Spring Fence Tuneup

This weekend we anticipate bringing in a number of calves from the farm next door, so it is time to fix up the little L shaped paddock we use as a receiving yard for new cattle.  The plan is to let them stay there for a few days while getting used to the new location, then bring our cattle up to meet them.  There will be some scuffling, pushing, and shoving as the social order is worked out, but we expect that they will all adjust and be ready to function as a cohesive herd by the time the grass starts growing in early May.

But first things first:  it is time to make sure the electric fence is ready.  We don’t want to repeat last October’s fiasco where the brand-new cattle discovered that a portion of the electric fence was disconnected.  We want their first encounter with Ol’ Sparky to be memorable.  Cattle are easier to train to electric than pigs.  Just one or two zaps tells them all they need to know about fences.

The top connector has been burned away and the stainless steel on the connectors and the knife is severely pitted.

The top connector has been burned away and the stainless steel on the connectors and the knife is severely pitted.

I’ve been disappointed with the electric fence cutout switches I’ve been using.  I contacted Kencove to see if they have had other customers experience problems with arcing and burning due to poor contact between the blade and the base.  They just recommending squeezing the connection tighter, but the design is inherently weak right where the connection needs to be tight.  I’ve tried cleaning the surfaces and squeezing the connectors without luck.  Supposedly this is a heavy duty switch, but I’m not impressed.

I added dielectric grease to all the connections.  I tried to find information on whether there are any problems using it on fencing systems (10 kV, short pulses), but I was unable to find anything.  So I tried it anyway.  I can always clean it out if it is a problem.  I'm hoping it will help prevent corrosion.

I added dielectric grease to all the connections. I tried to find information on whether there are any problems using it on fencing systems (10 kV, short pulses), but I was unable to find anything. So I tried it anyway. I can always clean it out if it is a problem. I’m hoping it will help prevent corrosion.

Kencove sells a different knife switch that has what appears to be a better design.  I’ve had one of these installed right at the energizer for four years without problems, so I ordered a big batch and started replacing my burned out switches.

The new switches have different spacing between the lugs, but there was enough slack in the wires to allow me to install them without any major rewiring.

The new switches have different spacing between the lugs, but there was enough slack in the wires to allow me to install them without any major rewiring.  I squeezed a gob of dielectric grease in the knife grooves for good measure.

I’ll have to give it at least a full season to tell if these switches are better, but I’m happy with the results so far.  After I reenergized the fence, I inspected each switch.  There was no arcing or loud snapping.  I had to put my ear right up to the switch to hear the snap from the pulse, so it seems we’re off to a good start.

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