Appropriate fencing for each animal will give you the most flexibility and reliability available for grazing your stock. From birds to beef cattle get the right fencing for the animal from the start and use it for years.
Fencing is a big part of any livestock operation no matter the size. Everyone with animals wants to be able to move the animals to new areas when needed and keep them out of other places when necessary. Whether you have hundreds of acres or are fencing in the backyard, the basics apply to all.
We use Premier fencing on our farm everyday, year round. That is why the following recommendations are mostly Premier items, they work and they last. Other brands may be a bit cheaper (short term not long term) but none are better. Buy the best you can afford the first time.
How to compare fence chargers: Joules
There seem to be multiple numbers listed on the outside of the fence charger to try to get you to choose one over the other. All you need to know is joules. Joules is a measurement of energy, specifically energy transfer from one object to another over distance. More joules equals more ability to contain your animals.
Some of the cheaper fencers are just that, cheap. Don’t be fooled into buying a “deal” that does not do the work when you get it home. Be sure you are accurately comparing the ability of the fencer to do the job by looking at the joules listed.
Fence Chargers That We Recommend
Any of the fence chargers listed will work for any of the animals that need electrified fence.
Electric fence charger
The Premier IntelliShock 20 (Plug In) Energizer Kit is a 2.0 joule charger with cable, ground rod and clamps, and a fence tester included. This is the kit to buy if you are just getting started with livestock, or if you are looking to add rotational grazing options for your stock. This is all the stuff you need to set up the power for your electric fencing or netting.
Don’t need the kit? Just get the Premier IntelliShock 20 (Plug In) energizer separately, but be sure to get the 2.0 joule model.
We use an electric charger. It is reliable and it works great to power all of our fence lines. Electric chargers can power more fence lines or netting rolls than solar fencers, electric chargers just have more juice.
Solar fence charger
Consider the Premier IntelliShock 60 Fence Charger if you are looking for a solar fence charger. We do not currently have a solar charger, but it is definitely high on my wants list to get one soon.
We have one fencer, so anything that needs power on the other side of the farm means wires run in odd places to power that additional fence, like the netting keeping the livestock out of the the garlic patch. A solar fencer would be perfect here.
We have a neighbor that has raises and sells show lambs and he rents a barn that doesn’t have electricity. He just uses netting and a solar fencer. It seems to work great.
Battery powered fence charger
The Premier IntelliShock 20 (Battery) Electric Fence Energizer is the battery powered fence charger to get. This charger has 2.0 joules of power and comes with clamps, ground rods and a fence tester. You will need to buy a 12V deep cycle battery to power this charger.
For some areas solar is not a great option and/or electric is not feasible so consider a battery powered fencer. We had one of these ages ago and it worked well, just be sure to monitor the life of the battery!
Portable Electric Fence That We Recommend
We have always used Premier electric netting as our portable fencing. This stuff lasts and lasts and if you follow the directions (directions are easy to follow), is pretty quick to set up and take down. If you don’t follow the directions the netting will tangle up and you will be frustrated.
All electric fencing will require a fence charger to work. The best chargers are listed above.
Always have the fence electrified. At best, with an unpowered fence the livestock will learn to escape, at worst they will learn to try to push through the fence and get tangled up in it and die (it happens fast, both the problem behavior and the death). Keep the fence hot so they don’t learn bad habits.
We use Premier ElectroNet Sheep and Goat Netting for our sheep. It keeps them in and lasts for quite a few years. This netting allows you to move the sheep into all kinds of shapes and sizes of areas and feel secure that they will remain in the fence.
For cattle fence use Premier IntelliTwine 2.25. Cattle are one of the easiest animals to fence in with electric. They will stay behind a single strand of electrified wire, once they are familiar with electric fence.
Get the big roll, it gives you more distance for your money and will allow you to cut off part of the roll if you want to subdivide the area so you can rest the grass.
Premier EzeReel XL 2.0 It will make your life easier if you also get a reel to roll up the polywire before you move it. This is not mandatory, but we have went for years without one and always end up with a tangled mess. If you plan to move this fence line get the reel.
Patriot 50-Pack Sentinel Tread in Post are 49″ posts that are pretty sturdy and have a built in cleat at the bottom so you push them into the ground with your foot-especially handy when the ground is hard. With these posts you do not need insulators, they are built in. These are the white posts, (there are also black available), but stick with white since the white post is easier to see when laying in the grass when you are moving fence.
Another useful feature is that if the wire touches the post it doesn’t matter since the post is plastic, unlike a metal post that will ground out your fence (so you have no power and have to run around testing the fence looking for the problem). Keep in mind that all corners will need a secure anchor like a T-post, since the wire will pull the small posts to to the side dropping down the fence.
You will probably want a fence tester, consider the 9900 Volts Farmer’s Very Useful Tool Digital Electric Fence Tester . This tester allows you to see how good of a charge your fence is putting out while keeping you shock free! Some testers just light up if there is power, but I prefer one that shows a digital number so you can get an idea of how much power is getting to the wire right where you are testing it.
The shocking ability of a fence varies with weather (especially very dry or lots of snow), weed pressure (weeds touching the wire) and length of fence you are powering. It’s a good idea to keep on top of this so you can head off any problems before the first escape attempt.
Premier Poultry Net Electric Fence 48″ poultry netting is made specifically for birds. All of the strands are electric, both horizontal and vertical (vs, the sheep netting which is just electrified on the horizontal strands). It might be possible for super lazy birds stay contained with the regular netting, but don’t count on it since most will not (most of our birds are loose and run through our sheep netting all with ease).
There is a cheaper version of the poultry netting available (I think it is yellow) but before you go with it read the description carefully. It says it does not preform as well in dry conditions as the netting suggested above.
If you want to graze multiple species together, great! Just be sure to use the poultry fencing for everyone, it will work just fine for the bigger stuff as well.
Premier ElectroStop Goat and Sheep Electric Fence netting is designed specifically for goats.
Goats tend to be more challenging to fence than most other livestock. That means you need to get the right gear from the beginning. Goats are creative, agile and tenacious so get a fence that can keep up with them and keep your shrubs (or your neighbor’s shrubs!) safely out of eating range.
Use Premier IntelliTwine 2.25 for pigs. This is the biggest roll, which I like since you can always cut it and is the best price per foot. If that’s way to much length for your space just get one of the smaller rolls. Before you go too small though, measure out your likely area and plan to have some extra length available for when you change plans/areas.
You will also need Patriot 50-Pack Sentinel Tread in posts. (These are the same recommendations as for cattle fencing.) Pig fence is placed lower to the ground than cattle fence, but it is still the same polywire and posts.
Pigs are actually super easy to fence. Once they are familiar with the electric fence they will stay behind a single electrified strand. Remember to keep it off the ground a bit so they can’t cover it up when they root around.
If you are more comfortable with a netting, I have to admit netting does look more secure than a single wire consider Premier Pig QuikFence Electric Netting. It is specifically designed for use with pigs, since it does not have the wire running along the ground (the rooting of the pigs will put dirt clods on regular netting and ground out your fence). Pig netting also comes in a kit with the energizer, tester, corner posts and a line of netting. If you would prefer the kit click Pig Quikfence Netting kit.
Portable Electric Fence
There are two types of fencing, portable and permanent. Generally the portable is what we are looking into here, since it’s the easiest to start up with. Portable fencing is the electric netting and polywire that is powered off of a fencer. The fencer can be electric, battery or solar powered.
The fencer works by sending an intermittent pulse of electricity though the fencing. The pulse is rhythmic, once every few seconds. The pulse travels through the wire looking to “escape” out of the wire through a path of less resistance.
This is why when you or your animals touch the fence you get a shock, the electricity wanted to escape the wire and you are an easy exit. This is also why all of the posts and insulators are plastic, since the electric shock won’t travel through the plastic it stays in the wire instead.
If you have a great source of permanent fencing already in place, as long as it will work for your type of livestock, just use what you have or upgrade it a bit to work.
A few notes regarding permanent fencing:
- If the permanent fence is not electric at all (for example- woven wire) the taller stock, like cattle and horses, will reach over the top of the fence and mash it down. This is easily fixed by running a single strand of electrified wire across the top of the fence to keep them from pushing or leaning.
- Poultry will hop through or over most any permanent fencing. Use netting to keep them in or a very tall run with tight wire spacing so they can not possibly shimmy out.
- Pigs need a single strand of electric wire to keep them away from permanent fence.
- High tensile fence that is not electrified will not keep in curious and/or adventurous sheep and goats, they will slip right through the wires