Wires for Electric Fences

Wire Spinner

Permanent electric fence

High tensile (HT) 2.5 mm heavily galvanised plain wire with a breaking strain of 1.8 kN is recommended for permanent electric fences. Strain the wire to 1.5 kN. Theses figures are for steel wires. The new alloy wire has much lower resistance. The thinner the wire, the higher its resistance.

Wire spinner

If you use high tensile wire, use a wire spinner so the wire doesn’t become entangled.

Some manufacturers produce a special wire for permanent electric fencing. For example Gallagher have a range of long life, highly conductive wire for all permanent fencing systems including wires for leadouts and underground cables. Gallagher XL High Conductive wire is coated with aluminium (which triples conductivity when compared with standard 2.5 mm wire) and is suitable for most conditions including coastal conditions and overhead and offset leadouts. Another example is Permelec Electric Wire from OneSteel Waratah: it is a HT 2.5 mm wire that is strong but more ductile and easier to tie than normal HT wires. This is an advantage for tying knots around electric insulators.

On some farms with short runs, for example some dairies or small area farms, 1.6 or 1.8 mm HT is adequate. These wires have advantages over 2.5 mm; they are cheaper and lighter. The lighter wire means you can space the posts further apart and you don’t need droppers, which makes them even cheaper.

Table 1 Approximate electrical resistance of high tensile double galvanised fence wire

The thinner the wire, the higher its resistance. The above figures are for steel wires. The new alloy wire has much lower resistance.

You can see from Table 1 that the recommended 2.5 mm HT wire has the least resistance to current flow and so is suitable for long lengths of fence or low powered energisers.

You can also see from Table I that 1.6 mm HT wire has the greatest resistance to current flow it is suitable only for short fences or low powered energisers. After that there will be a low current reaching the animal at the end of the fence.

If your fence is longer than 11 km use the 2.5 mm wire or have more than one circuit in the fence. Each circuit has its own energiser. There is an advantage in buying an additional energiser: the cost of the extra energiser is offset by the cheaper materials and it is handy to have another one on the property in case of failure.

Safety note: Barbed wire

Barbed wire is not permitted for use in electric fencing because it is extremely dangerous for both animals and people who may become entangled in it. This warning applies especially when horses are in the paddock.

Electric netting fence

An electric netting fence, Electranets Masteifence, with a unique system that is not dependent on earth return, has been developed to control various animals including poultry. It is also used for strip grazing all stock as it is easily put up and taken down.

Temporary electric fences

HT wire is not suitable for temporary electric fences because of the difficulty in handling it. For strip grazing with well trained animals and short lengths of fence you can use 1.6 mm soft galvanised wire. It costs less and is easy to handle.

Some manufacturers sell a special soft wire for these fences. Tempelec from OneSteel Waratah is a flexible heavily galvanised wire designed for temporary electric fences and strip grazing.

Plastic Reels

Plastic twines are far easier to use than any form of conventional wire, which tends to tangle, kink and break repeatedly under regular use. They can be conveniently wound onto reels for recovery, moving and storage. They are suitable for strip grazing management and also for small sections of permanent fencing, for example gateways. We say small sections of the permanent fence because you probably need to replace them after 18 months.

These fences are of flimsy structure and are not designed to control a determined animal. Nevertheless, they are adequate for most animals trained to the fence.

NOTE: Never use household electrical cable; it is made for inside work only. Moreover, copper wire is incompatible with galvanised wire.