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Ultimate Portable Electric Fence System: Gallagher SmartFence Amazes

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief


Tags: electric fence, portable fence, livestock,

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.As useful and flexible as it is, portable electric fencing can be a bit of a tangle when it comes to implementation – but that no longer needs to be, thanks to the new SmartFence system from Gallagher.  Anyone who has lugged electric netting or attempted to manage an armload of step-in posts, two or more spools of wire and a solar charger while walking across the pasture knows that setting up and taking down portable electric fencing can be vexing on the very best of days. Thankfully, the innovative folks at Gallagher felt our pain and created the SmartFence to kill it. Imagine my excitement when I first learned of this “secret” new product a few months ago. Imagine my joy when a SmartFence system arrived at my farm a couple of weeks ago and well ahead of its North American debut.

SmartFence Corral

I’ve been making use of portable electric fencing for as many years as I’ve had grazing animals and poultry in my care – and that’s a lot of years now. I’ve struggled with various reel designs and different kinds of conductors – I even once welded up a 2-wheeled cart that featured compartments for step-in posts, chargers and batteries and self-winding spindles for handling up to three spools of poly wire. When I tore into the SmartFence box, I was practically trembling with anticipation – what I found was a beautifully engineered and self-contained 330-foot long, 4-reel, 4-conductor portable electric fence that had all the posts, anchors, guys neatly organized in a package that is as intuitive to operate as it is effective at controlling stock (and dogs). I knew just where I wanted to use the fence first – to enclose a lush patch of red clover and fescue grass that the sheep had been reaching through their pasture fence to get at.

SmartFence VS Frustration

Setting up the fence is as easy as loosening the tension on the integrated reel system, setting the anchor post (I tied its top to an existing fence) and walking. Since the conductors are already threaded through the posts the poly wire played out easily and without so much as the hint of a tangle. It took me about 3 minutes to setup and position a couple hundred feet of  4-strand electric fence – yes, the sheep were quite excited when I opened their pasture gate. Three days later I reversed the process and moved the fence to a location that I was planning to mow but have decided to let the sheep graze down instead – all thanks to the SmartFence.

 SmartFence VS Tangle

Gallagher’s SmartFence system comes with an excellent set of  instructions, but being the guy that I am, I cast them aside and just got down to fencing. I credit the company with making the SmartFence’s design so intuitive that setup and takedown are virtually foolproof operations. I have gone back to read the instructions (I read manuals and instruction sheets before bed) and found them to be clear and even learned a couple of tricks for stabilizing the end post that I didn’t intuit on my own.

SmartFence All Wound Up

Folks that know me know that I am quick to sing the praises of electric fencing. I think it is easier on the land, the wildlife, the stock and the humans. Sure there is a wee bit more maintenance with electric fencing due to issues relating to short circuits and the like, but the maintenance is easy work compared with high-tensile wire fence or barbed wire fencing. And with a combination of permanent and portable electric fence, you have infinitely endless possibilities for managing the animal flow around your place. The SmartFence represents a paradigm shift in how we will deal with portable fencing well into the future and is every bit as important a technological leap as were the invention of the low-impedance solar charger and step-in plastic posts.

Gallagher SmartFence with sheep

The SmartFence was released in New Zealand earlier this year and has received reviews every bit as rave as my own. Look for this innovative new product ($259.99 MSRP) at your local Gallagher dealer sometime this fall.


Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

elizabethsagarminaga
3/9/2015 12:20:50 AM

I visited your link and was very much glad to see this beautiful project. I appreciated your insightful ideas.It is well said that People use fence for both safety and security purpose and for beautification as well. I also deal with fencing supplies and love to read your topics and I think your insight will definitely inspire to every homeowners.You can get more information on fencing at http://www.californiafenceco.com/products.html. Nice share.


hank will_2
7/12/2010 8:31:30 AM

Hey Dave -- I love those weed burners, but the newer low-impedence chargers are really the best. One of my friend's dad could hold onto the electric fence without even flinching and he would take great glee in grabbing you on the shoulder while also touching the fence ... or shaking your hand, etc. Right now the SmartFence is limited to 330 feet. If it got much longer it would be tough to carry without some little dolly system. I have suggested that they consider a longer version that is build into that little 2-wheeled dolly. You could tie a couple of these things together, but I think something closer to double that length would be more than twice as useful.


nebraska dave
7/10/2010 1:21:27 PM

@Hank, boy that’s a far cry from the old banger we used to see who could hold on to the longest. That pass time fell from out of fashion when the weed burners came onto the farm. Oh, yeah we tried but it was just too hot to hold onto. Our electric fences were made out of barbed wire with the big white insulator knobs and steel posts. Probably was a little bit of over kill but it kept the animals where they should be. Solar anything was not even heard about. We had to start at the barn and work our way around the field. I used to get so tired of running the fence line to keep the weeds from shorting out the fence. Some technology is a wonderful thing. We had a fence wagon too. It had everything needed to fix or run any fence on the property. I have one question. Does the Smart Fence have a limit of 330 feet or can more fencing be added onto the electric control box? Our fence runs back on the farm were much longer than 330 feet. I can see where this would work great for your application of easily moving small herds of grazing animals around in the pasture.