How to make your own livestock electric fence

With careful planning and proper materials selection, making an electric livestock fence can become a reality for any livestock owner. Permanent electric fences need stronger wooden or steel posts and heavy-duty galvanised fencing wire. A temporary electric fence typically uses portable plastic or fibreglass posts and lightweight polywire. Regardless of the type of electric fence you make, remember to link the wires and energizer together using cable that has adequate insulation to minimise potential problems. As a rule, look for electric fence cable insulated for up to 20,000 volts.

Clear any excess vegetation and debris from the fence line. Clip the grass beneath the fence line to 2 inches or shorter. Hammer short wooden stakes into the ground to mark each corner post location.

Place the corner posts in the ground. If you choose wooden corner posts, dig a 24-inch-deep hole at each marked corner post location. Lift each post upright and insert the base in the hole. Fill the hole with packed dirt to secure the post in place. If you opt for steel T-posts as your corner posts (an appropriate choice for both permanent and temporary electric fences), drive them straight into the ground at the corner post locations with a post driver at a depth of 18 to 24 inches.

Tie a piece of string or polywire fencing material around the first corner post. Stretch this string to the remaining corner posts to mark the entire fence perimeter.

Place line posts in the ground along the outside edge of the marking line. Use steel T-posts for a permanent electric fence, installing them in 18- to 24-foot increments at a depth of 12 to 18 inches with a manual post driver. Insert push-in plastic or fibreglass posts in the ground approximately 6 to 8 inches using the built-in food tread, placing the posts in 12- to 18-foot increments.

Mount plastic insulators on the posts, using screw-in or clip-on corner post insulators for the corner posts and clip-on or slide-on insulators for the line posts. Position the bottom set of insulators approximately 6 to 8 inches from the ground. Mount a new set of insulators for each desired strand of electric wire, spacing each set of insulators every 5 to 8 inches along the height of the fence posts. Remember to position one of the top strands of the fence at a height that equals the shoulder height of the livestock species your fence will contain; for example, if your electric fence is for sheep with a shoulder height of 30 inches, then one of the top wires must be approximately 30 inches from the ground.

Feed a strand of electric wire through each set of plastic insulators, pulling the wires tight enough that they don't sag in between the posts. Start with the bottom set of insulators and work your way to the top of the fence until all the strands of electric wire are in place. Connect each strand of electric wire to the one directly above it using short lengths of insulated cable. Remove 1 inch of insulation from both ends of each cable strip and wrap the bare cable ends around the wire strands so they make direct metal contact.

Run a lead-out wire from the fence energizer to the electric fence. Cut a piece of cable long enough to reach between the energizer and the nearest part of the electric fence. Remove the last 1.5 inches of insulation from both cable ends. Twist one end of the wire cable around one of the charged fence wires. Twist the second end of the wire cable around the energizer's positively charged fence terminal. Inspect all the wire connections to make sure that they're solid, and then plug in the energizer and turn it on.


Accidental electrical shock could occur. Mount warning signs along the entire length of the fence, especially if it's near a road or walkway.

Things You'll Need

  • Weedeater/mower
  • Hammer
  • Wooden stakes
  • Steel or wood corner posts
  • Shovel
  • Post driver
  • String/polywire
  • Steel or plastic line posts
  • Plastic clip-on/screw-in corner post insulators
  • Plastic clip-on/slide-on line post insulators
  • Galvanised electric wire/plastic polywire
  • Insulated cable
  • Wire cutters
  • Grounded fence energizer
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About the Author

Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. She has produced content for various websites and graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.