Electric Fence and Goats/Sheep

We received an email one time, about 5 or 6 years ago, from a frustrated and aggravated consumer of electric fence. He had a group of goats, I think pygmy goats, that would not respect the electric fence. He just bought the charger about 3 days before.

We knew that emailing back and forth was going to take too much time, so we told him to call us, and he did within a couple of hours. Here’s a list of questions that we asked him to get the ball rolling, his answers are in italics.

Do you have an electric fence tester?
Yes, I’ve got a digital one, but can’t remember what brand.

What voltage readings are you getting on the tester?
I’m getting anywhere from 7.3kv to 7.9kv (7,300 – 7,900 volts)

Hmm, I was thinking to myself, that’s pretty good voltage and that should be fine. So I asked him some more questions.

What model of charger is it? I’m not going to say the brand, I’m not advertising the name here.
It’s a 3 joule unit, and I’m only fencing in about half an acre. I don’t get it.

How many ground rods do you have, how deep in the ground are they, and how far apart?
At the moment I’ve got 3 – 6′ ground galvanize ground rods, almost all the way buried, and spaced around 10′ apart. I’m also using the galvanize ground clamps and some leftover high tinsel fence wire to tie them together. It’s pretty good soil here, not too rocky and we just got about an inch of rain. I said what the hell, I’m grabbing the wire……big mistake. It lit me up and sat me down.

Hmmm, that should be good enough for grounding with that size charger and soil conditions. He’s getting nearly 8kv on the fence, and it shocked him, but not the goats. What the heck is going on?!

That’s when a light bulb went off above my head. A goat’s hair is hollow and it acts like an insulator. I told him, you need to take the charger back and step up to the next size charger. I told him with certain animals, even the non-aggressive types, you sometimes have to get a bigger charger than normal in order to get the point across to them.

He said, “That makes sense, I’m going there real soon and bump it up a size!”

So about 4 days go by and I don’t get a call or an email from him. So I’m thinking, “Well, everything either went really well or he’s been chasing goats for the past 4 or 5 days.” About 3 hours later I get a call from him. He’s all excited and thrilled, and this is what he says to me.
“I want to thank you for explaining to me joules and grounding and everything else!” “The goats are finally respecting the fence and won’t go near it!”
I asked him if went to the next size up and he said no. He said the store didn’t have the next size up in stock, so he went two sizes bigger. It was a 10 or 12 joule unit.

Then he started laughing and said this…
“The first time I hooked it up and let the goats out, they walked up to the fence like normal, but slammed on their breaks and looked at the fence with a stupid look on their face!” “So I just stood back and watched to see what happened next.”

“It took one very curious goat to walk to the fence wire while the others waited and watched.” “The one goat stuck his nose close to the wire, and a big snap sound went off, he made a funny sound and ran, the others ran too just from the big snap sound!”
“Ever since then, the goats won’t even get close to the fence wire, maybe within 4 feet, but that’s it!”

He thanked me again and said he’d call me if something else came up. It made us feel pretty good that we gave our recommendations, the customer listened and learned, and everything worked the way it should’ve.

So with goats, probably sheep too, you’re going to need a little bit bigger of a charger just to get the point across that the fence means bad. Once they get shocked a time or two, they’ll be pretty gun shy and they’ll respect the fence.

Please feel free to add any comments or post any of your stories about animals and their experience with electric fence.

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