Electric Deer Fencing Overview

peanut butter on electric fence

Unlike other fencing, the fence itself does not have to provide a strong barrier. The electric shock that results from the deer touching it acts as a strong psychological barrier, not a physical barrier.

Like most animals, deer will first touch a fence with their noses.  Being moist, the current is conducted to the ground, the circuit is completed and the deer receives a shock. There are advantages and disadvantages to electric fencing.

There are advantages and disadvantages to electric fencing. The advantage is that it is lighter and cheaper and can be assembled and disassembled easier and faster.  When properly constructed there is less chance of deer breaking through.  Also, electric fencing may be an alternative where the height of conventional deer fencing might present an eyesore.

The main disadvantage would have to be that it could not be used were children or pets will be present.  Other disadvantages include needing frequent maintenance to keep it is working order.  Electric fencing will not function through thick vegetation, so the perimeter must be maintained to keep vegetation under control.  Spraying under the wire with a non-selective herbicide may be necessary.  Another disadvantage is that deer, unlike cows, have not been trained to respect an electric fence and they may rush and break through the fence doing damage not expecting a shock.  Of course, deer will not receive a shock if they jump the fence. 
     With all electric fencing, it is a good idea to mark the wire with cloth strips, reflective tapes, aluminum foil or something similar so that the deer notice the fence.  Be careful that whatever you use does not hinder the flow of electricity through the fence.  Putting bait such as peanut butter on the cloth strips or foil will encourage the deer to put their noses on the fence and be shocked.
     Deer normally will attempt to go under or through fencing rather than jump over it.  A vertical fence should have wires located 15 inches and again 30 inches off the ground.  A 3 wire fence would have wires at 10,20, and 30 inches.  If you are trying to protect a vegetable garden and have small animal problems also, start your wire at 3 inches and again at 6 inches.

Wireless Deer Fence

The Wireless Deer Fence is an inventive variation on this type of fencing.  The system doesn't use fencing as such, but uses posts that are baited with scented pellets.  The deer are attracted to these posts and receive a mild shock, discouraging them from approaching the area in the future.  The baited posts are positioned on deer paths, around vulnerable plants, or around special areas like gardens.



Temporary Electric Fencing

Temporary electric fencing can be used to protect newly planted landscapes or seasonal gardens. Various strategies may be used for temporary electric fencing, but they may not be 100% effective against all deer species.  Deer species vary in they susceptibility.  Red deer seem to be the most susceptible, with roe deer being the least susceptible and white-tail deer falling somewhere in between. 

One design that has proven effective is a system that has three lines of high visibility electric tape and stands 3 foot in height.  Other systems use 7 stands of wire on a 117 cm post, and 9 wire strands on a 137 cm post. These systems are based on the deer receiving a effective severe shock on their first encounter so that they do not make another attempt to enter.

In many cases, if you are having to construct a multi-strand electric fence, you would be better off to use wire or plastic netting or another type of fencing that can be removed at a later date.

Semi-Permanent Electric Fencing

A semi-permanent electric system could consist of a single wire three foot high, and placed four foot from a non-electric fence that is four foot high.  The non-electric fence could be made of wire or mesh netting.  The single electric wire should be located on the side that the deer would be entering from.

Permanent Electric Fencing

Permanent electric fencing of boundaries and fields is probably best for commercial applications.  Permanent electric fencing should be constructed of triple-galvanized, high-tensile, 13.5-gauge wire carrying a current of 35 milliamps and 3,000 to 4,500 volts.  Several configurations of electric fences are used: vertical  strands from one to five, seven or even nine wires.  Slanted wire fences, typically with seven wires are also used. 

For a low cost system that has had proven success, try a seven strand, five foot high slanted fence.  Used in Virginia at a strawberry farm there, they have had 100% control.  The 3-dimensional effect of the slanting tier of wires confuses the deer and they are afraid of being entangled.

Combined Electric and Conventional Fencing

There are several advantages to combining electric fencing with conventional fencing.  An electric "scare" wire can added to a conventional already existing fence.  This adds the shock value without having to put up another fence.  Adding an electric wire will increase the life of the existing fence by keeping the deer from leaning or rubbing on the fence.  Combined with high tensile netting, or woven wire fencing are made more effective by combining them with electric wire.

Check out this free excellent online fencing book for more information.

If You Prefer To Buy An Electric Fence Kit

Electric Fence: Baited Deer Control 330 ft Solar Powered

This Baited Electric Deer Fence has been tested and recommended by major universities with a high degree of effectiveness. Deer will be effortlessly attracted to bait stations around your deer fence. When any deer licks the bait they will receive a mild and safe yet startling corrective shock that will train the deer to stay clear of that area. This standard solar powered system includes everything needed for use and installation for up to a 330 linear foot fence line.

To make any electric fence more effective you can add bait stations that will attract deer and then when the deer put their noses on the bait, they will receive a light shock.