Electric fencing?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SniperGoose, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. SniperGoose

    SniperGoose Songster

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    This is gonna be a long post, so please bare with me lol

    So we have around 1 acre fenced off for our chickens, geese, and ducks. The fence itself is 4 feet tall, and is chicken wire with metal fence posts. Since fencing that area off, I haven't lost any flock members to predators. However, I do worry that one day I will, because a fence keeps my flock in. It doesn't necessarily keep predators out. I don't have an issue with any predatory birds. My main concern is the other predators here in central pa: black bears, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, fishers, minks, weasels, etc.
    When I free ranged my flock, everything was great until I lost 2 hens in a day to a fox. After that is when we fenced them in. I know for a fact we still have plenty of foxes in the area, as well as coyotes. We've also had some black bear sightings in the area. Never had a problem with bears before until this past summer. One practically tore apart our outdoor shed we stored chicken feed in. Though I'm glad the bear went for the feed, and not for any of my birds! Stuff like that is what really scares me. A fence won't stop a very determined predator.

    So this brings me to the idea of an electric fence! I feel that it would greatly help in keeping my flock safe from ground-based predators. I'd be putting it up a little ways away from the fence just so my birds wouldn't get shocked. I don't want it right up against it for that reason. But I don't want it too far away from the fence either, as I don't want to let predators climb up over the fence. I don't feel my chickens would care about it, but my geese are curious and I worry they would try and grab it through the fence and get shocked. For that reason, I worry about the voltage. I want something high voltage enough to stop a bear from trying to get in, but nothing that would kill/injure my birds. I'm not sure if that's a possibility or not, as I know next to nothing about electric fencing. So...voltage suggestions and whatnot are appreciated!

    I also worry that, say, if one of my geese decided to fly out (this has only happened one time, and it was just one of them), and tried to get back in to be with the others...the goose would get zapped on the fence. So I wonder if I should just avoid that issue all together by clipping their wings? I hate to clip any bird's wings, and I avoid doing so if I can. They enjoy flying around my yard when I have them out, so it would be sad if they couldn't do that. I doubt if they would get out honestly, but I worry about them getting zapped. My chickens and ducks never try to escape, so I don't worry about them doing that. Thoughts?

    I do have a few other questions. They might sound dumb, but as I said, I don't know much about electric fencing, so please bare with me here :p
    Is there any sort of fire hazards with electric fencing? In the summer, the grass/weeds grow up very high around the area where this fence is. Obviously I'm going to keep that stuff trimmed down if I'm going to be putting up an electric fence. But on the chance that I miss a spot or something, would that possibly cause a fire if dried grass got up against the fence?

    Also, if it rains/snows how does that work then? Does the fence short out?

    My father is going to help me set this up, but I wanna know all this stuff in advance so we do it right! Thank you for any input! :)

    I'm also including a little overview of my current setup. Stuff might not be exactly to scale, but I wanted to give you all an idea of the area I want to put this up at. The dark green circles are trees btw lol (not exactly up to size, but just to give you an idea of where the trees are all located and whatnot).

    fence-overview-BYC.png
     
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  2. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

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    Hi.
    Not a dumb question could be found in your post!

    I live a little north of you and deal with all the same predators. I enclosed about 1/4 acre of my property with 4' high poultry netting. I run a 10,000 volt charger with 1.2 Joule output that can charge a 3 mile fence. Very punchy. It is rated for large predators.

    Most chargers on the market these days pulse so a fire is highly unlikely. Keeping weeds and other vegetation from touching the hot wires is very important as they will ground the system and weaken the fence.

    Speaking of grounding, your fence is ineffective if the charger is not properly grounded. The wetter the ground the rods are sunk into, the better the system. I see a marshy area in your set up. That would be a good place to set up the charger's grounding. My charger recommended having the first ground rod about 10' from the charger, then 10' for the next rod. I only installed 2. Some chargers recommend 3. I built a little shelter on the 4x4 post that my charger is mounted to so it is protected from the rain.

    Various insulators are available and they make one that clips onto a metal T-post. You have to make sure your hot wires are well away from the chicken wire or you will ground the fence. I would run multiple strands. Maybe 6" up from the ground, then 12, 18 and 24. This is nose height for most predators. You want them to hit the fence with their nose. They will never forget that.

    I wouldn't be too concerned about the chickens getting shocked by the fence. A few of mine got a hit to the comb and they sent up quite a raucous complaint and the rest of the chickens figured out to stay the heck away from the fence!

    I had a major problem with mine flying up to the tops of my wooden gates then jumping out. I ended up clipping all their wings. Until your birds acclimate to staying in the pen, I highly recommend just doing a bi-lateral clip. I tried to avoid severe wing clipping and one of my girls was killed by the neighbors dog when she flew out. Just do it and hopefully they will learn that the pen is their home and will stop trying to get out. That is my hope with mine. I will not re-clip wings once they molt their feathers back in and see how it goes.

    When I did get an escapee prior to the wing clipping adventure, I would turn off the fence, herd the fugitive back in through a gate, then turn the fence back on.

    You are going to have to wait until the ground thaws for this project. We are coming into quite a cold spell here and I imagine you will be too.

    Good luck!
     
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  3. SniperGoose

    SniperGoose Songster

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    Hi, thank you so much for your reply! This helped tremendously. I feel much better about getting one now :) Hearing that a chicken wasn't really harmed by the fence made me so much less worried lol.
    If you don't mind my asking, what charger do you use exactly? I was looking online and there's so many options to choose from. It's a little confusing! I just want some ideas for now so I can discuss things with my father before moving forward. I won't be buying any supplies until Spring time most likely. I'm excited to get it done though!
     
  4. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

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    This is the charger I bought:

    https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/american-farmworks-30-mile-ac-powered-charger?cm_vc=-10005

    I picked it up for $79.99 when they were running a sale last year.

    I would recommend a trip to TSC to look at the insulators. I bought insulators from Amazon as they ended up being less expensive. You'd just be going to TSC to see them and see how they would fit onto the posts you already have installed.

    I bought my ground rods & clamps from Lowe's and the lead out wire from Amazon:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004CQY4NM/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Tomorrow morning, I can take a picture of the little shelter I built for the charger if you like.
     
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  5. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Crowing

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    The mink and weasels are the hard part ...

    I'd recommend adding 1/2" hardware cloth to the bottom section of your existing fence up to whatever level you decide to put your bottom electric wire ... this way the weasel needs to climb 6"-12" ... then gets zapped ... otherwize it will just go under the wire, and through your chicken wire ... make sure the hardware cloth is touching the dirt in some spots too, as it will act as a ground.

    The closer to the ground your lowest electric wire, the more diligence is needed to keep weeds, and snow off from it ... 9"-12" would be my preference ...

    I would just add insulators to the outside of your existing fence posts.

    Depending on your normal snow depth ... you may want to wire your power wire to the second up from the ground wire ... then run a connector with a in-line switch to the lowest one, so when you gets a big snow storm, just turn off power to the lowest wire, and the rest of the fence is still hot!
     
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  6. SniperGoose

    SniperGoose Songster

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    Thank you! My local TSC doesn't have it, but I can have it shipped to the store, so that's no big deal. I'll bookmark the link so I can order it when the time comes.
    I told my father about it and he said he has a charger in his garage that they used to use for a cattle fence. I went in to look at it and well...It's a Dyna Charge 909 - it's nearly 40 years old lol. I'm not sure I would trust that thing. I'd feel safer with a new one myself.

    Yes, I'd love to see the shelter you built for it when you get the time! :)
     
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  7. SniperGoose

    SniperGoose Songster

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    I haven't had an issue with mink/weasels in years now thankfully. However I certainly don't want any issues with them again! I'll be sure to get some hardware cloth and place it as you mentioned. I'm also getting some HC for my chicken coop this year as well, once spring comes around, so I'll just buy some extra when I do.

    Yeah the area where this fence is gets very overgrown in the summer. I usually keep it trimmed back a few feet from the fence. I'll have to get into the habit of weedeating around there often.

    Thank you for the tip! We haven't been having a lot of snow in the past few years, but if we ever do, I'll be sure to do that! :)
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    How long are the sides of that square?
    Is the creek and swamp significantly lower that the rest of the ground along fence lines?
     
  9. SniperGoose

    SniperGoose Songster

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    Oh I completely forgot to put that, my bad! It's around 208 x 208ft
    No it's not really much lower than the rest of the ground along the fence at all.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Might be an egress tho, in or out...water ways are a conduit for weasel family members.
     
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