# What Does It Cost to Run a Fence Charger?

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## Fence chargers only cost us pennies per day, folks tell us. Now here’s how you can figure how many pennies at your place.

Editors Note: This comes to us from Steve Freeman’s Pasture Pro blog and was written by Gary Duncan. Gary has been active in the fence business for over 15 years. He also raises Highland cattle in a management intensive grazing system and was the first person to market the PasturePro post back in 2005. Over the years many people have asked me – how much is it going to cost to run my fence charger? I usually respond that it will be “pennies per month”, but this is pretty easy to compute yourself. The only thing you will need to know is how many watts your particular charger pulls and the kilowatt charge from your particular electric utility company. This is assuming that you have a standard mains unit that plugs into a standard 110V outlet. The basic equation is: watts x time / 1000 = kWh Watts = The watts per hour consumed by the electric fence charger during operation. This is probably not printed on the cover of the charger, but is usually on the box or the instruction manual that should come with it. If you don’t have the box or manual, then call the manufacturer and they should be able to tell you. Time = The amount of time the charger is operated. This should be calculated into hours per day and then days per month. Normal you will be running your charger on a continuous basis of 24/7 and the utility company billing period is normally for a 30 day period. 1000 = Dividing by the number 1000 places the total into kilowatt-hours, which is what most utility companies use as the rate of consumption. Example: The power consumption of most chargers for agricultural / livestock control purposes will range from 10 watts up to 50 watts. One of the very largest ones will pull a maximum of 50 watts (I think that this will equate to running a 50 watt light bulb). Operating a 10 watt charger continuously for 24 hours per day for 30 days at a utility company rate of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour will equal:
10 watts x 24 hours per day x 30 days / 1000 = 7.2 kilowatt-hours (kWh) 7.2 kWh x 10 cents = 72 cents
So \$0.72 is the cost of operating the 10 watt charger for 30 days at this rate, or a whopping cost of \$8.64 per year. Now you know how much your electric fencing system is costing you to run. Pretty cheap, huh? So cheap, in fact, that I am surprised that someone hasn’t put a tax on it !!
- See more at: http://onpasture.com/2015/03/30/what-does-it-cost-to-run-a-fence-charger/#sthash.iFMOpcyJ.dpuf By   /  March 30, 2015

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• Experts, Producers Provide Advice on Small Ruminants

HOMER, N.Y. — Do your research, then get all set up before you get your animals, and always purchase from a reputable breeder. That was the advice given to new producers from speakers at a recent meeting geared toward sheep, goat and alpaca producers.

The March 29 meeting, held at the Cortlandville Grange, was hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County and the Empire State Meat Goat Association Region 3. It focused on housing, fencing and predator control options, along with a presentation by Anna Draisey of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, office in Albany, N.Y., on the USDA Scrapie Eradication Program.
Draisey gave a presentation on the neurological disease, scrapie, which affects sheep and goats, emphasizing that producers need to know clinical signs and understand the reason why tagging animals is important for disease eradication.
“Scrapie isn’t as prevalent in goats as sheep and therefore people may not be as aware of it in goats. In both species, there can be a range of clinical symptoms presented either alone or in various combinations, making diagnosis challenging,” Draisey said. Sheep and goats moved within New York and out of state need official ear tags or other official ID, which can be obtained free by calling 866-USDA-TAG.
The purpose of the “blue tag” isn’t always clear. Draisey provided clarification, saying that blue tags are designed to assure that those animals pulled out of production, for one reason or another, shouldn’t continue to be bred.
“In New York state, a blue-tag animal cannot go to another farm, they have to go to slaughter,” she said.
Several producers discussed housing, fencing and predator control options.
Craig Todd of Todd Farms, which specializes in Boer goats, favors a cover-all barn as a housing option, saying that he believes it keeps conditions cooler in summer and warmer in winter than a pole barn.
“The water wasn’t frozen in the cover-all, and yet it was in the pole barn,” Todd said. Setting them up correctly is important, otherwise you’ll create a wind tunnel. “For those building a large operation, people should build such that the facility can be easily cleaned.”
Some people want to build sheds with wooden floors, but Todd said: “It isn’t a good idea, as when you fork out the manure, you’ll pull up the floor. Also, the wood is a good medium for organism growth, which can be detrimental to animal health.” He suggested building directly on the ground and using gravel for the floor. He prefers Agri-Plastics calf hutches, saying that they keep animals much warmer and can be moved to a new area, which makes for easier cleaning.
Fencing is critical, and Todd suggests seven strands of high tensile and electric for the external fence; this is as much to keep the dogs in as the goats. For internal fencing, he’s found four strands to be adequate. A combination of high tensile and electric is a formula that many in the meeting seemed to favor. For those using woven-wire fencing, Todd reminded people not to use 6 inches, as the animals can get their heads stuck.
“Do your research before you start. In the U.S., the average sheep or goat farm lasts about five years,” he said. He impressed upon the audience that they should purchase good animal stock.
Todd uses both Great Pyrenees dogs and donkeys as guard animals for the goats.
“Who are your predators?” Todd asked. The answer to this question, along with the size of the operation, will determine what guard animal is best suited. “Donkeys are good at keeping coyotes away, but you can’t feed coccidiostats in the ruminant feed, as this will kill donkeys. Goats also need to be in a large pasture setting if you use guard donkeys.”
Todd also discussed the pros and cons of the various dog breeds used for guard animals. He ended by saying, “which ever breed you go with, make sure you get a dog from a working farm; dogs that have been bred to be show dogs just don’t work.”
Matthew and Chris Pinckney of Pinckney Farms in Cayuga, N.Y., focused on sheep farming. The two raise registered wool- and meat-breed sheep along with border collies. They emphasized that regardless of building type, ventilation is critical and bedding areas have to be dry, clean and draft free, which is especially important during lambing.
“Using sand like they use in dairy barns works well,” Matthew Pinckney said. Fencing is a key and costly part of setting up. Pinckney suggested high tensile as an excellent choice.
Like the Todd farm, the Pinckneys also use Great Pyrenees as guard animals.
Rustin Wilson from Empire Farm Fence and Supply in Union Springs, N.Y., discussed electric fencing with an emphasis on the fence charger.
“We used to recommend New Zealand chargers, but now we recommend Cyclops by Taylor Fence Inc.,” Wilson said. “Many of the chargers that used to come in for repair were a result of lightning damage.”
He said that Cyclops have good surge protection and fewer seem to come in for repair. Wilson reminded the audience that buying the correct size fence charger was important. Having electric fencing can be high maintenance, and Wilson talked about a useful tool, Fault Finder (Smart Fix), which can help identify where problems may exist. Even though it’s not cheap, a member of the audience said “it is worth its weight in gold.” Wilson said there is a bit of a learning curve, but he will work with customers who buy them.
For those wanting a fence with less maintenance, Wilson said high tensile fences are a good fit with many producers.
“Goats and sheep need to have fencing done well; it needs to be better than for cows and horses,” he said.
Kathi Sovocool and her husband, John, own Dresserville Alpacas in Moravia, N.Y. She was quick to defuse the thought that if you start an alpaca farm, you can become wealthy.
“For us, owning the alpacas is a life style. They’re pretty easy to keep and don’t need a large area. We have 15 animals on three acres,” Kathi Sovocool said. The manure is great for the garden, she said, and easy to pick up as the animals relieve themselves in one area.
The animals don’t need anything fancy for housing, so long as they have shelter from the wind. As they’re not fence crashers, Kathi Sovocool said that they made an adequate fence using cattle panels with woven-wire fence and 6-foot “T” posts. Predators such as neighbor dogs and coyotes can be an issue, so depending on the situation, a producer may need to build a more secure fence.
The major concern with alpacas in the Northeast is the internal parasite, meningeal worm, which causes a neurologic disease that can be fatal. Animals that become infected, even if they do recover, often have orthopedic issues.
The white-tailed deer is the natural nonsymptomatic host, while the snail is an intermediate host. Keeping deer out of the pasture and not allowing grazing in wet areas can help in prevention. Kathi Sovocool said that they medicate every 30 days as a preventative measure.
Yearly shearing is necessary to keep the animal cool in summer months, as alpaca hair is greatly prized among hand spinners.
What about the veterinarian? The overall advice was for producers to get a vet lined up before they get animals and before there is a crisis. The Cortland and Groton, N.Y., area has a number of good options for goats, sheep and alpacas, but prospective producers should check in their area.
Several producers mentioned the excellent emergency vet help that can be obtained from Pipestone Veterinary Clinic in Minnesota, www.pipevet.com, or by calling 507-825-5687. The same number may be used between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. central time for sheep problems and questions.

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