How to Teach Animals to Stay in a Fence

Teaching animals to stay in a fence.

We use high-tensile fencing for 2 pastures on our farm.

High-tensile fence is stunning.  I love it.  It is clean and modern looking.  It doesn’t obstruct views or create visual barriers.  It is sturdy and powerful and can keep in many animals.

High-tensile fence is a clean fence made with posts and some wires.

Woven wire fence

We started our farm life with woven wire fence, but after a few years have made the switch to high tensile.

Woven wire does fine enough keeping our animals contained, however, it’s not very flexible if you ever decide you would like to remodel the fence line (adding a gate or even a walk through for a person can be quite a project).

Over the years we have had to repair and fix many sections of the woven wire fences.

Mending fences is not fun.

High-Tensile Wire

High-Tensile fencing is different from woven wire.  instead of one loooooooooooog stretch of fencing that the cows can push, shove, lean against and remove – it is simple, clean, STRONG wires.

High-tensile fencing is just wires.  Nothing more than posts and wires.  How does it keep the animals in?

The wires are hot.  Out here in the country the older generations have unique ways of saying things.  I recently learned that when you make a fence electric they call it:  “Putting the monkey on it.

The snazzy thing about high-tensile fence is you can put the monkey on any wires you want.   One wire, 2 wires or every wire.  And it’s easy.

When the monkey is on the fence – the animals respect it.

Our high-tensile wire pasture has 5 wires.  Some folks will have 10 strands of wire or more.  With our 5 wires we are containing:  cows, sheep & a dog.

Another interesting fact about our high-tensile fence is that it goes through the woods, up hills, down hills and even jumps across creeks.  You gotta love Kentucky.  This makes buying fence posts cheap (we use mostly trees), but getting wires close to the ground impossible.

Our sheep and especially our dog could get out anytime they want.  Really – there are some spots where the landscape caused serious gaps between the bottom wire and the ground.

BUT… they don’t escape.  They actually don’t even go near the fence.

This is one of the best kept secrets in farming & fencing, I swear.

HOW TO TRAIN AN ANIMAL TO STAY IN A FENCE

Before I get too far into this I want to be sure to say that I have no idea if this will work with goats.  I have heard that goats need waterproof fencing.  I have never owned goats for this reason (and a few others).  I think goats are adorable and have always wanted some, but it just hasn’t happened yet. 

I’m going to tell you how we trained our animals, and how you can train yours.

We have trained cattle, sheep and a puppy (Bruno, our Anatolian Shepherd) to stay in our high-tensile fence.

In order to use this technique, you are going to need a shed, run-in, barn or small building in the field.  We have a small barn/ shed that lies in-between 2 high-tensile pastures.

This building can be accessed by either field.  We can rotate the animals onto each pasture & no matter which pasture they are in, they can get into the barn for shelter.  Genius right?

#1:  Pen the animal up in the barn/ shed that will be their shelter.

When you first bring a small animal to your home or farm it is a good idea to keep them penned up in the building that will be their home/ shelter for a week or so.  This will acclimate them to their new home.  It is kinda like coop-training chickens.

We put their feed, hay and water in the building so they never had to leave.  Muck it out often so everything is clean and nice.

Once you let them out of the building, they will usually go back to it to find shelter.  Even if an animal escapes from the pasture if they have been properly acclimated to the shelter – they will usually go back to it.

#2:  Run the electric fence inside the barn along the walls.

While our sheep and shepherd dog were in the barn we first ran a few strands of electric along the walls.  Be sure these wires are hot.  You want them to feel it when they bump them.

#3:  Replace the gate on one side of the building with high-tensile wire.

After everyone was getting the hint that they shouldn’t tough the wires along the wall we took down the gate & replaced it with high-tensile wire.

This made me a bit nervous, I thought for sure that Bruno (the shepherd dog) would go under the fence and leave.  He didn’t.  The animals didn’t even want to go near the fence.  If their food was too close to the fence they wouldn’t even try to eat it.  We had to be sure to feed them in area without the wires up.

#4:  Let everyone out.

After a week in the barn with the hot fence keeping them in, we turned them all out into the giant pasture.

Nothing but a few wires are keeping our animals in.  The dog and even the sheep could easily go under the fence in several places – but they don’t.

Thanks to the “in the barn” training, our animals don’t even go near the fence line.

I myself, am amazed.  I thought for sure Bruno would find his way out the first day and meander up to the house to be with the kids.  Nope.  He is such a good boy.

This dog is amazing.  He stays in his pasture.  He respects the fence and he guards his sheep like a pro.

Let me know in the comments if you guys have any other tricks to teach animals to stay put.  Also, feel free to ask if you have any questions about high-tensile wire – I’m not an expert but am happy to share my experience.

XO,

Candi

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