View Full Version : How many strands of electric???

Feb. 3, 2010, 11:18 AM
Allright fellow COTHers, please help me out here.

We are trying to figure out what the best, safest, and most economical fencing will be for our new place. We have two Belgian draft horses. Right now (and for the last 8 months) they have been in a 2 acre pasture that has 3 strands of plastic coated wire and then one strand of the poly rope braid electric fence at the top. The posts are all wood, and they are about 12 feet apart I think. This fence has worked very well for them - they don't bother with it at all. However, this pasture is out in the back and not near any roads, so even if they did get out, they shouldn't be too close to any danger.

Now we are moving them to our new place - where they will be much closer to the roads. We can't afford to go with 4 board oak fencing or anything like that - that's totally out of the question. So, would it be better to use the same kind of wire, and then just add a second strand of electric? Or? Maybe go with the mesh fencing and the electric - especially along the road side?

Please help!

Feb. 3, 2010, 12:21 PM
Our standard is a four-wire or five-wire setup. The bottom strand, about 4" off the ground, is grounded and not electrified. The next strand is about 12" above that and is hot. The reason is that if the horse sticks it's head through the fence to graze they will likely be incontact with the ground wire when they hit the hot wire. It means a good "jolt" will be administered, reminding the horse that they ought not to do that.

We then put the wires about 18-24" apart. For normal sized horses this generally works out well. For larger horses we add the fifth wire. Or particularly "inquisitive" horses add the fifth wire.

Also ensure that your charges is properly grounded, all the connections sound, and keep vegitation off the wires.


Feb. 3, 2010, 11:55 PM
Ugh, I'm debating the SAME thing right now... literally sitting here thinking about it when I saw this! Our property borders a busy road also. The fence will be 5 1/2' tall and I'm pretty sure one 4.25" "flex rail" at the top with 6 strands of coated wire below. I got the coated hotwire for all of it and am debating how much to actually keep hot. I know I want to bottom strand hot because of dogs. I'm thinking maybe 3 hot and 3 not? I'd probably feel MOST comfortable with 4 strands, but only because we might have a stallion here. I personally wouldn't go less than 3 on a busy road, but that's just me!!

My Two Cents
Feb. 4, 2010, 11:44 AM
For years and years (when husbands parents owned the place) the road fence was a single strand of hot wire with those dreaded little round electric fence posts. Never a problem. When we bought the place, we put up a 5 foot high 3 board 2 x 6 fence with 4 strands of hot electric wire. The wire runs on top and between the boards. We've had at least five escapes thru or over the boards. Funny thing is it's the same horses that have been in that pen for years. It makes me wonder if we just offered them a challange to see if they can get out. Go figure.

Feb. 4, 2010, 11:57 AM
For years and years (when husbands parents owned the place) the road fence was a single strand of hot wire with those dreaded little round electric fence posts. Never a problem. When we bought the place, we put up a 5 foot high 3 board 2 x 6 fence with 4 strands of hot electric wire. The wire runs on top and between the boards. We've had at least five escapes thru or over the boards. Funny thing is it's the same horses that have been in that pen for years. It makes me wonder if we just offered them a challange to see if they can get out. Go figure.

LOL - thats funny! So maybe I had better not suddenly make the road fence so much more different than the rest of the fence, or they will be wondering why its like that - and maybe they should investigate ;)

With the fencing that they are in now - I have had two escapes. The one was when I had the gate open, and thought that just the one wire across would be enough to keep them in while I drove the gator through. Well, didn't the gelding promptly walk over and DUCK under the wire to get out!!!! It must have shocked his back while he slid underneath, as he was touching it the whole time! But luckily the mare decided against it, and once he realized he was all alone on the other side of the fence, he decided to come back :)

The other escape - well it wouldn't have mattered what type of fencing we had in place - the mare was running full tilt and couldn't stop because she was on ice :( - she crashed through the fence and flipped herself over to the other side! Actually, she didn't have a hair out of place when all was said and done - however we do have a post to replace now :( But she was going to crash through the fence no matter what type was there - she was really trying not to (she's young still, and I think she learned a lesson that day about galloping and snow/ice). We are just lucky she didn't get hurt!

Feb. 4, 2010, 12:02 PM
Hey, well I've seen horses bounce of the flex "stuff" so maybe this will help her. :)

2 cents... Did you change your charger or ground rods when you switched? Have you tested the fence line? If so, then I'd try adding a wire offset to the inside so they hit that before the fence.

Feb. 4, 2010, 03:24 PM
I've kept horses on the same property for 18 years with a 5 strand electric wire fence with fiberglass posts. (I only have 3 strands on the cross fencing though) The only escapes were through an open gate. I live on a country road where the speed limit is 45 mph but, of course, very few people actually go that slow but I'm not worried. Once my horses are aware of the fence line (newbies get walked around the entire perimeter) I never have a problem with anyone running through the fence. I've had a few newbies "test" the fence, they don't usually repeat the excercise. I keep my fence in good repair and we check often to make sure it is still hot. I'm convinced that I could turn it off for weeks and my horses still wouldn't test it.

My Two Cents
Feb. 4, 2010, 08:03 PM
dmalbone - Fencer works great. It's an older one that will about knock your eye teeth out if you accidently touch it. Some careless human tests it every so often. Husband grew up on the farm with cattle and has the electric fence stuff down to a science. Our fence wrecks have all been done at high rates of speed so an extra wire on this one would only be one more to fix. lol. I just don't get it. It's not like they can't see it. We joked around and called it the "fortress" when we were building it because we never dreamed any of our horses could or would jump or otherwise crash through it. We used 6 by 8 post and 2 x 6 boards. 4 times we had to replace top broken boards and once a fat 4 year old quarter horse cleared the five foot fence but landed on a bush hog on the other side and is permanently lame. We had a yearling snap in fetlock joint in that pen (freak accident) and he too managed to get out of there before the vet could get there to put him down.

Firefilly - I guess it doesn't matter what you build with. At some point they end up on ther other side so pick something that will be the least likely to do much permanent damage.

Feb. 5, 2010, 09:36 AM
I prefer the woven wire or livestock fencing with a strand or two of hot wire. I like a more "solid" barrier between the horses and goats and the busy road we live on. Also, we've had the top hot strand taken down by deer that could have been bad if that was all we had. It keeps dogs out- and my dogs in when I bring them out for their daily runs. That said, about 2 miles away on a VERY busy road there is a farm that had ONE strand of electric( looked like cable) and only once in the 30 + years that they had horses did anyone escape. ( And it was pretty spectacular, but luckily, nobody was hurt). It might depend on your location, personality of your horses and other animals, if any what will work for you. We interspace with wood posts( telephone poles at the corners) and T- posts with caps. I have "hot" tape at the top as a visual and a hot strand about 2'from the bottom to keep the goats from standing at the fencing.

Feb. 5, 2010, 03:44 PM
Keeping the fence HOTT is far more important than how many strands. A horse can usually find a way to fall over, jump, knock down, roll through etc. most any fence. If they respect the fence, it's far less likely they will escape.

Feb. 5, 2010, 04:29 PM
I think Electric is always safer! Use at least 3 strands but most manufactures will have the number of strands they recommend. Example ElectroBraid is 4 (because one strand is the ground), Finish line is 5 (not electric however), so keeping in mind what the fence type is and what they recommend is best. You can also look at Break strength on the different types of fence. Example WhiteLightning a coated wire is 1400 lbs (per strand) and HotRail 5" flex rail is 4400 lbs (per strand) that is also very helpful in making such a big decision. The fence manufacture will also give you the recommended post space. I would stick with either the ELECTRIC coated wire or the 5" flex fence (or combination of them) for a busy road! Good thinking ahead!!!

Oct. 21, 2010, 09:22 PM
Busy road - highway speeds

posts all 5" cedar at 5ft tall

electric rope hot at top of fence

3 strands of Horsecoat 12.5 ga hi tensile spaced below

Draft horses respect it, our newest OTTB tried jumping it - got tangled briefly in top rope and pulled one staple from Horsecoat - broke end of rope (thankfully)
minor marks on front legs, slight rope burn across neck, wounded pride and half an hour repair

Absolutely love the coated hi tensile wire

Oct. 21, 2010, 10:20 PM
The hotcote coated wire is fabulous. Visible, strong, and HOT. Chippy bounced off our four strands of coated HT at full gallop before he knew it was there - we'd literally just nailed the last staple... He was simply embarrassed, not a mark on him. If it was only my fence between horses and road; That would be my choice of fence. I've replaced too many broken boards over the year to be in love with board fence anymore. Beyond a certain age it's just waiting to fall apart at a knot in the board.

Run it on the inside, 4 strands, hot/cold/hot/cold from top to bottom, so only two strands (top and 3rd down) need to be hot. Done.

Basque Mom can tell you all about it.

Oct. 21, 2010, 10:25 PM
5 strand coated wire, top and bottom wire hot. My one welshie has learned just how far she can reach under to nibble grass without touching it :)

Oct. 22, 2010, 11:27 AM
I use 4 strands of Electrobraid for permeter fencing and 3 strands of 1.5" tape for interior fencing.

I don't like starting fencing lower than 16 inches.......to close to the ground and a chance for pawing feet to get caught on it. Plus it requires too much work to keep grass and weeds away from it. My ground is the second one down from the top as recommended by the company.

I start my top line at 54" to 56" and space every 16" to 18".


Oct. 22, 2010, 11:43 AM
We just put in 5 strands of polycoat with the top and 4th strands hot. It is a wonderful fence. The rest is field fence with one strand of electrified wire on top, which works great so far but worries me. It is pretty new (installed by previous owners) but as it ages it will get replaced with polycoat.