Permanent electric fencing is used in many agricultural areas, as construction of electric fences can be much cheaper and faster than conventional fences (it uses plain wire and much lighter construction, as the fence does not need to physically restrain animals). The risk of injury to livestock (particularly horses) is lower compared to fences made of barbed wire or certain types of woven wire with large openings that can entangle the feet.
Its disadvantages include the potential for the entire fence to be disabled due to a break in the conducting wire, shorting out if the conducting wire contacts any non-electrified component that may make up the rest of the fence, power failure, or forced disconnection due to the risk of fires starting by dry vegetation touching an electrified wire. Other disadvantages can be lack of visibility and the potential to shock an unsuspecting human passer-by who might accidentally touch or brush the fence. Many fences are made entirely of standard smooth or high-tensile wire, although high quality synthetic fencing materials are also beginning to be used as part of permanent fences, particularly when visibility of the fence is a concern.
Conventional agricultural fencing of any type may be strengthened by the addition of a single electric line mounted on insulators attached to the top or front of the fence. A similar wire mounted close to the ground may be used to prevent pigs from excavating beneath other fencing. Substandard conventional fencing can also be made temporarily usable until proper repairs are made by the addition of a single electric line set on a "stand-off" insulator.