Electric netting, it’s all over the place! Why use it, what makes folks put up netting rather than putting up a permanent fence?
If you’ve got animals, you need some sort of fence. Is electric netting worth the money?
Basic electric netting costs start at $0.82 per linear foot. Electric netting must be used with an energizer, which will cost between $150-500. Electric netting is portable fence, ideal for sheep, goats and poultry, but not needed for cattle.
There are many variations of electric netting, we use the ElectroNet 9/12/35 single spike. If you have goats, super dry conditions, poultry, want to hammer in the posts, etc., you’ll need a different netting than what we use.
However, this article will still give you a start on the basics and help you figure out if electric netting will work for your animals and you!
|Animal or situation
|Electric netting suitability
|Frequently moving sheep, goats or poultry to new areas
|Have the ability to get power to the fence
|Need fence for cattle or horses only
|Need to fence multiple species including sheep, goats or poultry
|Need a permanent fence line
|Need to keep and “work” animals in a small area
|no, it will not hold
|Need an inexpensive fence put up quickly
|Expect a fence to last “forever”
|no, lasts up to 10 yrs
In order to figure out if electric netting will work for you, you need to:
- know what animal you are fencing
- decide if this fence to be permanent or portable
- how will you put power on this fence?
Look at the chart above and think about your specific needs. Electric netting may be perfect for you, or it may be a waste of your money. It all depends on what you and your animals need.
|Cost per linear foot of fence
|9/12/35 electric netting 164′, single spike
|woven wire fence with wooden posts
|$1.50 (materials only)
|5 wire high tensile fence with 30′ post spacing
|$0.63 (materials only)
|welded wire fence with T posts
|cattle panel fence with T posts
Electric netting costs less up front than permanent fence
Electric netting is an inexpensive way to immediately get started using a fence for your animals. Permanent fence lines take more money to buy and build and take longer to put in, however, once they are done will last.
The cost of electric netting varies by which one you get (which depends upon your needs), but we’ll use the netting we buy, since I know the numbers well.
The netting we use is 164′ for $135, which is $0.82 per foot.
If you want the complete scoop on the specific netting we use, read my article ElectroNet 9/12/35.
Woven wire (materials only) is $10-12 per 8 ft. post and $165 per 330 ft. roll of woven wire. You’ll also need a few miscellaneous items like extra wire, to tighten the brace, and staples, but we’ll leave those out of this estimate.
Posts can be spaced 8-12 feet apart and you’ll need 3 posts to make the brace at each end of the line.
We’ll say you are putting up a 324′ fence, so you’ll use the whole roll. (Why not all 330 feet? Because you’ll need some of the wire to wrap around the post at the beginning. I doubt it’s 6 feet, but it will be some.)
So, the fence line will be 324′, which will take:
- 2 8ft. braces, containing 3 posts each- total 6 posts
- a post every 12 foot of line in between braces, 324-16=308 feet of fence between braces, 308 divided by 12 feet between posts=25.6 posts-total 26 posts
6 posts for the braces + 26 posts for the line is 32 posts total for that run of 324 feet. If you are getting your posts for $10 each, that’s $320 in posts.
$320 for posts + $165 for the wire is $485 for a 324 foot fence, which is $1.50 a foot. Remember, this is just for materials, you also have to install posts and wire or pay for someone to do it for you.
Now we are getting somewhere! Netting is $0.82 per foot and woven wire is $1.50 per foot, materials only. Since netting lasts 10 years but woven wire lasts 30, we are not quite done.
3 x $0.82=$2.46 per foot for netting for 30 years, while the woven wire materials cost stays the same.
Over the useful life of the woven wire, it is less expensive than the netting, if you are talking about materials only.
However, like with most things, this is not as simple as it looks because of two things:
- The upfront cost of woven wire is high, all costs (including labor) have to be paid to get the fence installed. There should not be any maintenance costs after this, but it is a chunk of change to start with.
- There are a huge variety of electric netting options. We use the basic one for sheep, which also happens to be the cheapest per foot. There are other nettings available that have different functions and cost more per foot.
Netting costs more than permanent electric fence, like high tensile
High tensile fence is cheaper than electric netting.
You could also keep your sheep or goats behind a high tensile or permanent line electric fence. The catch here is will it work? Some folks seem to have good luck with this type of fence, others don’t.
We had some sheep on a solar charger on high tensile fence and they were getting out all of the time! The worst of this is, we didn’t live at this acreage, so the sheep were out 30 minutes away. It stunk!
If we had cattle at this property, I’m sure they would have been fine with a high tensile fence. But we didn’t, we had sheep and they were a mess with this fence.
I’m not against high tensile type fences, I’m saying make sure your animals will stay in them once you build it!
Let’s say you think it will work, you’ll need posts every 30 feet plus 5 or more strands of fence, we’ll use 5.
High tensile wire is $120 for 4,000 ft. you need 5 wires, so that’s 800 feet of fence per roll of wire.
You’ll need to use a double brace at the end of each line, which is 5 posts and 16′ long. So, the end braces total 32′ and 10 posts.
This makes the rest of the fence line 768 ‘ but we’ll go with 760′ since you have to wrap these posts, as well. 760’ divided by 30 = 25.3, so we’ll use 26.
26 line posts + 10 brace posts = 36 posts, which is $360.
$360 + $120 = $480 in materials cost for the 760 foot long 5 strand fence, which is $0.63 per foot for high tensile (materials only).
Using the electric netting numbers from above, $2.46 per foot, you can see that high tensile fence is by far less expensive over the 30 year life of the fence. Don’t forget installation costs!
Here is a great guide to high tensile fence uses and installation by Kencove.com.
Electric netting cost compared to non electric, moveable fence
An electric netting alternative would be 2×4 welded wire fence or cattle panels, both of which need supported by T posts.
Your other option would be non electric fence that is moveable, like a 2×4 welded wire or cattle panels. Both of these require T post support, but would be able to be installed and moved with very little equipment, just a T post pounder!
Welded wire would cost $70 for 100 foot of wire, plus you’d need a post every 8 feet or so, including one at the start of the fence line, which would be 14 T posts which are 6′ tall and $5.00 each, for a total post cost of $70.
$70 + $70 for the wire is $140 for 100 foot of fence, which is $1.40 per foot. Of course, you’d need a post pounder and you would have to install the fence, as well.
Another plus for this type of fence is that it would be a 30 year fence, as well.
Cattle panel fence would cost $27.00 for 16 foot, plus you would need a $5.00 T post. That’s $32.00 for 16 feet, which is $2.00 per foot. This would also be a 30 year+ fence.
While this is more than the welded wire, it is also more secure.
Either way, both the welded wire and the cattle panel fence are viable alternatives to a woven wire fence, especially if you have to pay to have the woven wire installed or are buying posts at $10-12 each.
Electric netting is great for portable fence
Electric netting is a secure, portable fence.
The reason we use netting is that with netting we get secure containment for our main flock of ewes that can move as the sheep need more grass.
So for the initial amount we spend on netting, we get fencing all over the farm, all we do is move the netting, as needed. We do not have to buy more fence as the sheep move to a new area, we move the fence, too.
One of the best things about netting is that you get a reliable fence that can provide year round fencing for your stock with a pretty low initial cost per foot. Don’t forget to figure in the energizer, as well.
If you have an area that is going to be tough to put up a permanent fence on, or you don’t want to put up a permanent fence because you do not own the land, then netting is a great option, especially for sheep and goats.
Electric netting will need replaced by 10 years
Electric netting doesn’t last forever! With good care, each roll of netting should last 10 years. That’s the first negative of netting use.
The second drawback of netting is if you are using the netting in an area with a lot of snags or potential snags. It will drive you crazy dragging the netting through an area like that!
The third drawback of netting is that it is more expensive than the less expensive permanent fencing methods, like high tensile. Netting also has a higher 30 year cost per foot than a permanent fence does.
Not all sheep (or goats) need netting, ours do
I also need to point out that not all sheep need netting. Some folks online and on videos are using one or two wires to keep in their sheep. If your sheep will stay in one or two wires, do it! That’s going to save you money and work!
Our sheep do not stay behind a single or double strand fence, so we use netting. If they would stay in a single strand, I would happily use it!
Electric netting has some challenges for daily use
Using electric netting is a daily or every other day commitment to moving your animals.
The first challenge for daily use of netting is the doing it part. It’s not hard at all, actually I enjoy being out with the sheep and moving fence, but it does require getting out there and getting it done.
It can be hot, rainy, cold, windy or I can be feeling tired, doesn’t matter, sheep still need to move.
The other challenge can be terrain, by which I mean your pasture itself:
- Do you have a lot of snag potential, like briars or small tree stumps or weeds that are tough enough to catch the netting as you walk by carrying it?
- Do you have a plan for knocking down the grass where you’ll put the netting? I know of folks, driving on the line, mowing it and cutting it with a string trimmer. We usually stomp it down, either way, you’ll need to do something.
- How are you moving the netting to a new location? We just carry it, but sometimes that can be tough, especially when it is hot! If you have an ATV with a rack, you are all set!
Our daily work with having sheep on netting involves daily or every other day moves, which take 30-45 minutes each move, checking water, checking the sheep themselves (usually during the move).
The sheep and the netting should also be checked after a storm, wind or rain. Sometimes the posts can lean in wet ground or with enough wind, you’ll want to reposition those to upright before the sheep notice the easy exit!
Electric netting works great for frequently moving grazing animals
Electric netting is ideal for anyone who frequently moves sheep, goats or poultry grazing/foraging areas.
We use netting on our sheep every day. It’s the best thing we have found to keep them in, aside from permanent woven wire fence.
We have our main flock of ewes on netting 365 days a year. In the winter, when the ewes eat the stockpiled grass in their winter area, they are fed haylage until we start moving them again in the spring, which for us is around April 1st.
The flock moves every day to every other day, depending upon the grass in the area of the move and if we need to get the flock moved somewhere specific, like to the barn for deworming.
This flock is completely surrounded by electric netting for most moves, we don’t have perimeter fence on most of the farm. On the places we do have perimeter fence, or just a nice woven wire division line we use it as part of the move.
Another option for working with netting is to use the netting in combination with a permanent fence.
You can divide off the permanent fenced paddock into sections and use the netting to move the animals through, so they don’t have access to the entire field all at once.
Electric netting is not needed for cattle or horses
Netting is not needed for larger stock, like cattle or horses. These guys are tall enough that a strand or two of wire or polybraid will keep them in a pasture just fine and would be less expensive per foot.
Netting is overkill for cattle and horses, unless, of course, you are multispecies grazing, then you need to fence in the hardest to fence animal. If your animal mix is cattle and sheep or goats, the hardest to fence are the sheep or goats.
Netting needs an energizer to have power
Electric netting must be used with power. Never use netting without power, animals will get stuck in it or learn to get out of your fence!
You’ll power the netting with an energizer. You may also see the words fencer, fence charger, etc., they all refer to the power unit that puts the shock in the fence.
Energizers will cost you anywhere from $150-500 depending upon what you need. There are more expensive models, but if you are just getting started, something in this price range will probably do it for you.
I mentioned power, as well. Plugging the fence into an outlet is the cheapest way to power your fence. However, if you do not have that option, solar or battery will work with adaptable fencers, as well.
Premier 1, How Electric Fence and Netting Work, electric netting lasts 10 years