Don't you love those beautiful white post and rail fences which surround horse paddocks? I did until I found out how much they cost to put up and to maintain. But... I wanted one!
Paddock fences do take some serious consideration and not just as to how good they look. Things to consider are:
What material do you want to build your fence out of?
How big is your budget?
Do you want the fence to be a permanent structure or should it be 'movable'?
How much time (and money) do you want to invest in maintaining your fence?
Is it safe?
Well, if you are like me what you would like and what you actually can afford are two totally different things. Though I would have liked a nice looking post and rail fence, I opted for the next best thing... an electric fence.
I can hear you ask ... why is that the next best thing? Ah, because, when my electric fence is finished, it'll look very much like a post and rail fence, cost me a smidgen of what a post and rail fence would cost me, is safe for my horses, and is 'relocatable' should I decide that the lay-out of my paddocks isn't working after all. It doesn't require much maintenance other than the occasional charging of the 12 V deep cycle battery so I have more time to spend with my horses. The fence is also safe for my horse as they respect the electric fence and the sleeves over the steel posts are highly visible.
How did I build it?
Essentially the fence is put up using steel posts spaced 4 meters apart, electric 40mm tape and PVC sleeves to put over the steel posts to make them horse safe. Currently I am only running one 'rail' but I am going to install a second 'rail' about 60 cm from the first one, that is, once I am convinced the lay-out of the paddocks works.
How big is my budget?
Should really be... how tiny is my budget. I budgeted for $2500 to put up fencing for 4 paddocks and 2 feeding yards.
Here is a rough breakdown of how much it cost me so far:
60 Steel posts $240.00
60 Equine Post Sleeves $657.00
400 m of 40mm of Electric Fence Tape $198.00
60 insulators $168.00
4 tape gates $120.00
Fence Energizer $150.00
1 x 12 V Deep Cycle Battery $215.00
50 Horse Caps $125.00
1 Post Driver and 1 Post Puller $ 75.00
Total so far: $2088.00
Well... ? What
do you think? Remember this is still a work in progress and the finished fence line is in the back of the photo, but you should be getting the idea. I still have $500 spare to allow
me to buy more tape and insulators for the second 'rail'.
Oh... if you want to know where I got the idea and all the important information from to build an electric fence... Check out this website... it's full of information for the 'electric fence builder'.
Ok fencing is taken care of... what's next... oh yes... pasture....
The New and Improved
Well, the fencing didn't quite work as I had anticipated. Why you may ask?
I got a new horse and she didn't have any respect for my single strand electric fence, ducking under it at every opportunity. I never had such trouble with Stubby or Schooner, probably because they had electric fencing experience whereas Firefly never saw an electric tape fence before.
So... off fault finding and improving the fence.
Firstly... I touched the fence and ... yep I could feel a tickle but no real jolt and if I held the tape I was quite capable of ignoring the 'tickle'. No wonder than that Firefly couldn't feel anything. She is covered in insulation, that is, her hair.
Secondly... I didn't have a good Earth. I consulted my Electric Fence Manual (see link above) and discovered that if the soil is really dry or your soil is sandy, getting a descent Earth, especially over longer distances, is close to near impossible. Guess what... I have both, bone dry sandy soil. to remedy this I need to run an Earth Return Wire, make sure I use galvanized and NOT black star pickets and run an Earth strap every so often (attached from the Earth Return Wire to the galvanized post under my Equisleeves).
So off I toddled and got myself some more electric tape, though this time I only got th 12.5mm one. I couldn't find any easily attachable insulators for it, so I just wound the tape around the posts. At least for now, it's not supposed to be a permanent solution.
I also got myself a more powerful energizer for the fence.
Result... Firefly has learned to respect the electric fence.
Here are the pictures of the new and improved fence. You can also clearly see the Equisleeve posts now neatly surrounding my paddocks.