In laying out our pasture sub-divisions, we decided that a central alley down the length of the property would provide the best access and animal movement ease. Doing this requires a large amount of gate openings, and pre-fabricated gates are expensive.
I have seen random drawings or pictures of homemade electric gates, most specifically a design illustrated in DARE’s “High Tensile Fence System” .pdf manual, available online – and a tremendous resource, which I highly recommend. Available at this link. Below is their design.
Beyond this drawing, however, I was unable to find any good instructions or plans for building an electrified gate, and so I have detailed my design as follows to be a resource for the next inquisitive fence builder looking for an economical, but durable electrified gate.
Cost– Available for purchase are “spring gates”, which are just as they sound. A long spring with an insulated handle and hookups. In my case, my gate widths are twenty feet, and a spring gate costs about $20.00. So the price to beat was set at an Andrew Jackson bill.
Durability– I figure that the weakest link in the “spring gate” is the spring itself, which will eventually break strictly because of the fact that it changes its shape so often. So I wanted my gate to overcome the potential weakness of the spring. The insulated handle and hookups/latches would be the same on either design.
Multiple Wires– I wanted the ability to hold sheep as well as cattle. In the rear 80 acres we will likely just use spring gates for the fact that they are quick and easy, but in the front 40 acres I need to be able to control sheep in addition to cattle, so a single wire gate will not suffice. My current design uses (2) wires and for about $1.15, I could add a third wire If I deemed necessary.
The “DARE electrified gate” was my spring-board and the only modifications I made were basically in how the gate pivots and attaches to the posts. I used large diameter utility poles as posts and did not want to be drilling through them like they did in their design.
Instead of using springs, I used high tensile wire. High tensile wire is triple-galvanized and has approximately twice the longevity of traditional barbwire. Additionally, it can be had for about $0.04/ft or less.
For the battens (the white spacers seen in the drawing) I used pieces of PasturePro droppers that I cut on a chopsaw. They are self-insulating and thus you can drill right through them and feed the wire.
To keep the battens from sliding around on the wires, I used crimp sleeves on either side of them to keep them in fixed locations.
Lastly, I chose to use pre-fabricated 3-hole hookups on the connection end. I want my gates to be electrified when connected and dead as soon as you unhook them. With the 3-hole hookup connection, I can connect the electrifying wire in the center position and two gates from two directions on the outside connections. Below is a picture of a 3-hole hookup. I chose to get mine from Kencove Fence, but I’m sure they are sold in a variety of locations. Additionally, you’ll notice that I didn’t have the “hot” wires connect to the swing post- only the latch post. I did this because I don’t want any chance of one gate, closed, electrifying the adjacent gate, which might be open. By using the battens are insulators, I can then use a second set of high tensile wires to connect to the swing post which insulate me from any chance of transferring current to the swing post and accidentally electrifying the adjacent gate.
Since all of my gates are 20ft (+/- a few inches), I can build the gates while listening to music up at the barn, then load them in to my pickup and drive back in to the pasture to install them quickly.
An added benefit of this method of construction is that I can easily decide if I want both wires to be “hot”, of if I want to have one hot and one ground. And by using “tap bolts” I can change the polarization seasonally, if I want both hot in the summer, but one as a ground to help in the winter.
The total cost was about $19 for one twenty foot gate, which breaks down as follows:
High Tensile Wire (Apprx. 50ft) $1.25 Crimp Sleeves (16) $2.08 Insulated Gate Handles (2) $4.50 PasturePro Dropper 5ft, (1) $3.80 3-hole hookup (2) $5.50 Tap bolts (2) $1.60 Insulated 12.5 ga wire (3ft) $1.25 TOTAL $19.98
An important thing to remember is to purchase insulated gate handles that have a very expandable spring (at least 2.5″) to accommodate for weather changes (shrinking in cold, expanding in hot), post shift over time, and animal impact.