Can You Use Copper Wire for an Electric Fence- What you need to know

While copper is the third most conductor of all metals, is it the best choice for your electric fence and livestock?

Copper wire can be used for  Electric fences , but only on certain sections of the fence. While copper is an excellent conductor of electricity, it also corrodes rapidly, making it an unsuitable material for your fence.

There are alternative wiring materials that may be more appropriate for your fence, such as aluminium.

How does Electric Fence Function?

Bill Gallagher invented the first electric fence in New Zealand in 1938. Electric fences are used to confine a variety of animals to a specified area. 

They are most frequently used by ranchers to keep livestock safe by separating livestock from wild animals.

An electric fence is a type of fence that is constructed using bare wires, an energizer, and grounding rods. 

The energizer component converts electricity and transmits a high-voltage pulse through the bare wire. 

When a person or animal comes into contact with the wire, the pulse is transmitted through the animal to the ground. Once grounded, the grounding rods pick up the pulse and return it to the energizer. 

This process results in the formation of an electric circuit, which shocks the animal. Eventually, animals will learn to associate the fence with pain and avoid approaching it.

Key componetnts of an Electric Fence

The key components you will have to create an electric fence are mentioned below:


The battery is where the power supply gets the pulse electricity. It’s better if you receive a 12 volt electric fence battery at least.

Rods grounding

These are rods, which collect the pulse from the ground and carry it back to the power supply. 

You need to put it in the wet ground. Furthermore, it need at least three of them and the stronger your fence is. 

With insufficient rods your fence is too feeble to hold animals. It should begin at the beginning of the fence and be six metres deep.

Cut out switch

If you are not able to turn your fence off at a greater distance from the power supply, a cutting switch is optional; nevertheless, it is beneficial if your energy supplier is far from your fence.


All equipment should be acquired from a recognised firm, assuring high-quality products that will be supported by your provider. When selecting an energizer, keep in mind that ‘bigger is better.’

That is, get a fencer that is somewhat larger than your needs. This will ensure that adequate voltage is going through the cable to deal with bush and damp grass sucking up part of the power, as well as future additions.

A general rule of thumb is that you need at least 2000 volts in the summer and 4000 volts in the winter owing to thicker hair coats on cattle and the inability to acquire a suitable ground due to snow.


Install the fencer at a location where rodents cannot nibble on the wires (preferably in a building)

Install a light diverter.

Galvanized wire or polywire


12 gauge galvanised high tensile wire is recommended.
Tie the wire securely.
The first wire of a two-wire fence should be 22 inches from the ground, and the top wire should be 40 inches.
At least every 1/2 mile, the top and bottom wires should be linked.


These are necessary to avoid power leaks that decrease the electrical fence’s power. Tape, cord, or netting are included. Ceramic/plastic isolators or covered wire can also be purchased.


Purchase high-quality insulators that require a nail at both the top and bottom. Insulators that just require a single nail will drain electricity from the fence.

Many insulator manufacturers provide a multi-year guarantee and will replace broken ones at no cost to you.


This should not be constructed of metal and these are posts which hold up your fence. Wood is utilised with electrical fence cables most often.

Strainers for corners


Tie corners securely. Strainers made of porcelain or plastic are allowed.


Braces are the foundation of every excellent fence.


A lighter brace can be utilised for a one wire paddock divide.Make sure the horizontal brace is 2.5 times as tall as the vertical brace post. There are several ways to construct braces; the most important is to have corner posts (4 to 5″) at least 3.5 feet in the ground. Furthermore, the horizontal brace and straining wire must be properly placed.

Electric fence of copper

Copper is often used on electric bolts as base rods and in the wire. Copper has the third greatest conductivity of all metals.

Today, however, most experts do not advise the use of copper in an electric fence as this corrodes so quickly.

Other Metal options for electric Fence

There are three more electric fence metal choices, including:

Capacitated steel

Steel is unbelievably powerful by itself. The galvanisation of the steel is a way to rubber-resistant the steel. The steel is zinc-coated, providing a protective coating for the steel. For electrical fences, this kind is most recommended. In the fence wire and grounding rods, galvanised steel can be utilised.


The lightweight, flexible aluminium is famous. It’s a wonderful driver, but it isn’t a particularly powerful metal. For fence wire and grounding rods aluminium may be utilised.

Metal Mix

Tear wires with a mixture of metals and most of which comprise copper may be found. This alternative works well and has the advantages and disadvantages of all the braid metals. Only the wire of the fence may use this option.

If your your electric fence is not working

Perhaps you have observed that your electric fence does not come up with such a tremendous jolt. You can check several items that might cause the problem.

There might not be sufficient ground rods. Please note that at least 3 ground rods are needed and more might be useful. The base rods are crucial to the development of a shock causing electrical circuit.

The shorter the circuit, the more shock the stronger. With additional grounding rods, the pulse will go quicker from the animal to the energizer.

The ground rods were probably placed in a wrong position. The rods of the ground must be moistened. If the ground is too dry, the electrical circuit will not convey the shock so quickly.

You may have to ensure that nothing touches the fence. Everything can touch the wire like a bush so that electricity can spill.

You have lots of rods, the soil is fine, and you have checks to make sure that your fence is not touched, neither of which appears to be the problem of power loss. A grounding rod may be loose or rusted. Check that all rods are linked to the power supply, and then you may have to dig up rods so they won’t be rusted.

Remember, copper corrodes the quickest so that it could be worth using another metal.

Electric Fencing Don’ts

  1. Barb wire should not be powered.
  2. On gates, do not use barb wire.
  3. Use your gate wire to transmit electricity from one side of the brace to the other, not the other way around.
  4. Leave your fence taut during the winter; the wire will compress and drag your bracing out of alignment.
  5. When installation, do not overtighten the wire; simply remove the slack.
    Do not release livestock onto an unfamiliar pasture or with animals that have not been taught to use an electric fence. They will rush through it since it is not a physical barrier.
  6. Electric wire should not be run in combination with barb wire.
  7. Copper wire corrodes and should not be used to connect ground rods to fencers.
  8. If the high tension wire has been kinked, do not tighten it. It will snap. To rejoin, tie appropriate knots.
  9. Do not use low-quality/power-robbing supplies

Electric fence Upkeep

A volt metre or a problem detector will be one of the most useful instruments. This will assist you in ensuring that the appropriate voltage is provided on a consistent basis, and if you have a fault finder, it will speed up the repair procedure by identifying the direction of the problem.

Every spring, walk the fence line to check that the insulators are still in place and that the wire is taut. You can also look for debris, such as fallen trees, which will reduce the electricity flowing through the line. If the energizer is not in use during the winter, it should be stored in a clean, dry area. If you have a solar-powered electric fence, you should charge the battery before storing it for the winter.


Nemtek Electric Fence Instruction Manual covers all the basic on how to set up an electric fence.The Downloadable PDF- Nemtek Instruction Manua

Fencing with Electricity. 1995. Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. High Tensile Fence Systems. Dare Products Inc.

Compiled by

Larry Fischer
Livestock Technician, Central Region
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives

Melinda German
Cow/Calf Specialist
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives

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