Electric vs Non-Electric Animal Fence: Which is Best?

5th March 24

In the realm of animal containment and safety, agricultural and pet-keeping practices must tread a fine line between effectiveness and ethics. For years, electric fences have been a go-to solution for many, promising unmatched security levels against threats to your precious livestock or property. But as the conversation on animal welfare evolves, alternatives are gaining traction, ushering in a debate that’s much more than just currents and insulators.

With so many different fencing applications on the market and technological advancements, it can be a very challenging decision to make. Both electric and non-electric fencing come with a set of advantages and disadvantages that are important to consider before making the big purchase.

The Pulse on Electric Fencing

Efficiency is the heartbeat of electric animal fencing. A low-impedance, varied pulsed electrical current courses through electrified strands, creating a psychological and, if tested, physical deterrent for most animals. The appeal lies not only in its proven track record but also in the versatility of electric fencing systems, allowing for flexibility in design and easy reconfiguration to meet shifting animal containment needs.

Disadvantages of Electric Fencing

  • Animal Safety: Despite low joules, there’s no denying the potential for harm. While it might not be lethal, it can induce stress or teach avoidance behaviours leading to injury.
  • Power Dependency: An electric fence is only as good as its power source. Power outages render the fence useless unless backed up by an auxiliary power supply.
  • Cost Barrier: The initial cost for an electric fence can be significantly higher than some non-electric options, particularly over large areas.
  • Maintenance: To work correctly, the electric fence needs to be kept free from any disruptions. When overgrown grasses, shrubs, or vegetation come into contact with the fence, a connection to the ground is made and an electric fence system circuit is completed. Fence voltage drops as a result, and the deterrent impact is diminished. 

Advantages of Electric Fencing

  • High Effectiveness: Electric fences deliver quick, memorable shocks, effectively training animals to stay within defined boundaries.
  • Ease of Installation and Maintenance: Compared to traditional fencing, electric fences often require minimal labour, and troubleshooting is typically straightforward.
  • Design Flexibility: These systems offer the ability to create or modify paddocks and pastures without the need for skilled labour or major construction work.

Alternatives That Don’t Shock

Conventional wisdom might scream ‘electric,’ but there’s a quiet roar of alternatives like metal mesh and barbed wire fences. And it’s not just livestock that are trading volts for vaults; pet owners are finding solace in the humane, grounded approaches too.

Non-Electric Fence Options

Compared with electric fences, non-electric options provide a physical barrier without the ‘bite,’ sometimes in more obscure ways that manage to be both cost-effective and ecologically sound. Safety is paramount, and these regular fencing options offer a more benign way of boundary enforcement while keeping unwanted visitors away.

  • Barbed wire fences are cost-effective and long-lasting, and can be an effective deterrent for larger animals.
  • Metal mesh fencing can be tailored to stop predators or pest groups such as badgers and deer, while ensuring a safe environment for your dogs or other animals. For dog and kennel owners, large and small dogs alike that might be inclined to jumping or digging can both benefit from the sturdy and secure nature of metal mesh dog fencing. Additionally, it offers an unhindered perspective of your surroundings, which makes it perfect for residences with a picturesque backdrop. Pets can have long-lasting protection from metal mesh fences provided they are installed and maintained properly.
    A dog fence made of woven metal mesh is perfect for strong dogs who enjoy biting! Compared to weld mesh, woven mesh is more resilient to force exerted by your dog and is less likely to injure it.

Advantages of Non-Electric Fences

  • Safety Priority: Non-electric fences eliminate the risk of electric shock, offering a safe, enduring barrier.
  • Cost-Efficiency: When considered in the long term, non-electric fences often boast lower costs due to simpler structures and less maintenance. You can get an idea of the cost of your fence by using a perimeter calculator.
  • Environmental Compatibility: Non-electric conventional fencing is non-intrusive and integrates seamlessly within natural settings.

Disadvantages of Non-Electric Fences

  • Lack of Deterrent: Some non-electric options, when not specifically designed for containment, can be easier for animals to recognise and overcome.
  • Initial Construction Complexity: Building a non-electric fence might demand more intensive construction initially, particularly in challenging landscapes.

Types of Animals to be Contained/Excluded

An electric fence may be effective for keeping pests and unwanted animals out, but it can be a cruel option for the animals and pets that you want to keep in.

Ulbrich, a dog training expert says ‘Despite electric shocks not necessarily causing long-term physical harm if used appropriately, it is still extremely difficult to gauge and adjust intensity of shock to a dog’s size, weight and more importantly to an individual dog’s demeanour.’

If you’re looking for deer fencing, fox fencing, or badger fencing options to keep those types of pests out whilst keeping your pets or livestock in, metal mesh fencing can be the best solution. Metal mesh fencing is tough, resistant to wear and tear, and can withstand animal impact whilst the smooth surface of metal mesh prevents injury from sharp edges.

Non-electric fences can also be installed with a ground skirt. In order to prevent digging and animals climbing, these fences are made with overlapping mesh panels that extend from the base of your current fence. By closing up any openings or gaps in your existing fence, it improves privacy in addition to keeping your dog contained and pests out.

Looking for safe and effective animal fencing options?

In sum, the choice between electric and non-electric fencing is as much a practical one as it is ethical and humane. There are several advantages steering us towards the use of non-electric fences, in particular, metal mesh fencing which is both humane and practical.

County Fencing is a well-known provider of specialty fencing, fencing equipment, and fencing installation services in the United Kingdom. We will be happy to provide guidance on any fencing requirements you may have, with a focus on specific applications and the highest-quality fencing gear on the market.

We can advise on the application of dog fencing, fox fencing,deer fencing and more.

Contact us today for a free quote or make use of our free perimeter calculator!

Electric Vs Non Electric Fencing FAQs

What are the disadvantages of electric fences?

The biggest concern revolves around animal welfare. While the intent isn’t to harm, shocks can provoke stress, injury, or teach animals to fear their enclosures.

Why not to use an electric fence?

An electric fence may not be suitable for all animals, especially if they are sensitive to pain or have underlying health issues. They also require a power source and regular maintenance, which might be the best economical option for everyone.

Are electric fences bad for dogs?

Dogs can learn to respect electric boundaries, but the question remains whether training through aversion is the best approach to containment for companion animals.