If you are going to hold your goats in with an electric fence goat you need to know how they work. There are four basic parts of an electric fence goat project:
The Ground Connection. The ground connection is also connected to the energizer and provides the ground path back from the land mass, and the animal receiving the shock to the energizer to complete the circuit.
The Live or Active Fence Wire. This is the wire that is run along a fence line and mounted on insulators. The pulse is injected onto the line ever second or so and if a goat is touching it, the electric pulse travels through the animal (or you if you are unlucky to be touching the wire) to the ground. The wire may be a high tensile steel fencing wire, or a woven polywire or a tape in temporary systems.
The Line Insulators. These support the live wires on the fence posts and stop any voltage escaping into the poles and posts. They may be made from porcelain or plastic.
The Ground Connection. The ground connection must be good, in most cases where this is not in good soil or making sufficient contact to provide a good ground, this is most prevalent in dry sandy soils. It is also necessary in many cases to interconnect other fence wires within the main fence and bring back a wire to the ground rod to ensure good ground path connectivity. This is because the main fence is usually made of timber posts which are insulators. In some cases simply driving in rods at regular intervals around a fence line and then connecting all the fence wires to it helps make a good ground is all that is needed. Where a fence is made from steel star pickets and with fence wires running through them, the ground is always very good. Bad grounding is often a cause for poor fence performance.
The Live Fence Wire. The single greatest cause of poor fence performance is a low voltage than the rated output at the energizer. In many cases the AC pulse is supposed to be 5 or 6 thousand volts. You can use a purpose made fence tester to check the voltage, which clips or hangs on the live wire and a lead clips to a ground, usually one of the other fence wires. If you find the voltage is low these are the most common causes in order of probability. You may start to find your goats are getting out and have already learnt that the wire voltage is low or gone. The worst thing is you often have to retrain your goats when the wire is repaired, and that is another entirely different challenge for electric fence goat projects.
Check 1. Check the fence line live wire for branches or sticks or some other material lying across the wire and shorting to ground. I often find that after a storm or strong winds this happens.
Check 2. Check that the live wire does not have grass growing up under it and it is touching in places and this shorts the wire out to ground and reduces the voltage. This is really noticeable after rain or a heavy dew make tracking much easier.
Check 3. Check that the live wire is not touching a part of main fence wires. This sometimes happens where it is relatively close to the wires, or a loose end is touching.
Check 4. Check that the live wire is not broken. This usually happens at end points where the termination at an insulator isn’t made properly.
Check 5. Check that the live wire insulators are not broken or covered in dirt as this sometimes can happen and the voltage tracks across the insulator.
The best check you can do is to regularly walk or ride your fence lines and make a visual inspection and a voltage check every few weeks. If you wait until your goats get out then it’s all too late to worry about goat fencing. Trust me! I know this from experience! Go back to the beginning and learn more about practical goat farming and the electric fence goat.