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Electric Fences to Keep Out Livestock

Build Your Own Livestock Fence
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Installation Instructions
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While livestock are not a common garden problem, much of our modern electric fence technology was developed to deal with livestock. So it stands to reason that livestock are easy to keep out of gardens with an electric fence. One or two charged wires at appropriate heights for the livestock you have in mind, together with a modest (1 joule or so) electric fence charger will do the trick.

Products needed to create a livestock fence of this kind include a charger/energizer, fiberglass posts, clip-on insulators, fence wire, hookup wire, connectors, a ground rod, gate gear, a fence tester, warning signs, and installation instructions.


To follow these guidelines, read each section below and add appropriate items to your shopping cart.


Electric Fence Charger/Energizer

The three chargers below are all you need to keep out livestock. The AC charger needs hookup wire (a long enough length to reach from your nearest AC outlet to the fence.) The battery-powered charger will run on a deep-cycle (boat or golf cart) 60 amp-hour battery for a month (battery not included). The panel for the solar-powered system (more expensive) should be placed in the sun and oriented for maximum sun exposure.

Charger: Battery-powered: Patriot PBX-50; 0.5 Joules (product details)
Charger: Battery-powered: Patriot PBX-50; 0.5 Joules
  • ID: 01-PAT-B.5J
  • Retail Price: $79.49
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    2+ $71.49
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Metal U-posts

These are needed at corners, ends, and gates of 3 and 4-foot fences. (For a 3-foot fence use 4-foot posts, for a 4-foot fence use 5-foot posts.) Get one post for each corner, one for each end (if your fence comes up against a building, wall, or other fence), and two for each gate. 

Fiberglass Posts

Get 27-inch fiberglass posts for pigs, 4-foot fiberglass posts for sheep or goats, and taller fiberglass posts for cattle or horses. Get enough so that when you space them out evenly along the fence line there will be no more than 15 feet between any two posts. The 27-inch posts should be inserted into the ground 9 inches, while the taller posts should go into the ground a foot. Be sure to put your fence line far enough away from growing plants so that the target animals cannot reach over or through the fence to get the plants.

This product is unavailable or out of stock.
This product is unavailable or out of stock.


Fiberglass post insulators: If you are running one wire, get one insulator for each fiberglass post. Plan on putting the insulator at the top of the post. If you are running more than one wire, multiply the number of fiberglass posts times the number of wires and purchase that number of insulators.

Corner knob insulators: These are for corners and anyplace where the fence ends. They come in bags of 10. If you are running one wire, get one for each corner and one for each end. If you are running more than one wire, multiply the number of corners and ends by the number of wires and purchase that number of insulators.

U-post insulators for gates: These come in bags of 2, 6 and 10. Multiply the number of fence wires times the number of gates on your fence and get that number of insulators. 

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Fence Wire

Get enough electric fence wire (aluminum wire or polywire) to go once, twice, or three times around the fence, depending on the target livestock. Many gardeners will want the aluminum electric fence wire. It comes in various lengths and lasts well. However, metal fence wire has two disadvantages. It has a reputation for injuring horses, which occasionally get tangled up in it. Also, once unwound it cannot be rewound, while the polywire can. So if you want to take your fence up in winter, or if you plan to move it about, or if you are dealing with horses, we recommend that you use polywire.

This product is unavailable or out of stock.
This product is unavailable or out of stock.
This product is unavailable or out of stock.

Polywire Accessories

If you are using polywire, consider these accessories:

Tensioners: Use a polywire tensioner for every run of polywire on each side of your fence if the fence is short, or for every 100 feet of polywire if the fence is long. Count a side with a gate as two sides. Note that 6 tensioners come in each pack.

Reels: If you will be dispensing over 600 feet of polywire, or if you will need to be reeling it up and storing it at season’s end, it’s convenient to get a reel. The reel holds up to a quarter-mile (1,320 feet) of polywire, so if you are purchasing more than that it is also worth getting one or more storage spools.

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Hookup Wire

If you have an AC-powered charger and AC outlet more than a few feet away from the fence, you will need hookup wire to reach from the charger to your fence. It’s a poor idea to run an ordinary extension cord from the AC outlet and plug the charger into it near the fence, because house current is dangerous, while the charger’s low-power pulsed output is not. So plug the charger into the AC outlet directly and carry the charger’s output to the fence.

Unfortunately, you can’t do this with an ordinary extension cord designed to hold in 200 volts. Voltage is the electrical equivalent of pressure, and your charger puts out harmless but very high voltage. So you need something that can hold in very high voltage, and that’s what electric fence hookup wire does.

If you have more than one wire on the fence, plan to spread the charge out to the other wire with short lengths of hookup wire and split-bolt clamps. Then, if you have more than one gate, or a place where the fence is interrupted by a structure, wall, or other fence, you will also need hookup wire to go under the gate and spread the charge to all the fence wires on the other side.

This product is unavailable or out of stock.
Conductor: Insulated Hookup Wire, 1,000 ft. (Baygard) (product details)
Conductor: Insulated Hookup Wire, 1,000 ft. (Baygard)
  • ID: 02-32A
  • Retail Price: $187.99
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For connecting hookup wire to your fence wire, the best connector is a split-bolt style clamp. These connectors are sold in bags of 10. Plan on using one connector to join the incoming hookup wire from your charger to a charged wire on your fence, two more to connect up each additional charged wire on the fence, two more each time you need to go under a gate with hookup wire (if you have two or more gates, or if there is some structure, wall or other fence interrupting your fence), two more for each wire that needs to be reconnected on the other side, and one for any place where one spool of wire ends and needs to be connected to the wire from another spool.

Ground Rod

Most short garden fences, in which the entire garden is less than 200 feet away from the ground rod, only need a little 2-foot ground rod. Put this close to your fence and connect it to your charger with any metal wire (heavily insulated wire is not needed). If the ground along the fence line is very dry or frozen at times when the fence should be working, or if the fence is long, you may need a longer ground rod.

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Set up a gate on your fence line by placing 2 metal U-posts, each with 1 insulator for each wire on the fence, at the 2 sides of where you want your gate. Wrap your fence wire around an insulator at one side of the gate and cut the wire, leaving enough to reach nearly all the way across the gate opening. Then attach this wire to the rear of a gate handle so that the gate handle can reach across the gate and hook itself into the insulator attached to the post on the other side. Do the same thing for each run of electric fence wire—meaning that at each gate you will need one gate handle for each run of wire.

If you plan two gates, or if there is a building or wall interrupting your fence, go under each gate opening with a length of hookup wire buried a few inches underground and long enough to reach from a charged wire on one side of the gate to a charged wire on the other. Then spread the charge to all of the wires on the other side of the gate with connectors and hookup wire.

Electric Fence Testers

Ordinary voltmeters can’t read the pulsed high-voltage output of your charger—either when it comes out of the charger itself or when it is on your fence. You need an electric fence tester for that. Our 5-lite model detects a range of different voltages, but you may prefer a more expensive digital tester that gives a really precise reading.

Warning Signs (optional)

Your fence won’t harm anything, even sparrows. But warning signs will remind both the gardener and visitors of the fence’s presence. Some states require warning signs for all electric fences.

Warning Signs, pack of 3 (product details)
Warning Signs, pack of 3
  • ID: 10-01
  • Retail Price: $3.69
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Installation Instructions

Free installation instructions for your fence are available on this website. To view them click here.

Purchasing Your Fence Materials

If you have gone down the above list, putting the appropriate items in a shopping cart, you now have all the materials needed to create a fence to keep out livestock and are ready to complete your purchase by checking out.

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