Troubleshooting A Livestock Electric Fence

Electric fences are used on many farms, to manage and contain livestock. If you are using electric fencing for your livestock such as cattle and horses, you also need to ensure you are following the correct animal safety guidelines and you should check these before any installation.

Although there are many different electric fencing types, every electric fence’s basic requirements are the same. An electric fence comprises a fence charger or energiser, fence wire/tape, ground wire, an earthing or ground system, and the lead-out wire.

What can go wrong?

If your existing electric fence system has stopped working, no doubt you would like to troubleshoot the problem first to see if you can repair it without having to call in the experts. Generally, there are only two main reasons why your electric fence isn’t working: there is no power getting to your electric fence wires or the power is not strong enough to charge the fence to be an effective deterrent.

To help the troubleshooting process there follows a list of key issues that are most likely to have caused you electric fence to stop working. Also, bear in mind it may have stopped working because of broken parts or faulty or damaged electrical components, which will then need to be replaced.

These are:

  • Breakages in the fence
  • Fault in the power supply
  • Faulty lead out wire
  • Fault in the earthing system
  • No voltage in the fence wires

Safety First

When troubleshooting your electric fence, it is obviously important to take a safety conscious approach. Go through each possible issue on the checklist thoroughly and if no fault is found, move on to the next issue. If a fault is found, take a view on how to fix it.

Remember you should  always use insulated gloves and rubber boots to protect yourself while troubleshooting and working on your electric fence.

To check if there is a breakage in your electric fence, walk the length of the fence whilst visually checking for any breakages that might have happened eg by a fallen branch. Also check that all the connectors are wired correctly with no loose wires. First off, check that the wiring is not broken but also check that it does not have any debris like trees, grass, or leaves touching it as this can adversely affect the fence. Also check for damaged insulators.

Of course, there might be fault in the power supply and electric charger or energiser. First check the power box to see if there is both intact power leading to the box and then from the box to the fence charger. Use a voltmeter tester (an essential piece of kit if you have an electric fence) to measure that the power output on the energiser is correct according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If your system uses an AC energiser, check that it is plugged into the primary power source and then check the main power source for low voltage output or no power at all. Alternatively, if your system uses DC or solar energisers, check the batteries before checking anything else to make sure they are fully charged. If the battery used as the power supply is not a sealed unit, monitor the battery cells’ electrolyte fluid level. Check the output and input terminals for corrosion.

If the above checks reveal nothing then you might also consider a blown fuse,energiser not being plugged in, a defective energiser (which will need to be repaired or replaced by a specialist), or the energiser might be incorrect or incompatible for the size and type of electric fence.

A faulty lead out wire is another possibility, and to check this you must turn off the power and disconnect both the lead wire and the earthing system from the primary system. After turning the power back on, check the voltage output on the lead-out wire with a voltmeter then reconnect the earthing system.

The earthing system itself may be the cause of the problem and to check this you need to

check the voltage of the ground system once it has been reconnected. If the voltage is defective, check the earth rods to see if any water has leaked into the system.

Remember, that if you are not experienced with handling electricity, it is best to consult an electrician for assistance where the issue is specifically electrical, rather than something like a line break.

If there’s no voltage in the electric fence wire you need to test each level of the fence for a power charge. Isolate and disconnect the other wire levels and only check one level at a time. Check for short circuits on the fence wire by using an AM radio. If interference occurs with the radio signal, check the part of the fence that is closest to the radio to check for damage.

If you decide, once you have discovered the cause of your electric fence fault, to repair it yourself make sure the repair is something you are able to undertake without specialist electrical knowledge. Remember, also, that it’s always worth speaking to an expert supplier who can advise you on all aspects of planning and installing an electric fence as well as providing all the different components and accessories.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to stay updated on featured projects, design news and insights across Africa.

I have read and agree to the privacy policy