When Pete’s dad bought our first electric fence energiser secondhand from a garage sale, it came with a roll of electric fence polywire that turned out to be lots of short lengths joined together with knots. When we set up the energiser with this wire it did not provide a decent shock because all the joins did not connect all the wires properly.
If you have a good look at polywire you will find that it is several strands of very thin wire woven into a plastic mesh. The heavier duty more expensive polywire has more wires and stronger mesh. If you need to join two lengths of polywire, you need to make sure that all the individual wires are in contact to pass on the electrical charge down the fence. We ended up buying a new roll of polywire, and then the fence worked properly.
|melting the ends of the polywire|
Much later I came across the answer in one of the manuals that the electric fence companies give out (if you are interested in electric fencing, this is a great way to find out more, one example here).
You actually need to burn the ends of the polywire to expose the wires, then tie a knot further down the polywire, and join the two sets of exposed wires by twisting them. This makes a connection that is both physically and electrically sound. We have been joining polywire (and polytape) like this ever since and find that it works perfectly.
Now we are able to fix any faults in the wire and join up all the short lengths to make a useful roll of polywire. I also found out that you should do this at the end of the length of polywire anyway, to ensure that all the wires are connected electrically to each other.
|twist the exposed wires|
While I’m talking about faults in polywire, we find that it is really good for temporary fences, as its easy to roll up, but the more you roll it up, the more you risk breaking the thin wires in the plastic mesh. We have found that a larger roll causes less damage to the wires. We have been collecting larger spools to use, both from electricians (the spools that their bulk wires comes on) and welding wire spools. Look out for big spools around the place, they are very useful!
|Tie a knot to join the wires and then twist all the wires together|
For longer fences or for permanent fences, plain galvanised fencing wire is recommended because polywire wires are too thin to carry the electrical charge over longer distances (I have read that 100-200 m is the limit) and because the polywire doesn’t last well, particularly in the sun.
Using galvanised wire is more expensive, more difficult to wind up and not as visible to animals. Its a good idea to use something colourful on the wire to remind the animals that its there. We have problems with kangaroos hopping through our temporary polywire fences. Usually the wire doesn’t break, but some of the stakes might be pulled out and the fence compromised.
This can be annoying if you are trying to keep the cattle out of a certain area, but it is also dangerous if there is something that the cattle shouldn’t eat on the other side of the fence (e.g. lantana) or if you're trying to keep predators out.
This website is really good for electric fence advice.
Do you use polywire? Any other tips to add?
You can find out more here about how we use fencing on our farm.