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Fast Facts – Electric Fence Safety

By   /  August 18, 2014  /  1 Comment

These safety tips come to us from Rob DeClue of the Chenango County Soil and Water Conservation District and the New York Grazing Coaltion’s Grazette newsletter.

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Electric fences can offer a relatively low cost option to animal control and permit flexibility in the use of temporary or portable fencing material.  However, misapplied, in certain situations they can pose a hazard to livestock and possibly people.  Simple common sense steps and appropriate components can significant reduce the chance of injury.  Below are some pointers:
Electric-Fence-Shock-Warning-Sign-K-9806• Never connect more than one energizer to the same fence.
• Do not climb over, through, or under live fences; use established gates for passage.
• Be especially careful to avoid body contact with live strands at head, neck, or back.
• Keep children, in particular those at the crawling stage, away from all electric fences.
• Along public roads, rights-of-way, outside property boundaries, farmsteads or other areas where the public is likely to first encounter electric fence:
– place warning signs on fence spaced no further than 200 feet apart.
– increase visibility of these reaches (e.g., polymer coated, wider strands)
– install energy limiter at feeds for these reaches
• Never electrify barbed wire.
• Select the lowest output energizer setting or model to achieve adequate animal control (i.e., keep electrical load from vegetation & failed components to minimum practical rather than opting for an overpowered energizer).
• Where electrified offset strands are installed, place eight inches (8″) or more from non-electrified portions of fence.
• Do not connect earth (a.k.a., ground) terminal of energizer to or within sixty-five feet (65′) of any other grounding system.
• Install, clearly label, and instruct all staff on cut-out switches at crucial locations to enable quickly shutting off pulses to all or sections of the fence in case of emergency.
• Consider non-electric fence alternatives in tight areas (e.g., barnyards) where livestock have difficulty in backing away from or are likely to be pushed into fence.
Check with local or state codes and regulations which may dictate stricter requirements than suggested above.
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About the author

editor and contributor

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

1 Comment

  1. Clint Thompson says:

    Great article on fence safety. However the problem with focusing on safety alone sometimes undermines the job that needs to get done in the first place. Unless the fence is quite small or short in distance I would disagree with the comment about minimal powered energizers being adequate. In order for the fence to work the energizer must be powerful enough to kill vegetation as it grows into contact with the wire. This becomes even more important in wet weather when the dry vegetation becomes wet paths to ground and the fence is no longer hot enough to do it’s job.

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