All About Electric Fencing

Episode 10
For the Love of Goats

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If you own goats, you only get one chance to get fencing right. One of the first things I learned about goats was that they were too smart for me to use a sub-standard fencing option. When we brought home our first goats, we thought that the existing single-wire electric fencing that had been installed for the former horse farm would be fine for our goats. I just went to the local farm store and bought a charger that said it would electrify up to 10 miles of fencing. That sounded like it would be more than enough for our little pasture. But we quickly learned that horses and goats have very different needs in terms of fencing!

When people say that goats are hard to keep fenced in, that’s because they’re not using the right kind of fencing. Any animal is hard to keep fenced in if you use the wrong kind of fencing. Unfortunately, by the time we realized that horse fencing didn’t work for goats, it was too late. The goats had learned that they would just get a little shock as they slipped between the wires that had been placed a foot apart. We tried moving the wires closer together, but that didn’t stop them. Ultimately we realized that woven wire would work best for a perimeter fence, and then we could sub-divide pastures with electric netting.

In this episode, I’m talking to Joe Putnam of Premier 1 Supplies, the company that  makes my favorite brand of electric fencing. I’ve been using it since at least 2004 or so. He talks about everything you need to know to get your fencing right — the first time. We’re talking about pulse, joules, volts, amps, and ohms, as well as energizers, conductors, and insulators. This information will be helpful to anyone who wants to use electric fencing, regardless of whether or not it’s from Premier 1. 

You know I always say that I made all the mistakes so you don’t have to. Well, I thought it happened again as I was talking to Joe because he talked about how many electric netting panels you should hook up to a fence charger. I was afraid we were using too many. However, after the interview, I checked my chargers and was happy to discover that we have one that’s strong enough to be able to hook up as many as 15 rolls of the sheep and goat netting or 7 rolls of poultry netting. I learned a lot more than I was expecting in this podcast!

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Host 0:03
For the Love of Goats, we are talking about everything goat, whether you’re a goat owner, a breeder, or just a fan of these wonderful creatures, we’ve got you covered. Today’s episode is brought to you by Premier1Supplies, sheep and goat equipment that works from folks who use it every day. And now, here’s Deborah Niemann.

Deborah Niemann 0:28
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode. This is Deborah. And I have with me today, Joe Putnam from Premier 1 Supplies. And I’m really excited to have him here today, because Premier1 was actually one of the very first companies I ever discovered when I started my farm. Back in 2002, the guy came to fill up our propane tank, and he saw that I had goats. And he goes, Hey, you know about Premier1, right? And I said, no. And so he wrote it down on a piece of paper, because this was before everybody had websites, he wrote it down on a piece of paper for me, told me that he raised sheep and that Premier 1 had the best fencing and equipment, everything in it. I needed to call them and get their catalog. Again, back in the dark ages. So, I kind of set it aside. And then, I went to my local farm store, and saw that they had electric fence chargers there. And I saw this one that said it charged up to 10 miles, and I thought, wow, that’s incredible. You know, our farm is only 32 acres, this is going to be way more powerful than anything we need. So I bought it and brought it home. It really did not work so great. So we lived with a lot of mistakes. A lot of problems and stuff. But we thought that’s just what electric fencing was like. It wasn’t until we needed to get a second charger that I actually looked at Premier 1. The funny thing is, I looked through their catalog and there are so many options in there. And I was pretty sure what I was going to need was this charger that cost $250. And so I picked up the phone and I called and I discovered that the people on the phone were not just salesmen who were going to try to sell you the most expensive thing or just take your order. They actually talked to me about what kind of animals I had. What kind of soil I had. They asked me all kinds of questions that I had no idea made any difference whatsoever, in what kind of fence I needed. And in the end, she said that I would probably do well with this charger that cost only $150 which was $100 less than I thought. So that was the first thing I bought from them. And then I ultimately started buying like their ElectroNet for our sheep and goats. And we started with two or three rolls. Today, I think we’re up to 15 or 16, it’s a lot. Plus we have three rolls of the poultry netting to go around our henmobile. So we really love their products. And so when it comes to electric fencing, the only thing I recommend is Premier 1. And so that’s why I wanted Joe to talk to you today about what you need to look for in an electric fence. What do all these things mean? So that you don’t get sucked in by, Oh, this will electrify 10 miles of fencing. And you think that it’s good, and then wonder why you have problems. So that’s a really super long introduction. But thank you so much for joining us today, Joe.

Joe Putnam 3:40
You’re welcome, Deb. Thanks for having me. That is a good introduction. I like them. I like them that way. Thank you. You are making me blush.

Deborah Niemann 3:49
Ah, well, as you know, when you’ve been using something for so long, so it’s probably 16, 17 years, at least. So we’ve been using your products and then we got your heat lamps and all kinds of stuff. So the first thing I want to talk about is let’s go through some terms that people need to know because it’s not just about how many miles of fencing.

Joe Putnam 4:14

Deborah Niemann 4:14
So there’s some really cool terms we need to talk about, like pulse and joule and we’re not talking about diamond jewels here. We’re talking about the joule that spelled J-O-U-L-E and volts and amps and ohms, O-H-M-S not meditation. That’s it. Another electrical term, ohms. So can you tell us what all those things mean? And why should we care?

Joe Putnam 4:40
Absolutely. So an electric fence, there’s probably the two main terms we focus on. Well, we focus on all four but the two mains are volts and joules. And joule is how much energy is in your, as the output coming off your fence energizer. That’s the little box that you either plug in to your outlet or put on a battery. And what’s coming, the amount of energy that’s coming off of that is measured in joules. So if you have more joules, you have more energy. And the rate or the amount of pressure behind that joule is measured in volts. So voltage is the pressure on your electrical line more or less in this case. You mentioned pulse, and that is the type of energizer, we use pulse type energizer so it’s just a one little shock of energy about once a second or once every second and a half. And that’s just your little bundle of energy that’s made up of a joule and it’s pushed by your volts. And that’s running down your fence line, that electric pulse. And then amps, that’s how much energy is flowing over a unit of time. So think of gallons per minute or something along those lines. And then another one we like to focus on is ohms. And that’s the resistance and that is what impedes or slows down or against the pulse traveling down your fence line. So think of, say a nice piece of copper. That is something that’s used in electrical lines all over the place, because it’s very conductive. And then think of a piece of rusty barbed wire. One of those is going to have more ohms or be less conductive than the other. The copper wire, it will have fewer ohms so it means it has less resistance, and the barbed wire is going to have more ohms or more resistance. So those are things we need to keep in mind when building a fence or sourcing energizers or selecting conductors for your fence.

Deborah Niemann 6:54
Okay, so it’s probably not a great idea if you’ve got an old rusty barbed wire fence out there. It’s probably not a great idea to just go hook up an energizer to it.

Joe Putnam 7:03
No, no, no. We tend to recommend not combining or not electrifying the barbed wire or even electrified and barbed at the same time, I know it’s done a lot. But the case there is, have you ever been hung up on a piece of barbed wire?

Deborah Niemann 7:19

Joe Putnam 7:21
How about you’re stuck next to a hot piece of barbed wire or an electrified strand next to it at the same time. You’re trying to avoid stress for both the shepherd and the animals as well. So we try not to electrify barbed wire, you know, folks do it.

Deborah Niemann 7:38
Right. Not a good idea.

Joe Putnam 7:39
Yes. That is high resistance. Gosh, you don’t want to do that.

Deborah Niemann 7:44
Yes. Okay. So the first thing that we usually think about when we say I need to get an electric fence is the energizer. What do people want to look for? I’ve already told them what you don’t want. You don’t want to just get something that says lots of miles. What do people need to look for in a good energizer?

Joe Putnam 8:00
Alright, so typically, what’s recommended nowadays is the low impedance pulse type energizer. So that eliminates high impedance. It eliminates continuous current or weed burner type energizers. You want to avoid those, if you’re going to be electrifying netting or anything with an electroplastic conductor. So electroplastic conductors are your plastic and metal braids, ropes, twines and tapes. You don’t want the continuous current on those because the pulse lasts a little bit longer than a typical low impedance pulse type energizer. So that extra pulse time creates a little bit more heat. So if you have some heat on that plastic, you can melt it. And if you have grass contact, you have a short to ground which creates a spark. So you have a fuel source, you have a spark, and you have some oxygen around there because of the air. And now it’s been a while since I took physics or and the chemistry, but I think those are the requirements for a fire. So you want to avoid that combination.

Deborah Niemann 9:09
Got you. So you mentioned weed burner, which sounds like a good thing, why would you not want to get a weed burner energizer?

Joe Putnam 9:19
So if you have plastic conductors, the electroplastic conductors, that weed burner. So let’s assume you’re gonna have grass contact, you’re going to have a higher chance of melting plastic and spark and pull some potential fire from that. So avoid that. If you’re using metal hotwire, I know some folks still use them for that purpose. We don’t recommend them because we deal so much with the electroplastic conductors at Premier that they’re not even on the table. Weed burner continuous current or high impedance units are completely off the table for us for primary reason. So, that’s what you don’t want to look for. What you do want to see is output joules. So they have stored joules, release joules and output joules. And we look at joules of output when choosing energizers, because that’s not variable. That is a set amount coming off the energizer. It’s always going to be that same amount of energy, that joule rating. And we use that instead of miles because that miles rating is based on what we call ideal fencing or our ideal lab conditions. So that will be a single strand of wire with no grass contact on it, perfectly moist soils and very little resistance. Sure that energizer may run 10 miles. But if you do real fencing conditions where, Oh, maybe if I don’t have the best insulators on my fence, or my lowest strand is about six inches off the ground, so I have some grass contact there, or potential weed issues. So that’s going to take energy away from your fence so that 10 miles becomes a couple 100 feet real fast. So we avoid the mile rating at Premier primarily for that reason. And I mentioned grass contact, so every little blade of grass is touching your fence, it doesn’t take a lot of energy, because it’s not the most conductive material in the world. But it does take a little bit of energy off your fence line. So it robs some of your pulse power. And one little blade of grass is not that big of a deal. But if you do that for a full whole fence line, all those little blades of grass taking little tiny sips from your goals. Well, by the time you get to the end of the fence, that pulse has gone from something pretty big to something pretty small, real fast. So if you’re the kind of fence manager that says Ah, grass contact, that’s not that big of a deal, you want to have something with more joules of output. Because if you start with a larger pulse at the beginning or larger amount of energy at the beginning of your fence, and you have all that grass contact, by the time you get to that end of the fence, you still have something that’s strong enough to keep your animals in and predators out. If you start with more energy to begin with. If you start with limited energy to begin with, you won’t have much of anything at the end of your fence. And the way you measure that is with the voltage. You take a fence tester, not your ordinary electric multimeter. And here’s why, multimeters are meant for testing house voltage which is in the 110 to a 220 range. Electric fence voltage, the voltage coming off the terminals of your energizer is typically around 10,000 volts. So you can fry a multimeter pretty quickly. So that’s why you use a specific fence tester because it can handle those high voltages. And the voltage you want at the end of your fence line, the furthest point from the energizer, you want that to be about 3000 volts and we use that across the board to cover all species. So that’s sheep, goats, poultry bear, swine, cattle, horses, coyotes, fox, possums and raccoons. That’s 3000 volts seems to cover about everything.

Deborah Niemann 13:20
What do people need to know about conductors?

Joe Putnam 13:23
Conductors, so that is what carries your power along the fence line. So I mentioned rope tape, twine, those are your standard electric plastic conductors. And they are very popular, they’re lightweight, easy to use. And then you have your old single strand of metal wire that’s usually a galvanized type wire. And then there’s also a braided cable, a galvanized cable as well, we offer one called maxi shock. And that’s what carries your power throughout the fence line. If you’re doing a permanent fence that you’re not going to be moving very often, I like the metal conductors, because overall they have the least resistance per foot or per 1000 feet. So they can reliably carry a pulse throughout your fence. Nice even charge throughout it. If you’re going to be moving your fence pretty often, or if you have animals such as horses that move at great speed, but their eyesight is not the best, you want a nice big conductor or a nice visible conductor. So the ropes, the thicker ropes and the tapes, driving down the road, they’re pretty easy to notice. That’s easier for that animal to see. Because you don’t want them accidentally running into that fence.

Deborah Niemann 14:43
That makes perfect sense. Okay, I am not a horse person. Now I understand why so many horse people use that white ribbon for fencing.

Joe Putnam 14:51
Yes because it’s visible. It’s very easy to see that and we like to use white and black conductors because That’s the highest contrast you can get. So it’s very easy to pick up, you don’t see white very much in nature. So that white black combination just pops. And it’s easier for us to pick up at night, and somewhat easy for our livestock and animals to pick up too. So it’s just an easy color combination. You’ll see yellows or bright greens or oranges. And our experience is that white and black is just better. We do offer a green black conductor and folks like that for the purpose that it’s not visible. They like putting that around their garden because they’d rather see the garden instead of this beautiful roll of Premier 1 fencing.

Deborah Niemann 15:41
Okay, got you. I was wondering why your garden fencing was a different color? Good to know.

Joe Putnam 15:48
So it is available in white, we prefer folks go white, but there was enough demand or request to go green. Okay, well, here are the reasons why we suggest against it.

Deborah Niemann 16:03
Now on the insulators, that seems pretty straightforward to me, you know, insulator is what connects your wire or twine or other conductor to your post. Is there anything special that people need to know about insulators?

Joe Putnam 16:17
Absolutely. So they are plastic, and that means they’re susceptible to sunlight. So you want to make sure that they say UV treated on the package. Typically, black has the most UV treatment. That’s my experience there is that it’s got the best. white and black are the most visible. And so we go with those for what we offer. Yellow is pretty popular. But to me, it comes down to visibility there again, and they also just need to make sure they are UV treated. That and the more plastic that’s there, the more ohms are there to that insulator. So the more resistant that becomes. So you want plenty of plastic because that pulse sets traveling along your fence conductor, it wants to go down your T posts down to the ground and back to the energizer. So if you have more plastic there, you have more resistance. So that means it’s not an attractive pathway for that pulse to travel.

Deborah Niemann 17:22
That’s good to know.

Joe Putnam 17:23
So that’s why you see like all those curves and corners on your insulator, because it just lengthens that pathway. And I mentioned the energy going down your T posts back to the energizer. The way an electric fence works is, energy comes off the fence terminal of the energizer, that’s the one we call the positive terminal. And it sends the energy down your conductors. And when an animal or you touch that conductor, the pulse energy travels through you or the animal into the ground and then back to the energizer. And the energizer has what’s called a ground rod or a ground stake stuck in the ground. So the post travels to that ground stake, and then it’s connected back to the negative terminal of the energizer or ground terminal or earth return and it comes back, makes a circle or circuit that way. So that’s what completes the circuit of the electric fence is positive terminal, conductor, animal, ground, ground rod, negative terminal. A lot of folks like to ask us, does the fence have to make a circle to complete the circuit and it does not. You can have a straight line fence running off for hundreds or 1000s of feet or a couple miles. But it doesn’t have to connect back to itself because that’s not what completes the circuit. So you can have a fence coming off your barn and only covering three sides of the barn and not connecting back to itself. So you don’t have to have a circle there. That’s a pretty common thing. And then ground rods, you want those nice and conductive. So we like to use galvanized ground rods for our electric fence energizers. They reduce, they are resistant to corrosion because they’re galvanized. So sticking as compared to sticking a piece of rebar in the ground, they’re far more conductive over years of use. So if you get any rust buildup on your ground rod that means you’re lowering your conductivity or raising the ohms in that circuit. So you’re not getting the full pulse power back to your energizer. And the way you size or choose a ground rod length, that the industry standards about three feet of ground rod in the soil per joule of output on the energizer. And that’s just the general recommendation. If you have poor conductive soils, you can add more grounding. And also take a five gallon bucket with a pinhole in the bottom filled out with water and set that around your ground rods to make that oil or area more conductive. And then you can also set up what’s called, if you’re in a dry area, set up what’s called an earth return or pos-neg system. So instead of using that ground rod to direct the energy from the soil back to the energizer, you insulate half of your conductors on the fence from the other half. So you’d have a positive connected strand and then the next strand a couple inches away, would be connected directly to the negative terminal or directly to your ground rod. So that way when an animal touches both a positively charged strand or a possibly connected stranded and negatively connected strand, the power goes from the positive strand into the animal to the negative strand back to the energizer. So it’s a way to get around having dry soils or poorly conductive soils.

Deborah Niemann 21:03
Okay, is there a difference between, like we have a lot of clay here, but I know people in some parts of the country have sand. Does that make a difference in what you need in terms of fencing,

Joe Putnam 21:16
It does. So the clay holds moisture better as compared to the sand, so you’ll have so you’ll go with the pos-neg system in sandier soils, that if you’re using a portable fence. I also like having deeper spikes in sandier soils because they get anchored better, since that loose sand is not or the sand can be losing out all the pulse that well. So it maintains tension better by having a well supported fence. If you have a poorly supported fence, then that means that your lower conductors on the fence can sag and potentially touch the grass or the ground and then you have a shorted out fence right there.

Deborah Niemann 21:58
Okay, let’s talk about some of your nettings. You guys I think were probably, seems like you were the first one to bring nettings to the United States.

Joe Putnam 22:09
I believe we were. Our founder Stan, he went off to school, he’s an Iowa farm boy where on the farm he grew up on, that’s Premiers location. He went off to England for a few years to go to school and work on a college farm while he’s out there. And he used netting while he was there. This was in the early to mid 60s. And he came back about the mid 70s. After graduating and working there for a few years, he decided he wanted to raise sheep on this farm. But unfortunately, the netting he used and a few other tools he used weren’t available in Iowa. So he called some friends back in the UK and ordered netting and other products. Word got around, people asked for more. Or asked if they could buy some from him and he started ordering more and ordering more. And next thing you know, we’re somewhat decent size. He’s got a business on. Business has been going for 40 years now. Finally moved out of his garage.

Deborah Niemann 23:16
That’s why I love your tagline. I think your tagline is something like something about people using the products.

Joe Putnam 23:23
Oh, fences that work and equipment that works from the folks that use it every day.

Deborah Niemann 23:29
Right. Exactly. Yes. Because I know when I get a newsletter from you guys. There’s gonna be information in there about your products. But there may also be an ad in there about sheep that are for sale.

Joe Putnam 23:44
Yes. We run a new flock of Dorper Romanov Katahdin cross. I think we got that idea from the US Market Meat Animal Research Center out in Nebraska, or that cross came from there. The argument behind it came from them. And we have about 800 or 900 ewes. And we don’t lamb year round. We try and avoid the summer months just because of the heat and potential parasite issues. But we’re fall, lambing in the fall and winter and probably are wrapped up by now. I’ll have to talk to the shepherds out on the farm. That allows us to have lambs almost all year round. You hit the high points of the market as they, you know, ebb and flow throughout the year. That it’s easier to lamb 50 batches than it is 900 plus.

Deborah Niemann 24:44
Oh my goodness, I can’t even imagine. Yes, the most kids we ever had in a single year was 60. And we were in that 50 to 60 range quite a few years and it just was exhausting, you know. And that was spread over for a couple months even, but there would be days when you got no sleep. So I can imagine, and I’m sure you’ve got more than just a couple people taking care of your sheep too.

Joe Putnam 25:11
Yes. So we have two primary shepherds, or a shepherd and assistant shepherd. And Stan actually helps out in the lambing barn every now and then. And we do have another farm hand that lends assistance as well, such as running the feeder, feed grinder and things of that nature.

Deborah Niemann 25:33
So on your netting, I love it, because it works so well. And you’ve got all these different types of netting for different species, which I always tell people that you really do need to get the netting for the species that it’s advertised for. Because like you guys have seriously studied this stuff, you’re not just making different netting to sell people more products. Like, legitimately the electro net does not work with chickens, you know. They just walk right through it. Like it’s not even there. And I don’t like having the poultry netting around kids and lambs, because the verticals are strings, and they’re close together. And if a kid or a lamb isn’t used to it, it’s very easy for them to get stuck in it. Because it’s like, just the right size for them to stick their head and get stuck and freak out.

Joe Putnam 26:26
What is your voltage on the fence when they’re doing that?

Deborah Niemann 26:30
I don’t know.

Joe Putnam 26:33
Oh, gosh, someone needs a fence tester.

Deborah Niemann 26:35
Really? Okay, is that too bad or too low or too high? No, it’s too low if they’re sticking their head in, right? Like they shouldn’t be able to do that.

Joe Putnam 26:43
Not, they’re not burying it. Because I have a lot of folks that like the poultry net for that purpose, because it has a tighter spacing and the lamb would get these and that. And I go, I don’t think my head will get through that. I see arguments going either way. And I think it comes down to personal preference of the person using the fence.

Deborah Niemann 27:04
Okay, so you think I need to have a stronger, my fence needs to be stronger?

Joe Putnam 27:11
I would measure your voltage. And get back to me on what that number is. If it’s not 3000 volts, then we had to figure it out. Do you need a higher output energizer? Or do you need to reset your fence? Or maybe you just use your electron net and they won’t test it? Or we’ll see.

Deborah Niemann 27:34
That was some good information there for people that I wasn’t expecting. Is there anything else, like what are some of the common mistakes you see people make with the netting other than I know, they roll it up wrong,

Joe Putnam 27:50
I was gonna say that, that’s the number one thing is rolling it up incorrectly. So when you’re handling netting, you don’t want to roll it like a carpet. Because it’s a 100 or 164 foot roll. And if you’ve ever rolled a carpet it starts slowly at first and then, Okay, by the time you have a 10 feet done, it’s got a thicker roll. And it rolls a little bit faster near the end. But netting, it’s not as thick as a carpet. And it takes a long time to roll up 100 and 164 feet that way. And you’re wrapping all your conductors around one another because it’s not a solid sheet. It’s loose conductors and verticals and you have these spikes at the bottom. So rolling it that way, it’s very easy to get your conductors caught on one of your fence spikes. So when you go to reset it, you’re sticking that spike in the ground and you’ve got a conductor touching it, you’re going to short out your fence immediately. That and it takes a long time to handle it when you’ve rolled it up that way. So what we do is pick it up by your end post, pull it out of the ground, walk to the next post, dragging the mesh from there and go to pick up the next post. So you’re just kind of folding it by the post as you go along the fence line. And by the time you get to the end, you have five or six feet of mesh hanging down and a bundle of posts in your hand. Set it on the ground, roll the mesh to the post and then tie it off. You have a nice tidy bundle that way. So that’s probably one of the major mistakes or comments that I get as why I don’t like handling this netting. Why is this not fun? Because you’re rolling it incorrectly or for some people. That 100 foot or 164 foot roll gets a little heavy by the end. So then I would recommend going after a shorter roll. Overall that way it’s lighter and easier to handle. Other things that we run into is there are metal clips at the end of each roll of netting. It’s a stainless steel clip. Ideally, that’s where you connect your energizer or connect from your permanent fence wire to your netting if you’re subdividing. You use a pair of fence jumpers or power links to make that connection. Because that big piece of stainless steel that is an excellent piece of metal to metal contact on your fence. So that connects it and all your conductors of your fence are connected back to that piece of stainless steel at the end, that little clip. And that provides your best metal to metal or electrical fence connection. Some people will connect at the middle of the fence like on one of the strands, and there’s not a lot of material there for them to connect to. Or because the fine metal filaments, there’s not a big hunk of metal there.

So that, when the pulse is trying to jump from a jumper to the net, you might get a little spark there. And you might get some burnout spots on your fence. So connect that stainless steel clip. Also, many of our nets have what’s called a superconductor on them. So if you look at a roll of ElectroStop or PoultryNet, that second strand from the top, it won’t be white and black will be white and green that has a tin to copper, or has tin to copper filaments running through it rather than stainless steel. And what that does is it lowers the overall resistance of your roll of netting, so it makes it more conductive. So if you’re running many lengths of net, you want to have as little resistance as possible. So you’d go with that superconductor product. So that’s something to keep an eye out for if you’re looking at rolls of net. Like how many do I want to run? Do I want to limit how many ohms or resistance I have on my fence. So I think. let’s say our electro net that I think drops it down to 35 ohms having that superconductor on it, and as compared to an economy version of that net would be around 100 or 350 ohms. So it makes a big difference. Other mistakes or things to watch out for when using netting, I have a lot of comments that, well that netting works on straightaways and flat ground and I have hills and a lot of curves and changes in my terrain. Well, what you do there is you need to have more posts in your fence for that support. Or, so we have a fence called a plus net. And what that does, it shortens the length between the posts instead of being 10 to 12 feet between the posts, you’re about six or seven feet between the posts. So that allows you to better adapt to changes in your terrain, curves and corners, ups and downs, dips and dives, as I like to say, so that will help better maintain the tension on your fence and reduce any potential sagging. That and if you come up to a curve or corner or major directional change, put an insulated post in there. That way you can make an instant corner. Because if the corner lies between two posts on your net, you can stick a fiber rod or a fiber tough post in there, there are plastic posts or fiberglass posts. And that will help you make your corner and support your net. So that’s another common thing. When setting up the net, make sure you don’t have any conductors caught beneath the spike. Because that will short out your fence instantly. And have plenty of output on your energizer too, absolutely. You want to be able to provide a memorable shock to anything that touches it. So any predators, any livestock, they need to remember that I want to stay away from this. So that way it can maintain and protect. So don’t skimp out on your energizer. And if you call us and get sized for “Hey, I want to run three rolls of ElectroNet,” I will say okay, you can get away with a half joule energizer, are you going to be adding to it in the future? Do you think it’ll expand? “You know, I might add one or two rolls.” I’ll say you’re probably at the limit for the unit you have with going up to that three or five rolls. So if you are going to go five, you might want to go the next step higher on output for the energizer. So those are things to think about. Okay, right now I’m happy with one, do I want to expand by the energizer that’ll help with that expansion? That way we don’t have to buy one later. And typically on fence energizers at Premier, we get away with a half joule output that will do about three rolls of poultry netting or up to five rolls of sheep and goat fencing. That’s dependent on your soils. If you have poor soil composition, or if you have dry soils, you won’t be able to get as far. If you have moist soils, you can make it but now you’ve got to maintain that grass contact or monitor the grass contact on your fence. Moist soils? Well, grass likes moist soil so it will grow. So you got to be very vigilant about keeping that grass short.

Deborah Niemann 35:25
So did you just say you only could have about three to five rolls of netting on one energizer?

Joe Putnam 35:32
On a half joule energizer.

Intro 35:35
Okay, that might be my problem. Remember, I told you we have like 15 or 16 rolls of nettings? I only have two energizers.

Joe Putnam 35:46
You know, I can give you a number at the end of this call of some folks to talk to.

Deborah Niemann 35:52
Okay, this is the thing I love about you guys. And it’s, I can’t believe I never talked to you about this. I know you so well. You’re at all the Mother Earth news fairs. And this is one of the things in a world where everybody is ordering everything online, you guys still have a very high touch business where you are out there meeting people, talking to people. You don’t make it impossible for customers to find your phone number, like so many companies today. Like, you think they’d rather give you a kidney than give you their phone number. But you guys love talking to people because you know that it’s not like buying a jar of peanuts or something. You know? Like, we might need to talk to you about this. And I’m really mad at myself for not having talked to you about this sooner. Because I know you’re shaking your head like, I only see what, five, six times a year? Like I totally could have discussed this. About like, yeah, we’re not getting quite as much kick out of her fence charger. Oh, maybe that’s because you’ve got 10 rolls and netting hooked up to it. Too much.

Joe Putnam 37:01
Yes. makes a difference.

Deborah Niemann 37:04
So anyway, this is awesome. I learned so much from our conversation. Clearly, okay, so this is a lesson for everybody listening to this, like, don’t just go to the website and think that you can figure it all out, you know, give them a call, talk to them. Tell them what kind of animals you have, what your land is like, the terrain as far as like, are you going to be fencing on hills or flat? Do you have sand or clay and everything? So I’m really excited. I can’t wait to tell my husband all this.

Joe Putnam 37:43
I spend money, alright. But it’s with the Premier. Okay, that will work.

Deborah Niemann 37:47
I know. Well, it’s good stuff.

Joe Putnam 37:54
And as far as advice, we do, more than fences, we also run a sheep and goat advice service. So that would be sending an email to because we have a sheep and goat nutritionist, Dr. Dan Markel. He was the small ruminant guy at Iowa State for many, many years. And we also have contact with a few sheep and goat vets through that service. So if you send an email and with a question, we’ll direct it to those folks, and they’ll get an answer for you. So if you have any questions about nutrition, we can answer it for you. Or question on vaccine protocol, we can get that answered for you, because we can get it to the folks that know what they’re talking about rather than doing a Google search and praying for something,

Deborah Niemann 38:46
Right. Great. Well, this has been so much fun. I know, this is gonna be really helpful for people. It’s been way more helpful for me than I expected. I already love your stuff, and use it all the time. And now I can use it even better. So that’s exciting for us. I’m gonna love it even more. I think my animals are like, they don’t challenge it, because they apparently at some point got a good enough shock that they remember it. So it works for us. The only challenges we really have are those new kids who don’t know it yet. So well, thank you so much for joining me today.

Joe Putnam 39:28
You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

Deborah Niemann 39:30
Yes. And I will probably have you back sometime to talk about some more of your stuff.

Joe Putnam 39:34
Oh, love that.

Deborah Niemann 39:36
And that’s it for today. If you haven’t already done so, hit that subscribe button so that you don’t miss any future episodes. And I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on Apple or your other podcast player so that it makes it easier for people to find us in the future. Thanks so much, and I’ll see you again next week.

electric fencing

8 thoughts on “All About Electric Fencing”

  1. Thank You Deborah!
    Happy Easter!
    God Bless You!
    I continue to hear from others questions that I used to ask, like:
    How many goats, feeding, health, breeding. Now I can answer questions like those because of you.
    Thank You

    • It’s great to hear that you are able to help others with what you’re learning on here! Happy Easter, and bless you for sharing your new knowledge!

  2. When is the time to deworm our kids (2-3 months old)? What brand of dewormer should we use? At what age do we do the CD&T shot? Thank you.

    • You should never deworm goats on a schedule. You only give dewormers to goats that are suffering negatively from a worm load. All goats have worms — just like all humans have bacteria living in our body. It’s not possible to kill all of the worms (or bacteria). In an ill-fated attempt to do that in the 1990s, we wound up with dewormer resistance in goats and sheep. Here is more information about dewormer resistance —
      You only use a dewormer if goats are losing weight, have diarrhea, bottle jaw, or poor body condition. In other words, like antibiotics, you should only use them to treat a sick animal.
      You can give the first CDT shot now.


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