Electric Fencing vs. Traditional Fencing: Advantages & Disadvantages
Deciding on the type of agricultural fence to use on your property is a major choice that you will face. Whether you need to contain horses or other types of livestock, you will face two major fencing type options: electric fence and regular, more traditional fencing.
How Electric Fencing Works
While traditional fencing creates a physical barrier to keep animals from wandering through an area, electric fencing relies on an electrical circuit to contain the animals. A power energizer creates a high voltage pulse which is sent through the fence in a steady rhythm, about once every second.
If the electric fence’s current is interrupted by an animal that touches both the fence and the ground simultaneously, that animal receives an electric shock. The intensity of the shock depends on a number of factors, including the energy of the pulse that is being sent through the fence, so the degree of the shock can be tailored to suit the animals it is being used to contain. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_fence)
The Advantages of Electric Fencing
- Safety - Traditional fencing, like barbed wire or wooden fencing, can be dangerous if a horse or animal runs into or becomes tangled in the fencing. Electric fencing typically consists of an electric wire, rope, or tape, which will not tear up an animal’s legs like barbed wire would. Additionally, the shock an animal will feel when touching an electric fence will create a psychological barrier. This psychological barrier trains the animal to avoid the fence, reducing any chance of the animal being injured by the fence. (http://www.fishock.com/advice/why-electric-fencing).
Additionally, electric fencing can help to prevent outside animals from getting into your animals’ pastures, further protecting your animals from injury. (http://www.redstonesupply.com/pages/learning-center-horse-fencing#Q4)
- Flexibility - Whereas traditional fencing, once installed, cannot be easily moved, electric fencing is much more flexible. Electric fencing can be easily moved, and is a practical choice for permanent, semi-permanent, or portable fencing. (http://www.zarebasystems.com/learning-center/why-electric-fencing)
- Lower Cost - One of the major disadvantages of traditional fencing is the cost of the fencing itself. Barbed wire, PVC fencing, and wooden fencing are all costly to purchase, and this can become a hefty expense if you plan on fencing a large area. Compared to traditional fencing, electric fencing is much less expensive to purchase. (http://www.fishock.com/advice/why-electric-fencing)
- Ease of Installation - While installing traditional fencing is labor-intensive, electric fencing is much easier to install. Rather than digging holes for fence posts and hammering nails to attach panels, electric fencing features smaller diameter poles or rods, making it much easier to install.
- Elimination of Cribbing - If your fencing will be containing horses, then electric fencing has a serious advantage over wooden fencing, in that it eliminates the fence cribbing. With wooden or PVC fence, cribbing can be a major issue that gradually destroys panels of fencing. Electric fencing gives a horse no surface to crib on, and if the horse did try to crib, the jolt he received would deter him.
The Disadvantages of Electric Fencing
- Vulnerability to Power Outages - Electric fencing relies on continuous electricity. If your property experiences a power outage, the fence will not be functional until the power is restored. However, since the shock of touching an electric fence creates a psychological barrier which teaches an animal not to challenge the fence, an electric fence can still serve as a barrier even without electricity, as long as the animals have previously been accustomed to the fence.
- Appearance - Some property owners prefer the traditional aesthetic appearance of wooden fencing or other traditional fencing types. While electric fencing doesn’t offer quite the same aesthetic appeal, it can be paired with wooden or PVC fencing to achieve both the appearance of traditional fence and the benefits of electric fence.
While the decision of whether to use electric fencing is one that only you can make, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of opting for electric fencing versus traditional fencing.