Electric fence: is it on or off

Pooh BearJuly 16, 2006

I posted a while back about fencing most of my yard off

and letting a neighbor's cows keep it cleaned off for me.

My neighbor supplied all the fence material, and I put up the fence.

It is an electric fence. It is entirely in the flood plain of the river.

So sometimes he turns off the section that goes to the river.

So, except for actually touching it to find out (that hurts),

how can I tell if it is on or off at any given time.

I'm sure I could buy some kind of tester.

But I just need a simple (cheap or free) method to test it.


Pooh Bear

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sharon_sd(SW ON)

Take a LONG blade of grass and hold it up to the fence. If it is on, it should snap.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 7:39AM
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Pooh Bear

Should the blade of grass be picked or still growing (attached).

I do hear it snap sometimes when something gets against it.
But all of my part was cleaned off so I could put up the fence.
So there is nothing to get against it there.

BTW - So far I love having the cows up in my yard.
No smell or flies so far. And they are cleaning out the woods.


Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 1:09PM
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patrick_nh(z4/5 NH)

They sell a red light device that hangs from the fence which flashes when the fence is off, letting you know even from the house. I've had one for several years, and I love it. It's not free, about $20, but you could always continue with the no cost touch and find out method. Or you can buy a fence tester at any grain store. There are several types, and some for maybe even $5 or so, but you have to touch them to the fence everytime. For the added convenience I love my unit that tells me from accross the yard with just a glance.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 4:05PM
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cheribelle(Z5 IA)

Do Not use the touching grass to the fence routine! I did that as a kid, just to see if it'd shock thru the grass. WOW, It Did!
We use a screwdriver with a good plastic handle. Touch the metal part close to the handle on the metal post, and then put the other end against the wire. If you have a good clean spot it will arc when it's on. I always wiggle it against the post, to make sure it will make a connection.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 5:45PM
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kimberlee(z5 IN)

Put one end of a fluorescent tube light bulb on the ground and the other end against the wire. The wire should be between the contact points and the bulb turned so they each touch the wire. You can leave it until the bulb burns out. It will flash when the fence pulses. Fairly inexpensive. Measure the height of the top wire to give you an idea of what length of bulb to purchase.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 12:27AM
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Pooh Bear

I'll have to give that one a try. Sounds good.

I'm not needing to know at all times that the fence is on.
It gets turned off sometimes. I'd just like to know when it is on or off.
I incorporated into my section a way to disconnect it and turn it off.
But I have been wondering if it the power is working at all.


Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 3:17AM
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you can get a simple tester really cheap... ive seen them online for less than $3.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 11:26AM
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Ours at the box has a beeping sound we just listen to make sure we hear it.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 6:03PM
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We have miles and miles of electric fence. Always test them with a long handled screwdriver with a plastic handle - like cheribelle says. Just rub the metal part of the screwdriver on the fence to see if it arcs. My 8 year old has mastered it - he knows how to check the fence to see if it is hot.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 4:14PM
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That is the best advice evar! I can't wait to line up a bunch of flourescent tubes on my pulse fense the next time I throw a shindig. Thanks!!!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 1:28AM
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sharon_sd(SW ON)

Don't forget that on is not the same as working. An electric fence will ground out when a lot of vegetation comes in contact with it. So actual inspection of the fence line is important to check whether grass or weeds are invading.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 7:42AM
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Pooh Bear

I have it setup so I can take a section down in 5 minutes,
mow it, then put it right back up. And I can shut the cows out.

I mostly only needed to check and see if it was working from the start.
I had to turn it off to hook up to the other fence.
And I wasn't sure if I got it hooked back up properly.
I got the man that owns the cows to check it and it is ok.
So it must be on in my section now.
One morning when the grass is heavy with dew
I can open one of the gates (single strand) and drop it to the ground.
It will tick real loud if it is on and working.


Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 10:33AM
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Pooh Bear

The Cow Man came by this morning and tested the fence.
It was on. He has a tester. Interesting little gadget.

Had some escapees this morning. The fence down by the river
was turned off. A cow managed to push a gate open.
About 20 cows got out. They stayed down around the river.
Lots of kudzu and other plant material to eat down there.
When I found out they were loose I quickly got a roll of
barb wire and stretched it from a corner of my fence to
a guardrail that comes out along the river. I did this
so they would be contained down there and not get in the road.
The Cow Man said they wouldn't cross the guardrail.
But if they walked far enough up river they could go around
the other end. I plan on eventually fencing that area too.
I have been trying to clean that area up and the cows do
a better job than I do. I'm amazed at what they have done so far.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 2:05PM
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Pooh Bear

The best way I have found to test the fence after all this time,
is to put on my work gloves and just touch the fence.
The gloves keep me from getting a bad shock,
but I can feel enough of it to know whether it is on or not.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 5:15PM
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dunwaukin(Ontario 5b)

I second the 'just touch it' school of thought. If you are wearing rubber boots, the shock from it shouldn't be that bad. use the back of your hand - it's drier, and won't conduct electricity as well. Better if you have gloves on, or through your coat, but big deal, you only hold on for one shock.

The worst shock I ever got was sneaking under a fence. I was on my hands and knees, was too high, and hit the fence with my back. And it had just rained a day or two before. WOW! No wonder the horses really feel it - their feet are directly in contact with the ground, so they must really feel it.

I've used a blade of grass. If you're using a fencer that is sized appropriately for your fence, it shouldn't be that bad. I only get out the voltmeter if we're having trouble, and need to know how much voltage is getting through.

And i wouldn't test the fence standing in the water.

We also have one of the 'redlight-fence is off' things that was mentioned above. They're good to have, but difficult to see in the sunshine.

As i tell my girls, suck it up, feel the fence.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 9:56PM
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Happy2BeeME(4a NH)

nope! not me, no way no how... i'm not touching the fence, you can't make me.

I carry a tester in my pocket. paid $2 for it at the farm store.

-karyn :)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 8:39PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

The energizer for the fence has a light on it that flashes when it pulses. If the fence isn't on, it either won't flash or will flash much differently. Also, many energizers will make a sound when they pulse--just listen for it. The pitch will change if the fence is shorted out.

If you aren't near the fencer, just take any wood handled metal tool and short the fence to a metal post in the ground ro any other conductor leading to the ground and watch for a spark--an irrigating shovel, a hoe, a pitchfork, a rake, anything. I typically use the irrigating shovel since that is what I'm carrying, but have had a short piece of wire tied onto a piece of stick so that I can touch the fence with one end of the wire while the other end reaches the ground.

If all else fails, pee on the fence.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 2:47AM
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Pee On It...

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 7:39AM
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Pee on it? LOL

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 6:46PM
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just touch it shocks arent that bad you will get used to them. Quick touch u get minor shock and then you know for sure, i have done it for so long i have to wait until bone clicks dont even notice the shock lol

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 11:13AM
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