Let There Be Light!

Ever since I found that the livestock will know the electric fence is off before I do, I’ve been fine-tuning my electric fence skills. I first started using electric fence when I got my first feeder pigs. Electric is the easiest way to keep pigs contained and yet also be able to rotate them through various areas so they don’t destroy an area and end up living in a mud pit. At my first farm, I eventually found that I liked to keep the pigs in the wooded area, which meant it wouldn’t work to install hardwired electric fencing and so I went with solar. That also meant that where I needed to put the solar charger in a location where, for half the day, trees blocked the sun.

I didn’t realize that this was as much an issue as it was until I showed up to the farm one morning to the sight of two of my six pigs charger straight for me far from where they should have been. After chasing them around for what felt like an eternity, I realized that the four boys were satisfied with staying in the pen and the two girls were so food motivated that they chased me into the pen when I ran away from them with a bag of feed! Once I got them back in the pen and the fence fixed back up, I realized that I’d need to rig up a light for the panel at night to keep it charged enough. I ran four extension cords all 400 feet out to that panel to light it up at night for the next month until butcher day arrived.

Electric fencing is a modern day miracle. Solar electric fencing takes it a wondrous step further. It makes electrifying fence far from an outlet a snap. But it always has its challenges. Electric fence is often taken out by deer, grounded by wet plant matter, or sags against the woven wire field fence, all of which mean the shock goes into the ground rather than into the curious nose of livestock. But no matter what grounds it out, if the wire is grounded or the charger has run out of juice, the animals will know and they will work to find a way out as soon as they get bored or hungry.

I managed to make it through 9 hours without the cattle realizing the fence was grounded, and I’m hoping to make it another 9 before I can turn it on again. This time, I only had to run three extension cords to the panel so I could plug in a light to charge the panel at night. Unfortunately, it had also been grounded due to help from a buck who had gotten caught in the fence and destroyed a section of fencing, both field fence and the electric wire fence, so it was fully dead. With fingers crossed and the light shining, here’s hoping for a fence with some power to it in the morning!


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