Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been having a few challenges with our electric fencing. It doesn’t always seem to be working. I have two main methods of testing it, the first is to watch the pigs and see how close to the wire they go. If it’s live they are very careful around it, though sometimes still get pushed onto the wire, resulting a yelp and the sight of a piggy bottom disappearing into the distance. The other method is to use a pair of pliers to cause a short and watch the sparks. Actually, there is a third method where I accidentally electrocute myself, but I try and avoid that.
Our electric fence has four main roles:
- Protect the poultry from foxes
- Stop the pigs getting out
- Stop the cows and sheep from getting into the south facing slope field, and thence potentially to the road
- Generally protecting the physical fences from the animals – the electric stops them challenging the fence and slowly breaking it down
Of these the first is the most critical, as an extended lapse could see us lose all our chickens, again, and maybe even the ducks. So I generally keep an eye out for the fence operation and try and fix any shorts as soon as I spot them.
The fence didn’t seem to be operating at all and I walked round several times to try and identify the cause. The most likely seemed to be the pigs, who’ve mounded up quite a lot of the earth against one of the fences, and that was connecting with the wire. When it was still muddy it was particularly bad (you can see the wire going into the mud on the left hand side) :
The frost has meant it’s not quite so bad, but there still have been some lumps touching the wire. I’m trying to feed them a little further away from the fence to stop them doing this.
However, this still didn’t fix the problem. On another trip round I found that some of the barbed wire round the top of the poultry orchard had become caught up with the electric fence, and that was definitely shorting it out. I fixed that, and had another look. Everything seemed good, but I still thought the wire wasn’t working.
It wasn’t, because I’d turned it off while fixing the wire covered in the mud! So I turned it back on, and finally it seemed to be working. I’m still nervous about it though, so I’ve been checking it more carefully than I usually do, just to make sure I catch anything early before it turns into a major problem.