When it comes to keeping cow fencing, we are all life-long students. Whether you are a hired hand or an experienced cattle farmer, there is always something to learn and mistakes to make.
No one is perfect, and that is the first thing you need to admit as a homesteader. You are going to make mistakes along the way. The key is to learn from those mistakes so that you can do better.
Installing cow fencing is no different from anything else in homesteading. You can expect to make mistakes in your first couple attempts. All you can do is hope that your mistakes don’t get anyone hurt. After finding out that you made a mistake, you can go out and fix the fence and know not to do that again.
I talked to a few fellow homesteaders and we came up with this list of the most common cow fencing mistakes that we see. Learn from our mistakes and get a head start from where we started!
The number one mistake that new cow farmers make involves their corner posts. That is a huge problem because that is the most vital part of the fence. If your corners fail, then the rest of the fence is coming down with it.
When building a cow fence, you need to make sure that you corner post is thick enough to withstand the force of tensioned wire. If you are using a light duty wire, like a 1 or a 2, then you can get away with using a 4 inch post in all your corners. Anything bigger will require a 6 inch post or bigger. For those looking to use net wire fencing, it is recommended that you use an 8 inch post to be safe.
Along with ensuring that you use the right size pole, you need to make sure they are buried deep enough. Failure to bury them deep enough in the ground can me a big mistake that will cost you time and money. I recommend that you bury them at a depth at least equal to the height of the top strand of wire. In other words, a 6 foot tall wire fence should have corner poles that are at least 6 feet deep.
If you already have a livestock fence with inadequate corner posts, there are a few ways to fix your cow fencing mistake. The easiest way is to support the poles with a cross brace. Cross two poles in opposite directions to relieve the stress of being pulled in both directions.
Hot Tip : Use wooden fence pole, not metal. Metal fence poles absorb so of the electricity being passed through the wire, requiring you to send more electricity through the wire.
The general tendency is to install too many posts because “I would rather use too many than too less”. While this is true, you don’t need to go way overboard either. Remember that you aren’t installing barbed wire any more, where the recommended distance is 16.5 feet.
Electric fencing companies suggest that you install your posts 100 feet apart. My experience is that it is extremely hard to keep the wire tight enough at that distance, but we keep them at least 50 feet apart. This can really save you money when installing your fences.
The general rule of thumb is to supply 1 joule per mile of fence. That math is regardless of how many strands of wire you are using. If you supply too much power, you can cause harm to the animals and cause numerous other logistical issues. Over powered energizers tend to short out trying to power through vegetation that comes in contact with the wire.
Grounding is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you set up cow fencing. 90% of issues with electric fencing can be attributed to incorrectly installed ground rods.
You need to have at least 3 feet of ground rod for every joule of energy you are looking to produce. As an easy example, you will need 18 feet of ground rod to produce 3 joules of energy. Since I doubt you are getting a ground rod 18 feet into the ground, which means you will need to your 6 ground rods that are three feet deep.
The piece that most people overlook is that you need to spread those ground rods out. In order to get the correct dispersal of energy, they need to be at least 10 feet apart. Anything less than 10 feet will cause you nothing but problems.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to place all the ground rods near the energizer. You can spread them out along the entire length of your strand so that you don’t run out of room.
I also suggest that you use galvanized ground rods instead of copper. Copper corrodes faster and costs more than the galvanized version that works just as well.