When considering options for your rotational grazing operation, it is important to consider a variety of factors which may impact what type of fencing you consider. Durability, containability, conductivity, and cost are all factors to consider when looking at your options, and its important not to completely overlook any of these individual factors.
We take pride in the quality of our polybraid and woven wire products, and hear time and time again from farmers who prefer these over electric netting. In this post we overview three popular types of fencing, looking at their pros and cons. If you have any questions about these fence types, or which options might best suit your individual operation, feel free to give us a call at 417-741-1230!
What factors impact your electric fence buying decision?
Fence Durability: How long will your fence last after It’s set up? Will it survive a tree fall? Will it survive being trampled by deer or other wildlife?
Fence Containability: What types of livestock can your fence easily contain? For example can your goats (who like to jump/climb) be contained? Will deer (who can jump 8 feet or more) be deterred from a strong shock?
Fence Conductivity: What size energizer do you need to adequately power your fence? Will the conductivity of your fence adequately contain your sheep, cows, pigs, horses, or other livestock?
Fence Price: How much does your fence cost in relation to its durability? Will you be breaking the bank to set up your fence, only to have to replace the fence on a regular basis?
Evaluating Fence Types
Every fence type has its strengths and weaknesses. There is no perfect solution to fencing that will meet all your requirements, but you can consider the pros and cons of each fence type in order to make your decision on what fencing system is best suited to your farm. Often times, a mixed solution using multiple fence types is the way to go. For example, a permanent Hi Tensile perimeter mixed with a more semi-permanent solution like polybraid can offer the best of both worlds. While the Hi Tensile set up makes a secure and highly conductive perimeter, the polybraid makes for a portable options allowing the grazer to set up a wide variety of paddock options for their livestock.
A common mistake made by new grazers is to prioritize cost over durability and conductivity. Especially at first, it seems like the cheaper options makes for the better solution. We have found that the longer a grazer is in operation, the more they prioritize quality over cost. You might spend two times less on a cheap product, but have to replace it four times more frequently! Another common mistake is to prioritize perceived simplicity over anything else. For example with electric netting, all the posts are pre-woven in with the fencing, and from a beginners perspective it may seem more simple than dealing with reels, rolls of polybraid, posts, and connectors individually. But once the grazer starts wrestling with their roll of electric netting, they may quickly realize that what seemed simple at first becomes a major pain point, impacting their ability to work efficiently. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each fence type, so that you can better consider your options and determine what setup is best for your farm.
Polybraid is a fence type designed for portability, reliability, and conductivity. It is a braided twine, and unlike other “polywire” types which are only twisted, polybraid can be up to 3x stronger through the way it is braided alone. A stainless steel, tined copper (tinner copper prevents corrosion), or mixed metal will be braided in, allowing for conductivity to travel through the entire length of the polybraid with minimal loss of conductivity. A variety of factors impact the quality of your polybraid, including tightness of the braid, strength of the twine, and conductivity of the wire. Powerflex Polybraid is widely regarded as the strongest and highest conductivity polybraid on the market.
Through conductivity tests, we have noticed that our polybraid products hold nearly 100% of their conductivity, even with significant distance covered. Our testing has also shown a 300 LB breaking point, making Powerflex polybraid the highest quality Polybraid you can find. Our customers tell us Powerflex PolyBraid is the most conductive and best overall poly product they've ever used.
- Over 300 LB breaking point
- When pulled on, the braided wire compresses rather than stretches out, twist wire (polywire) will stretch 2x as much and filaments will break where braid will not
- Polybraid is abrasive resistant lasts longer
- Easy to move and setup
- Lasts 10+ years with heavy use
- Highly conductive
- Must use line reels if moving often
- Must use step in posts for large divides
Choosing a Post for your Polybraid
Just as important as what kind of fence you buy, is what kind of post you buy. While our fiberglass post is a popular choice for high tensile electric woven wire, our temporary tredaline posts are all the rage for grazers looking to have a good balance between portability and durability in their temporary posts. Typical temporary posts from the hardware store are brittle and corrode easily with sun and time. You will find our O'Brien Tredaline posts to be much stronger and longer lasting.
Much like our premium polybraid products, our O'Briens tredaline posts are widely regarded as some of the strongest you can buy. Get rid of your old brittle posts and replace them with these posts that will stand the test of time.
Electric netting is a fence type designed for simplicity and minimal parts management. It is a grid pattern fence, generally using polywire (twisted rather than stronger braided twine), with the fence posts tied into the roll of electric netting. Often times these fence posts will have either single spike or double spike at the base of the posts, where the posts are put into the ground. Some grazers find double spike to be more convenient, especially in rocky soil, because the post can be driven into the ground by stepping on the flat part of the double spike. Other grazers prefer a single spike, which makes for the fence to be much more easily rolled without pieces of the fence getting stuck in a double spike. While electric netting is a relatively simple system that can be adequate for a small homesteader, it can also have a short shelf life, be a nuisance to use, difficult to maintain conductivity, and be extremely costly relative to other options.
- Posts don't need to be managed separately
- Woven pattern increases predation security
- The most expensive option in terms of price per foot
- Difficult to manage and move. Rolls can get tangled easily
- Not great durability. Polywire and twine can tear easily
- Low conductivity. Requires strong energizer relative to the length of fence
Hi Tensile Woven Wire
Hi Tensile is a fence type designed for permanence, durability, and conductivity. It is the best fence type for a permanent fence solution, and will have the longest shelf life of any other fence type you can consider. While the permanence of a Hi Tensile fence is ideal, the amount of work and tooling required to install it is higher than other fence types. Typically you will need a spinning jenny, gripple tool, gripples, insulators, and permanent corner posts before you can consider installing this fence type. Other components may be required depending on what type of high tensile system you are installing, and the options in this regard can be extensive. While the complexity of installing a Hi Tensile fence system can be slightly higher than other fence types, the cost can often be quite effective, especially if you are doing a single, double, triple, or four strand system. When it comes to setting up a electric permanent fence, there really is no better option than Hi Tensile.
While single strand Hi Tensile systems can be adequate for some livestock containment (such as cattle or horses), it may not offer the predator protection desired by someone raising smaller ruminants (like sheep or goats). For this reason, many grazers prefer a woven wire set up. This is why Powerflex Fence offers a Hi Tensile Woven Wire product, which not only offers the coverage of a woven wire fence, but also offers the benefits of a highly conductive electrified system. Many farmers are surprised to learn that you can electrify a woven wire system. Typically you can’t, but with the high quality and conductivity of our woven wire system, it is an ideal solution that can be easily achieved with an adequate energizer.
Powerflex Woven Hi Tensile wire is renowned for its strength and conductivity. It is not uncommon for our woven wire to withstand a tree fall without breaking or losing significant conductivity.
- Strong and durable 12.5 gauge, can often withstand a tree fall
- Class 3 galvanized, corrosion resistant
- Fixed knots. Solid knots tied to vertical strands make for a much stronger fence
- Low cost per foot
- Strong predation prevention
- Very highly conductive
- Not portable
- Tooling & Labor to install
We hope this post has been informative and helpful in your fence buying decision. While there are many options on the market, as any seasoned farmer will tell you, it is more important to emphasize quality and durability over temporary cost. Constantly replacing products can add up quickly. Luckily, Powerflex fence offers the highest quality products at affordable prices. Another important factor in electric fence set up is choosing the right energizer and setting up adequate grounding. This will be the subject of our next blog post.
If you have any questions about our premium Polybraid, O'Brien Tredaline posts, Taragate reels/Gallagher reels, Electric woven wire, Gripple tools, Gripples, Energizers, or any of our other products feel free to reach out! We pride ourselves in quality customer service, and would be happy to guide you through the electric fence decision process.