Common Electric Fencing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Electric fencing can be one of the cheapest and most effective ways to manage livestock, keep out pests and control the borders of your land, but if you’re unfamiliar with these fencing systems then any mistakes made, either during the installation or the operation of them, can be costly.

Save yourself a lot of headaches and unforeseen expense with this rundown of common electric fencing mistakes and how you can avoid them:

electric fencing

Don’t Skimp on Quality

We live in the age of the bargain and shopping around online is usually a good way of saving money on almost any item but electric fencing is not one of them.

Each of the components involved should be of good enough quality to withstand any type of weather, from the insulators and chargers to the wire itself.

Poor Grounding

For your fencing to be effective it needs to deliver shocks that have an impact. Poor grounding can lead to fencing that delivers little more than a tickle.

Make sure earth stakes are situated away from trees and building foundations and that they’re pushed into ground that’s free of rubble or sand as far as they’ll go. Overly dry ground is a poor conductor so check your rods and give them a dousing of water in any prolonged dry spells.

Post Selection and Spacing

For permanent fences, sturdy, secure timber posts are best but for temporary or portable enclosures, poly posts are cheaper and more convenient. Just make sure that the posts are perpendicular to the terrain so that wires flow smoothly between them.

It’s tempting to think that the more fence posts you have, the stronger your electric fencing system will be but when it comes to keeping livestock under control, a little flexibility really is your friend.

If an animal or even a vehicle hits the wires between well-spaced posts, they’re more likely to flex and bend whereas if the same happens between short-spaced posts, they’re more likely to snap. Leave spaces of around 6m for small animals like rabbits and spaces of 10/15m for cattle and horses.

electric fencing

Wire Fixings

As already mentioned, flexibility is essential, both for the flow of the wire circuits and the electricity that runs along them, so avoid tying or stapling wires to posts. Always use quality insulators that match the requirements of your fencing system and its setup.

Wire Management

Long, wet grass can interfere with the performance of your fencing but keeping it cut, particularly in the spring and summer months can feel like a full-time job.

This problem can be avoided by running the bottom one or two wires, which are usually the only ones affected by grass, through a separate switch which can be deactivated as and when necessary.

Solar Panelling

If your system relies on solar panels for power, make sure they’re facing the right way at any given time of year and are cleaned regularly.

Touch Testing

Don’t do it. If you want to know what current is running through any given stretch of wire, use a voltage tester. Better yet, check the extent of your fencing regularly for any significant current weaknesses. If you find any, run through the checklist above and you will often find the cause for it.


Breakdowns happen. Sometimes it’s a short-term fault caused by a simple maintenance issue that’s quick to resolve but occasionally, a fencing system may be knocked-out by lightning, power failure, accidental damage or even sabotage.

Always ask about warranties when you buy your kit and make sure you keep spare parts handy.

electric fencing

Livestock Training

Large animals, even docile ones like dairy cattle, can and will break through your electric fencing if they’re not trained to be afraid of it.

Create a training enclosure or make time to introduce your animals to new fencing so that they understand where the shock comes from and know to avoid it in future.

You can find a wide range of Rutland Electric Fencing essentials and accessories online from UK supply partner, Chelford Farm Supplies.