Deter Animals With an Electric Fence

Protect your crops or livestock by setting an electric fence around your perimeter.

| December 2017

  • Electric fences are a practical option for keeping predators out of your property, and keeping your livestock from straying.
    Photo by Pixabay/PIRO4D
  • A weak fence can be dug under, jumped over, or pushed through.
    Illustration by © Elara Tanguy
  • “The Electric Fencing Handbook” by Ann Larkin Hansen helps you choose and install the right electric fence to protect your property.
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

The Electric Fencing Handbookan electric fence by Ann Larkin Hansen (Storey Publishing, 2017) teaches you how to keep your domesticated animals inside your perimeter and keep unwanted guests away from your crops and livestock.This excerpt from chapter 3 addresses how to fit the fence to the type of animal that you wish to keep in or out of your property.

Fitting the Fence to the Animal

The right voltage and the right type and number of wires on an electric fence can satisfactorily control poultry, sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, equines, rabbits, deer, foxes, coyotes, and bears. The trick is to get the right voltage and type and spacing of fence wires appropriate for the species.

When it comes to electric fence there are two types of animals: those that are easy to control with lower voltages, and those that require more juice on the wire to convince them that getting through the fence is a bad idea.

The first group includes cattle and horses, which generally have thin coats and are heavy enough to make solid ground contact. The second group comprises sheep and most wild animals, which tend to have heavier, more insulating coats, are lighter on their feet, and are more determined to get through a fence. In between are species like goats and pigs, which vary in ease of control depending on how docile they are and how well trained to the fence. Poultry fencing should focus on predator control, since everything likes to eat chicken.



Wiring recommendations for type, height, and spacing are based on whether a particular kind of animal generally prefers going under, over, or through a fence, and whether it has good eyesight. Bears, for example, have poor vision and may bumble through a fence before they see it’s there.

General Principles

No electric fence is 100 percent effective 100 percent of the time. Where it is essential to have near-total reliability, such as along property lines or separating breeding stock, it’s better to build a combination physical and electric fence or a very solid physical fence.






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