The Anatomy of an Electric Fence

In our bodies, the leg bone is to connected to the hip bone and so on; in a fence, this is the order.

  • How a fence is put together.

    How a fence is put together.

    The terminal on the fence energizer marked “positive” or “to fence” is connected to a lightning protector, which is connected to the fence wire.

  • The terminal on the fence energizer marked “negative” or “to ground (or earth)” is connected to correctly spaced ground rods pounded deep into the dirt. Eight-foot rods should be spaced 10 feet apart, and 3-foot rods spaced 4 feet apart.
  • All connections should be made with insulated wire (commonly sold as “run-out” wire) rated for at least 10,000 volts.
  • Get an energizer big enough to push a minimum of 2,000 volts (as indicated by a fence tester) all the way to the far end of your fence for most domestic animals, and 4,000 volts for wild animals and sheep. Then space the wires appropriately for the animals.
  • When an animal connects the two sides of the circuit by touching a body part to the wire while its hooves or feet are on the ground, it’s like flipping a switch to “on.” But instead of lighting a bulb, the critter gets a shock.

This is derived from “Electric Fencing: How to Choose, Build, and Maintain the Best Fence for Your Plants and Animals” by Ann Larkin Hansen, available from Storey Publishing at

<< Read the full story, “Shock Therapy”