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Excluding deer and other wildlife from
your garden with energized fences
designed and maintained energized fences are effective at reducing
deer damage to gardens. Energized fences are inexpensive to maintain
and can last for many years. However, an energized fence is not a
physical barrier against deer entry. An energized fence acts as a
psychological barrier which some animals will continually test for an
entry location. It is important that an energized fence be properly
installed, maintained, and powered at all times. For best results,
install and energize your fence prior to spring planting.
NOTE: Check local fencing ordinances before investing in an
energized fence. They are prohibited in some municipalities.
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The four critical components of an effective energized fence
- a high voltage, low impedance energizer capable of delivering
a minimum of 5000 volts to the fence under all conditions;
- an adequate electrical grounding system;
- proper wire and post spacing; and
- monitoring of the fence power status with a digital
- A high voltage, low impedance energizer delivers a short
(0.003 second), painful, but safe shock to deer. The short pulse
will not set fire to plants contacting the wires, nor injure
humans or animals.
- Energizers may be powered by 110-120 volt household current, a
12-volt battery, or D-cell alkaline batteries.
- Household current (110-120 volt) is the most reliable and
maintenance free power source for most gardeners. Electrical costs
are minimal. Deep cycle marine batteries are recommended for
12-volt energizers. Solar panels are simply a recharging system
for battery powered energizers. Use a 110-volt energizers for
gardens that require year-round protection.
- Install 110-volt energizers in a shed, garage, or other
building and bury insulated underground cable from the energizer
to the fence. Protect your 110-volt energizer with a single outlet
surge protector. Hang D-cell energizers directly from the fence
- Install the energizer and grounding system prior to installing
posts and wire. Energize all fence wires.
- Remember, the shocking power of the fence deters the deer. The
fence is the delivery system; it is not a physical barrier and
will not be effective unless constantly energized (turn the fence
off only for maintenance).
- Use a minimum of three, 6-foot galvanized steel grounding
rods. Avoid copper. Additional rods may be necessary in sandy
soils. Drive ground rods so that approximately 3-4 inches remain
above the surface to attach the ground cable from the energizer.
- Place ground rods at least 10 feet apart in the wettest soil
Wire and Posts
- Recommended wire spacing for deer from the ground up: 12",
20", 28", 36", and 44".
- Use 8-foot by 4-inch treated wood posts with insulators at the
corners. Place the wide end of wooden posts in the ground. Lean
corner posts slightly away from the pull of the fence. Back fill
and tamp wooden posts. You will need at least 46 inches of the
post above ground.
- You may use electroplastic or polywire, seventeen gauge steel
wire, or light gauge twisted steel cable. Polywire with a minimum
of nine strands of stainless steel wire is recommended. Polywire
is easier to use than steel wire. However, it is more costly and
not as durable. Use light gauge steel cable or wire around gardens
that require year-round protection.
- Adjust wire tension by hand pulling to remove visible sag, and
hold with knots on the ends. Spring-type gate handles also serve
to maintain tension. Use small tension springs with twisted steel
or seventeen gauge wire.
- Use porcelain or heavy duty plastic insulators on wooden
- Wooden posts with insulators, fiberglass, or 1/2" Schedule 40
PVC plastic pipe are recommended for line posts. To prevent
shorting, avoid using steel posts with insulators.
- Place line posts no more than 15 feet apart.
- Many gardeners prefer to leave a 4- to 6-foot wide area
between the fence and garden o maneuver wheelbarrows and tillers.
A voltmeter is essential for monitoring the
fence power and trouble shooting. Digital voltmeters are available
from energized fence manufacturers.
Fence materials & sources
|Materials list and price estimate (1996) for a
30' by 30' energized garden fence to exclude deer.
G=energized fence supplier
F=farm supply store
H=lumber and hardware retailer
||Energizer (at least 1.0 joule)
||6' galvanized ground rods with clamps
||8' x 4" round treated posts
||1 ¾" galvanized fence staples
||12 or 14 gauge steel wire to attach porcelain insulators
to wood posts
||Porcelain doughnut insulators
||14 gauge insulated underground cable
||3/8" x 48" fiber rod posts
||3/8" post clips
||Fence warning signs
||48" x 48" wooden gate (make) with hinges
||Polywire (655' roll)
Fence Materials Sources
- LaCresent Farm & Orchard Supply, Box 143 LaCresent, MN
55947, (507) 895-2103
- Shepard's Hill Farm, Dave Deutschlander, Rt 4 Pine City,
MN 55063, (320) 629-2744
- K-Fence Systems, RR 1 Box 195 Zumbro Falls, MN 55991,
- Premier Fence Systems, Box 89 Washington, IA 52353, (800)
- Kencove Farm Fence, 111 Kendall Ln. Blairsville, PA 15717,
- Midwest Fence, RR 1 Box 114 Medford, MN 55049, (507)
- Eikmeier Livestock Systems, Rt 4 Box 204 Pipestone, MN
56164, (605) 997-2022
- Waconia Farm Supply, 801 S Hwy. 284 Waconia, MN 55387,
- Eddy's Farm Supply, 1414 W Main St. Albert Lea, MN 56007,
- ABK Power Fence, 2501 Surrey Ct. Lincoln, NE 68512, (402)
- David McIver, RR 1 Box 201 Farwell, MN 56327, (320)
Fencing Displays Fencing displays can be seen at the Minnesota
Landscape Arboretum. The Arboretum is located nine miles west of
I-494 on State Highway 5 in Chanhassen (for hours and
directions, call (612) 443-2460 ext. 102). Fencing displays are
a cooperative venture between the Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources, the University of Minnesota, and fencing
companies. Labor and material provided by Gallagher Power Fence
Systems, San Antonio, TX; K-Fence Systems, Zumbro Falls, MN; and
Kiwi Fence Systems, Inc., Waynesburg, PA.
For Further information or if you have questions, contact
Area Wildlife Office.
Maintenance & safety
Check voltage weekly or after storms. Check and tighten wire
tension as needed. Change pr recharge energizer batteries
every 3-4 weeks. Vegetation mus not contact the fence. Use
mowing, weed whipping, or herbicides to control vegetation
on an 18-inch-wide strip under the fence. Apply herbicides
according to label directions.
If your garden needs
protection only during the growing season, take wires and
line posts down during the winter. Use a wire garden hose
reel to gather and store the wire. Corner posts and ground
rods may remain in the ground. Cover the exposed end of
ground rods with buckets, bricks, or concrete blocks. With
proper care, your garden fence should last ten or more
Safety is a primary concern when using an energized fencing
system. The homeowner is responsible for protecting others
from injury. Use only an unaltered energizer listed with a
qualified electrical testing laboratory. Always follow the
manufacturer's safety recommendations. Use at least one
energized fence warning sign on each side of the fence.
Check local ordinances for regulations on energized fences
and posting requirements.
Other considerations in building energized
|Rabbits, raccoons, and woodchucks
To exclude rabbits, raccoons, and woodchucks in addition to
deer, add wires at 4- and 8-inches above the ground. This
may be part of the initial design or added later as needed.
You will need additional insulators, wire, and fence
Many gardeners prefer a permanent gate. The width of the
gate will vary according to your needs. Spring-type gate
handles may also serve as the gate. A fiberglass or plastic
rod may be used so all wires are opened simultaneously. You
may prefer two gates for larger gardens.
Other energized fence designs to exclude deer from gardens
do exist. Occasionally gardeners are successful at reducing
deer damage with energized fence designs that differ from
the design described in this brochure. The energized fence
design described here will give most home gardeners the best
opportunity for reducing deer damage. If you are currently
using an energized fence that is effectively reducing deer
damage, great. However, if you are experiencing problems
with your current fence or are considering an investment in
energized fencing to protect your garden, consider the
design specified in this brochure. Caution: Failure to
carefully follow the recommendations specified in this
brochure may result in deer breaching the fence. Once deer
learn to enter the fence, you may not be able to retrain
deer even if you upgrade your fence.
© 2007 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
© 2007 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Copyright
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