animals guarded (and protected by the fence) wants to break out from the inside or a predatory species wants to break in from the outside, the respective animal receives a short but easily felt electric shock. This is caused by the fact that the whole construction forms an open circuit, which the intruder or escapee closes by touching it.
The electric fence consists of the following components:
According to your needs, you can choose fixed or mobile pasture fence posts. For example, there are quick-set and relocatable T-posts for fixing and as spacers for the electric conductor.
Pasture fence gates, alone or in multiples, serve as suitable entry gates to the pasture. There are suitable opening mechanisms for each species.
Pasture fence connectors or electric fence tensioners.
Conducting materials include pasture fence tape, rope, wire or stranded wire that carry electricity along the fence.
Fence insulators isolate the current from the posts and prevent the current from flowing into the ground.
Pasture fence ground stakes or ground rods and ground cables for grounding:
Pasture fence ground stakes, ground rods, and ground cables conduct current back to the pasture fence unit when the conductor is touched, creating a circuit.
If necessary, batteries, possibly other accessories for the electric fence and control devices.
Pasture fence device or electric fence device:
The pasture fence or electric fence device generates regular electrical pulses and is the actual heart of the fence.
The right electric fencing device ensures animal-friendly grazing
When first-time owners structure their grounds with electric fencing to provide good, varied pastures for their animals, there are always children or inexperienced neighbors who express outrage at the perceived cruelty to animals.
However, if all pertinent regulations (see source reference below) are followed, electric pasture fencing is more than animal welfare friendly for many reasons:
The electric fence does not confine the animals by means of massive, impassable barriers, but in addition to the visible barrier, it sets an invisible boundary of the highest effectiveness. The contact with the current is not dangerous, but so unpleasant and so consistently noticeable that every “sensible” animal avoids it even in a panic situation more than a solid fence, which is then sometimes run over or jumped over. An electric pasture fence can be built quickly and easily from specially designed, long-lasting but lightweight construction modules. In this way, the animals can be quickly allowed to roam in a safe environment. Otherwise, they would have to wait anxiously in the barn for a permanent fence to finally be completed.
When an electric fence is sized correctly and works reliably, it sends very short, intense electrical pulses of about 0.1 to 0.3 milliseconds (at intervals of about 1 to 1.4 seconds). Usually, however, it stops at a single pulse, to which the animal recoils, breaking the circuit, because it learns very quickly that it can avoid the shocks.
“Visible, safe, stable” are the magic words for safe confinement, which can often be realized faster and better by an electric pasture fence than by a complicated, fixed fence structure.
What are the key differences between the various types of electric fencing equipment?
Electric fencers are always manufactured by skilled professionals. Differences in design are therefore either negligible or manifest themselves in small differences in operability, which can provide a small advantage in a particular environment.
The crucial differences concern only the actual core functions: Supplying the fence with electrical energy and exactly the voltage needed to herd the harbored species. In colloquial terms, this is about how “strong” the electric fence is.
A distinction is made between charging energy (the electrical energy present in the electric fence device itself) and impulse energy. Pulse energy describes the actual power output, the strength of the electrical pulses emitted. The joule number printed on the electric fence unit indicates how strong the electrical impulse is that the animals feel when they come into contact with the fence. Due to the very short duration of the pulses of 0.1 to 0.3 milliseconds, each electric fence device ensures that the energy is always limited to the maximum value of 5 joules prescribed in the EU and is therefore safe for humans and animals. The duration and rhythm of the pulses is also regulated: the pause between individual pulses must be at least one second long. The pulse duration must remain below 10 milliseconds.
The voltage of the electric fence and the applied resistance correlate with the pulse energy. Resistance is kept as low as possible in both the electric fence device and the conductor materials (otherwise these components would draw too much current for “themselves” to provide consistent power to the fence).
The voltage of the pasture fence device is specified in volts. The minimum voltage recommended for a herd-proof electric fence is 2,000 – 3,000 volts (2 – 3 kV, at any point along the fence). The upper limit of herding voltage is given as 10,000 – 12,000 volts = 10 – 12 kV. Most of the offered electric fencers operate in the range between 8,000 – 12,000 volts. Electric fencers for special applications with reduced output between 2,000 and 4,000 volts are also available.
Which electric fence for which animals?
The most critical parameter in selecting an electric fence for a particular animal species is the strength of the short electrical pulse. The prescribed upper limit of 5 joules has already been mentioned. Below that, you as an animal owner have to choose from pulse strengths between 0.1 and 4.9 joules.
The voltage/voltage of the electric fence must first be selected to match the type of animal or pulse strength and the length of the fence: The more volts, the more powerful the device, the better the protection over the entire length of the herding fence.
There are some specific features to consider for each animal species:
(a) Cattle and cows:
A distinction must be made here between “normal cows”, which are rather easy to herd, and the range of robustly kept cattle to wild cattle, which are somewhat more difficult to herd. Mother cows also exhibit instinctive behavior that tends to place them in the hard-to-herd group.
Horses are large, short-haired, elegant or small, thick-skinned and robust, and as jumpers they often overcome amazing heights. If you want to buy a horse fence, you need to consider these factors when choosing the right horse fence. The top row of current-carrying material here should be installed no more than 10% below the height at withers of the largest horse, especially if stallions are being grazed. For foals, on the other hand, adjustments in the lower/middle range may be advisable.
Ponies are often grazed with horses. And even if they are allowed to form an exclusive group, the appropriate fencing equipment can be found in the selection shown for horses. However, please do not be tempted to choose lower power ratings for the small ponies from the outset: Ponies are smart and tough in every way. They often put away a blow of more power with a cheerful whinny – so choose the next stronger unit rather than “stroking too gently”.
Sheep wear thick wool most of the year. The hooves of the claws also return the electrical impulses poorly. You need to consider this and the easier skin contact after shearing when choosing a grazing fence for sheep.
Goats can climb, are terribly clever, and are very happy to break out and explore the environment on their own. With these “cheeky badgers”, consideration and delicacy could quickly become dangerous, which is why we recommend pasture fencing equipment with a pulse strength that instills respect for the fence in the goats right from the start.
f) Poultry (chickens, ducks, geese, etc.):
Poultry often appear very delicate, but plumage conducts poorly, while the thin legs covered with a layer of horn cause poor feedback of electronic impulses.
The fencing equipment for all other animals to be secured with electric fencing in a pasture can be selected according to these specifications. The general rule is that for short fences and small animals that are not necessarily constantly prone to escape, low voltages of 2000 volts or more are sufficient, and the required voltages increase with the size and wildness of the animals.
Other factors besides the type of animal play a role in selecting the strength of the pasture fence:
- Fence length
- Ground conditions
- Fence vegetation
- complexity of the fence structure (number of insulators and connectors)
- Conductor material
- Type of power supply (fixed connection, battery, solar technology)
In the descriptions of the fencers we offer, you will already find most of the information you need to choose the right fence for unusual species and/or unusually long or short fences. If you want to learn more about the topic, you can find some (official) sources below.
Useful accessories, installation and maintenance
An important element of any electric fence is the power supply of the electric fence unit, which should always be provided by the normal mains supply if a 230 volt connection is available at a distance of up to approx. 200 m. The power supply should always be provided by the mains supply. You will find the appropriate electric fence ground cables in the section accessories for electric fence devices as well as the electric fence battery devices, which you need if the direct power supply is not possible.
In addition, you will find everything you need for the installation of the electric fence – up to the warning signs, which have to be fixed at regular intervals. This installation must be done professionally and according to the operating instructions (you can find an overview of the most important points in the FAQ under the electric fencing equipment).
For this purpose, today there are numerous articles in the accessories that can help with the control and maintenance of the pasture fence beyond the device functions, e.g. alarm devices, fence testers and special safety boxes. While even the newest solar module can’t replace the legally required regular inspection of the fence system, which always includes personal sightings of the animals, it’s not the only thing that can. However, if you have nothing more to do than walk an exemplary herd-proof fence that rarely needs any work, this inspection will not only be much more enjoyable, but you will also be able to devote a correspondingly greater amount of time and attention to your animals.
If you also want to learn about the proper installation of a pasture fence, then also read our guide article “Electric fence properly install“. Here you will learn about the conductivity of fence wires, grounding and the electric fence device.
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