Electric Fencing

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by sassygrrl32, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. sassygrrl32

    sassygrrl32 New Egg

    Dec 29, 2013
    Hi, I've been reading some info on electric fencing since our chickens like to wander a bit and we've been hit with a predator.

    I've read a bunch and I'm still thoroughly confused. What is the best electric fencing to use for chickens? I've read that some will just fly over the fence. Ours(plymouth rocks) can fly some but my husband says he's never seen them fly very high....

    I looked at tractor supply and saw the power wizard kit but it isn't very high at only 32 inches...Someone said premier but I couldn't find much info. And what about the energizer? I'm assuming somewhere like tractor supply will have everything but I need to know what everything consists of.

    Can someone help me sort this out. I'm a complete idiot when it comes to this...
  2. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    I currently don't have enough information to advise you.

    I assume that you have household 110v current handy to were you want to install your electric fence. And do you currently have a system to keep your birds confined to a certain portion of your property?
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    There are always different ways to do these things and different details, but you have two different basic options, netting or wires. In both you have a very high voltage, very low amperage, and a pulsing current. Since it is pulsing you can turn it loose so nothing will get injured, but it will bite you. You don’t want to touch it a second time. For them to work, you need a ground to complete the current. That’s accomplished by the predator’s feet touching the ground. Practically any predator will go up to the fence to check it out instead of trying to jump over it. They’ll sniff it or lick it. Once they get bit, they leave and don’t come back. One guy on here spreads peanut butter on the wire to invite the predator to lick it. They get a real good ground with that wet tongue. And they don’t come back.

    I get very pleased when a strange dog goes up to my netting and sniffs or licks it. You hear a yelp and then see the dog running away. A very satisfying feeling. My chickens are safe with no animal getting hurt.

    One basic option is the one I have, electric netting, which I got from Premier. It is a net where all the horizontals are “hot” except for the very bottom one. Anything that touches a live wire and the ground at the same time will get bit. The netting is tight enough that a grown chicken cannot walk through it but a baby chick can just walk through maybe until they are a month or more old. Their down insulates them.

    Mine can fly over it (4’ high), but they don’t because they don’t want to. The top does not look like something they can perch on, so they don’t fly up to perch. Chickens can fly pretty well, but they won’t unless they have motivation. As long as the area inside is big enough and they don’t have something chasing them, they have no reason to fly over it.

    I’ve had a chicken get out under two different circumstances. You can set the netting up in different configurations. I once set it up long and narrow and a hen got out within a few hours. I think she got trapped against the end by a rooster wanting to mate and she couldn’t get around him to run away so she went vertical and landed outside the fence. That’s the only time I’ve had a hen fly over. I always have a wide configuration now, never long and narrow.

    I always raise young chicks with the flock. Often when the cockerels are in adolescence one or two will fly over the netting in a week. When they are having their pecking order/dominance confrontations, the loser runs away. If it is caught against the fence, it goes vertical and winds up on the wrong side.

    The wiring is different. Unless you have a really large area you need some type of fencing to keep the chickens in. But you need to insulate the electric wire from the fence, including the fence posts. You attach insulators to the fence posts to insulate the wire electrically from the fence. Normally you have two electric wires. One is really close to the ground so any predator low to the ground will touch it and not just go under the fence; raccoons possums, skunks, foxes, dogs, most of your biggest problems. But then you have another wire higher up so anything trying to climb is bound to touch it. They’ll ground out on the fence itself so they don’t have to be touching the ground when they hit the hot wire.

    The netting is best for a temporary fence. You can relocate it if the forage inside is eaten. The wire is best for a permanent fence that does not move but will easily cover a much bigger area.

    Both have one flaw. If the grass or weeds grow up into it to touch the hot wires, they’ll ground out the fence when they are wet, either from rain or dew. You have to have a system to keep the grass and weeds from grounding it out. Lawn mowers and weed eaters are death to the netting and probably to the wire. With the netting you can mow an area and set the netting back up. In the periods of the year when grass is growing fast, that might be every two weeks or so. Some people who pasture their chickens will move it about every day for fresh forage. Like I said, different details. I spray my border with round-up to keep the growth down. I don’t know how the people with permanent fencing do it.

    You can get a kit from Premier that has everything you need for the netting. That’s what I got. Premier will answer the phone and talk to you. I’m sure you can get kits for the wiring too. They are kind of expensive and they need some maintenance, but they are very effective against ground predators when installed properly. They don’t do anything against birds of prey however.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Noobchick

    Noobchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2011
    Creedmoor, NC
    I second everything Ridgerunner said. I ordered a 100' and 50' sections of PermaFence from Premier in the spring, along with a power source. I never got around to hooking up the power, but had excellent results just with the fencing. We had some stray dogs come around, and the fence alone was enough to deter them (my roosters helped too of course).

    I had one hen constantly fly over the fence, but the others never tried.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I too find electric fencing confusing, thinks experience is what it will take for me to truly understand it.
    Few things I've learned so far from my research is:
    Don't skimp on a charger, pay attention to the 'joules' rating, not the 'miles'.
    Same with a tester, get good one and learn to use it.
    If you live in a snowy area, all bets are off once the snow get so high.
    Just my two cents.
  6. sassygrrl32

    sassygrrl32 New Egg

    Dec 29, 2013
    Thanks for replies. We have very little snow in our area, maybe once every two yrs(2 or 3 inches occasionally more but not much of a problem).
    We currently do not have system in place. Our yard is fenced but we have a gate opening and an opening where we bring our vehicles in but the chickens have never went that way(my husband said if they try our dog runs them back inside the fence). THe problem is one opening on the other end near their coop which the chickens use to to go through(he's now working on patching that up, he left it open so the dog could go through). Anyway, but no system near their coop(tried to get that in place when they were chicks but he got sidetracked with having to repair a rental house)...

    As for a power source, we have no direct power in the coop. He used an extension cord to the coop to keep their coop warm when it gets really cold(don't know if we are supposed to be doing that but don't want them getting cold).....

    Anyway, thanks for replies. Right now the biggest issue is him patching that hole up so they can no longer go through and putting up gates if need be. Because of this they've taken to wandering(he says they depleted all the bug supply in our yard and he thinks are wandering to find more bugs even right after they've been fed). The first step is keeping them confined to the yard then looking for a better system to make sure they are safe from predators....

    A bobcat(at least we think because one was spotted and hit a by a car near our yard) got 4 of our hens and something got one a few months back....This was on the outside of the fence. Our dog hates cats(she coexists with ours but barely).....

    Again thanks for the replies....
  7. sassygrrl32

    sassygrrl32 New Egg

    Dec 29, 2013
    Just to be clear the whole yard is fenced even around the coop, just needs that one place patched.....It's standard chain link fence......
  8. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    To work a target animal must make contact with the fence and at the same time be grounded. When the charge runs trough the target animal and goes to Earth it produces a painful electric shock. Because the amperage is very low but the voltage is very high this jolt (remember the word "Joules" above) nothing but a dumb human like my self will seek out a second electric treatment.

    A word of advise:
    The charger also has a ground wire and how well the charger preforms is related to how well the ground circuit on the charger is grounded. If you live in an arid or desert region you may well need a 5/8ths inch piece of rebar grounding rod 8-10 or even 12 feet long driven into the ground to find enough moisture to create a good enough ground to keep the varmints off your property or your livestock on yours.

    A lighting arrester no closer than maybe 50 feet away from the charger may help keep you from having to buy a new charger.

    The two ways that an electric fence works is in the first example above.

    The other way is by installing a series of parallel wires, alternating between hot and ground. By making the lowest wire a ground wire you get by some of the problems that snow or weeds create by shorting out the hot or positive wire, but you must run more wire. Remember, electricity acts just like liquid water, it takes the path of least resistance any time it is seeking earth or flowing. Anything that tries to squeeze between a hot and a ground wire will become that path and get a shocking surprise. I am unsure but I think this type of electric fence works best over longer distances. But the charge still flows through the target animal to reach Earth or ground.
  9. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    In that case you may be able to get more or less total varmint control by running one hot wire low and on the outside of the border fence and a second hot wire at the top of your border fence.

    Check with the local Agricultural Extension Office for more information.
  10. Dagirls

    Dagirls Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2012
    Moloaa, Kauai, HI
    Thank you for you great discussion.[​IMG] I am going to connect to my horses hot fence and put my old girls in this area. Have not purchased but will look at fencing closely. Really don't have predators when they are older. Rats when they are babies.

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