[NAFEX] Deer and electric fences
nafexlist at hotmail.com
Mon Sep 13 23:39:50 EDT 2004
At one time I also thought an electric fence was the way to go. Experience
changed my mind. Low tech (woven wire, no electrical wires) has been
simpler and more effective.
My experience with electric fence has been less than impressive. Didn't
work for me; might work for you depending upon your circumstances. I did a
fair amount of research and followed recommendations for spacing, grounding
for dry conditions, etc. I tried it for about 4 year before going to woven
wire. Too much winter browsing.
The fence was 8' high. It was high tension, using the specialized high
tension wire, tensioners, cross-bracing and anchors at the corners and
gates, etc. It consisted of horizontal wires only, except for support
posts. I don't recall the exact spacing but I think the bottom 4-5 wires
were spaced 6-18 inches apart (closer at the bottom) lower wires
electrified, with alternating hot-ground at higher levels. Having some of
the wires be grounds is good for jumping through (touch two wires and
complete the circuit, or in dry conditions where the real ground can't alway
be relied upon to close the circuit. (I live in an area where things dry
out in the late summer and autumn.) I also had a ground along the dirt
level. The ground wires were connect to three standard grounding rods.
Had an on-off switch separate from the pulse generator. The pulse generator
was in my garage where I could see the "fence status" indicator, including
the somewhat irritating click-click-click as each pulse is generated. I
also had a lightning arrestor. The generator was the standard high voltage
kind. I did eventually get a specialized light (to indicate when the fence
is active) but never got around to installing it.
Installing it was overall an interesting experience. High tension wire is
best removed using a specialized spool, which I also bought. (It is much
more difficult to control than standard wire.) There are tapes and meshes
that would probably be easier to use and less demanding to support.
Here are the problems:
At times the fence would get shorted out (broken brace wire, fallen branch,
arcing) or the breaker would trip, etc. It's tough to tell when fence is
electrified without a meter to periodically check this. Since deer are most
desperate to get in their when you are not out there (winter) there were
times that I wouldn't discover until after the fact that my electified fence
There are also times that I'm sure that the fence was electrified and the
deer went in any way. I don't know if starvation trumps getting shocked,
but whatever the motivation, they did get in at times when the fence seemed
I never did try try the "peanut butter" trick or use an offset electrified
wire at chest height, etc.
I converted to double height woven wire (hog fence) and stretched it using a
yoke (consisting of two boards bolted together at the end of the fence)
attached to the front-end loader of a tractor. If you choose to do this use
care, since problems can arise from over-stretching the wire or having the
bucket too high. I was careful and did OK.
I now have an 8' high woven wire fence. I used the old wooden supports,
with intermediate support from standard steel fence posts and 8' rebar
(using standard twist wire-ties.) No deer. No maintenance. Works night and
day, summer and winter, spring and fall. No need to check. Visually about
the same an electric fence in my humble opinion. Also nicer should you be
working next to it, as no need to turn off or remember to turn back on when
you are done. Touching your back against a high voltage wire feels like
some one hitting you in the flank with a 2x4 as hard as they can. Can also
hang things on the woven wire, use as a trellis on the north end, etc.
I think electric fences are great for controlling domestic animals, but am
unimpressed with their ability to control some wild animals. Good for
coyotes, borderline for deer, worthless for porcupines (but then woven wire
is too--they just climb over.) I think almost any electric fence will be
effective against the "casual" deer, but I have seen deer jump over my
neighbor's 5' electric fence--as they were casually making their way across
a field about dusk. Didn't look like they were even trying all that hard to
do it. Did it from a stand--no run, no nothing.
The high tension wire has proven useful for trellises or containment fences
for grapes, raspberries, and blackberries, so it hasn't been a total loss.
BTW, electrified barbed wire is considered a no-no, since if you (or an
animal) gets hung up on the barbs, you will be shocked repeatedly. Most
manuals say not to electrify barbed wire.
Your mileage may vary.
USDA Zone 6a
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