Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pig Fences

We use Premier electronet fencing from Wellscroft Fence Co. in New Hampshire for our hogs. They ship anywhere and have the same prices as the company that makes the fence. We like the people at the company. It isn't a huge outfit and they have smart staff people who answer all our questions via email or telephone. They also get orders out very fast. This is especially important for supplies for our cattle fence, because you don't want the fence down for long when you have large animals.

Electronet fences must be energized in order to give a shock when it is touched. You need to buy a charger with a solar panel if the fence is used away from electric sources. Or, you can use a charger that plugs in, if an electric source is nearby. You can also attach the electronet to another electric fence for an energy source. We don't use a separate electric charger, also called an energizer, for the fence since we just snap it onto a wire from our cattle fence. The cattle fence serves to bring the power for the fence out to the pig area of the pasture all the way from the barn.

We use the moveable electronet fencing because even though hog panels can be very secure, they are also costly, roughly $150 for 100 feet, and you still have to buy and sink poles. The electronet is roughly $100 for 166 feet. Of course, if you don't have an egnergizer for the fence, you still have to buy that too and it can be $50 and up. In that case, the costs are comparable.

We chose the electronet fence because we wanted it to be portable and for us it was cheaper. We wanted to move the hogs all over the inside of the cow fencing throughout the summer, including a wooded, rocky area. These areas had rough pasture or weeds that the hogs rototilled, and then fertilized for us after . We kept them on these areas of the pasture for a couple of weeks, and then moved them, and seeded the areas. The result is new beautiful pasture and grassy woods for the cows.

Electric fences have drawbacks with swine, since they are one of the few animals that charge forward when they are shocked, instead of shrinking back. Unfortunately hogs also regularly forget all about the shock they just got from the fence. While our cows probably got shocked once each over the last 2 years, the pigs get shocked several times a week. We did have a little piglet escape because once he got shocked, he ran forward right through the fence.

Twice the hogs inadvertently pushed their rubber feed buckets onto the fence. Once the fence was pushed down flat, they all escaped. We'll fix this issue by building a more solid trough for the hog feed that won't creep. This wouldn't have happened with fixed hog panel fencing.

So, if you plan to move the pigs around the field and already have an electric fence to energize it, electronet fencing may be the way to go. If you have a fixed area for the pigs, or if the pen is in a field away from electricity, you might wish to go with the hog panels. Our field is fairly rocky, making sinking poles difficult, and we already have the fencing, so we'll stick to electronet and work to make sure the animals can't get out.

You should train all animals to electric fencing before you simply let them go running around inside it. Build a sturdy pen with three sides of plywood, and place the electronet on one side, with a fourth piece of plywood just behind it. Let the pigs or cows get used to the fencing before you remove the pen, so they will recognize it as a source of discomfort, to be avoided.

(Left - piglets in a pig pile inside the training pen behind the electronet fence)


andrea said...

thanks for sharing your pig/electric fence experience. we are switching to electric fencing and our pigs also charged thru teh fence. now we know what to do! thanks again for your help. we also have a home in middle of the woods in massachusetts. we have poultry, pigs, and rabbits, as well as grow 2 acres of vegetables.

mary said...

Aren't pigs funny, Andrea? Fencing is the toughest thing about them. And when they get out - you just can't get them back until they are good and ready!

Best of luck - and stay in touch!

andrea said...

well our pig transition was a success! thank you so much for sharing your story. we made the training pen like you explained, and then built a shoot out of pallets from the old smelly fly infested cess pool of a pen, and went about doing other things. i planted 100 tomatoes, my husband took a nap .anyway the pigs mosied on in there on their own volition like pigs do, and once in we shut the gate.we didnt turn the fence on right away, we let them get comfortable chewing roots and munching on brush , and then we turned it on. now it is raining and they are sleeping nice and cozy in their new house wich is actually the roof off the old shed, nice and dry. miss fatty did give us a nasty look of disgust the first time the fence bit her , as if horribly offended by our trickery. but she forgave us when we slopped her with some extra cottage cheese. thanks so much again for saving our sanity and making our lives just a bit more easier. which on our small underfunded farm, is a blessing. sincerely andrea

mary said...

Andrea - I am so glad it all worked out. I would love some photos! Send them to me at and I'll post them, if that's okay.

Best to you!

gina said...

This is the first year we have ever had hogs. We have goats with electric fence (white tape kind), do you think it's possible to keep pigs in that type of electric fence? We also rotate our goats between 3 pens every 21 days. Do you think the pigs can follow behind the goats on this rotation?
I appreciate any information and help. Thanks!

mary said...

hi gina,

pigs like to get out of fences. they are the hardest animals to keep in - in my opinion. why not get an electronet fence, or buy hog panels? you really don't need a huge amount of space penned in to "pasture" pigs. My friends in our collective are raising 4 piglets in a 23x16' pen made with 6 16' hog panels.

whatever you decide - good luck! home grown pork is a great reward for the farmer who had cared for roaming pigs!!

Eileen said...

We are fencing our whole 3ish acres of mixed grass, weeds and woods in field fence. We thought we could put a strand of hotwire about 8 inches up from the ground to prevent pigs from rooting under the fence. What do you think? I don't think we want to bother with rotating them, rather, just let them have the run of the place.