Sheep Fence: Knotted Mesh or Electronic Mesh, Which is Better?
Electric fence for sheep, strand fence or pasture nets? How high must a sheep fence be? How do I set up an electric net steadily? Which fences are suitable for lambs? How much electricity does a sheep fence need? Our sheep fence guide is aimed at hobby sheep farmers & those who want to become one.
Fixed fence or mobile fence for sheep?
The optimum would be: both. In summer sheep can be kept in the typical electronic fences, but what about in winter? That’s why we also recommend having a permanently fenced sheep enclosure including a shelter or barn. We will briefly introduce you to both options:
Fixed fence for sheep
- with sheep wire (knotted mesh).
Stable, durable and safe, that is a sheep fence made of knot mesh. At the same time you have a good outdoor fence in which you can even put a stable, or a shelter. You can get additional security with a row of electric fence from the inside (approx. 50cm in front of the knotted mesh fence, tightly stretched 3mm strand at approx. 35cm height above ground). However, the construction is very complex, the material is usually more expensive in comparison, and a building permit may be required.
- As an electric fence with stranded wire or wire
On a permanently installed electric fence for sheep you need sturdy posts (wooden posts, T-posts or recycled posts), the appropriate insulators, 3mm round strand or wire, a gate solution and of course the appropriate power supply. Sheep are fenced in the heights 90 to 108 cm. Depending on the size of the sheep, you put 3 to 4 rows of strand, if you have small lambs, another row of fence is placed near the ground between them.
Mobile fence for sheep, temporary sheep pasture, alternate pasture
- with strand
The temporary electric fence with strand for sheep differs only slightly from the fixed fence with strand: fixed posts are needed only in the corners, at the entrance, or in the case of longer pastures also along the route approx. every 50 meters. Here, the 152cm high T-posts, angular steel posts (splint insulators), or the metal corner posts (metric insulators) are the most suitable, because they are easy to move and still stand stable. The rest of the sheep enclosure can be set with plastic stakes or fiberglass stakes.
- with electronic net for sheep, pasture net keeping
The most widely used variant of pasture fencing in hobby sheep farming are the electronic nets for sheep. These are available in heights 90 – 120 cm, in different colors and different mesh sizes. These electrifiable herding nets have plastic stakes integrated in the net. There are sheep nets with 14 to 20 stakes per 50 m net. If you want to build a stable enclosure, you should always use a sheep net with enough stakes. Net fences are quick & easy to erect, provide very good herding protection with an adequate power supply, and can also be easily relocated – ideal for temporary rotational grazing.
Tip: Imagine trying to climb over an electrified sheep net and getting electrocuted in a vulnerable spot. We recommend using our net door for comfortable access into your sheep enclosure.
How much electricity must be on a sheep fence?
In one sentence, enough power to get enough herding security for your sheep. How strong your device needs to be depends on several factors. The perimeter length of the fence, soil conditions, and possibly the breed of sheep will determine the strength of the device. Sheep with a lot of wool require more power than thin-furred, or shorn sheep. A dry, sandy soil conducts worse than soft, or boggy soils. And a long fence may be better served by a stronger unit.
Two examples as a guide:
A 400m long electric fence with 3 rows of conductive strand, free of vegetation, soft, boggy soil and sheared sheep still gets by with a fairly small power unit (up to 1 joule charge strength).
If you set 400m sheep fence now with electron nets, on dry, sandy soil and woolly sheep, you need a much stronger device and more grounding stakes. (from 3 joules) Electronic nets should not be operated with 9 volt devices, these are too weak.
How do I set up a sheep fence made of electronic nets in a stable way?
Take the new sheep net out of the box and roll it out to the first corner following the desired course of the enclosure. Now set the net up to the corner. Then roll out the net further so that you can build up the sheep fence of electronic nets piece by piece. When the sheep fence is up, check again that nothing is sagging. Otherwise, reposition some stakes to get more tension.
Tip: If the net sags too much in the corners, tension it outwards with a thin line.
Then connect the fence cable to a live row in the electronic net. Ideally, the fence cable is connected to the small terminal on the first or last post.
Which fence is suitable for lambs?
Each of the sheep fences shown here is also suitable for lambs. For fixed fences, just make sure the knot meshes are tight enough at the bottom, and for a strand fence, make sure the strand spacing is small enough to prevent lamb slippage. Electronic nets also come in models with smaller mesh sizes at the bottom.
General tips on sheep fencing
Please do not keep sheep with horns in electronic nets, because if the horns get tangled in the live net and the sheep panic from the electric shocks, they will not only tear down the fence, but will be in serious danger if they cannot free themselves.
Wolf protection in sheep is a very popular topic. Depending on the state, there are regulations, or guidelines. To what extent it affects you and your sheep, we can not judge from here. That is why we can only talk about the topic in general.
If you look at the wolf more closely, it quickly becomes clear: he approaches cautiously, secures with his nose on the ground and scans first. In “risk areas” protective fences (whether knot fences, or sheep nets) up to 120 cm height have proven themselves. In the case of knotted fences, rows of electric fences are placed in front of the fence from the outside; in the case of sheep nets, plastic flutter tapes can be knotted into the top row piece by piece; they provide additional visual and acoustic deterrence.
A good, strong electric fence at ground level and chest height of the wolves provides the best protection. If the wolf gets a hefty electric shock at the first approach, it will be driven away permanently.
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