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Electric netting and other pets

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by dekel18042, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last summer the chickens were allowed to free range, usually when either we or the dogs were out. Foxes were the main and most effective predator, in fact the only successful predator. Over the winter we have secured them in their coop and large covered runs.
    For the coming summer I want to add electric netting or fencing so they have a bigger area.
    My husband's main concern is that using the fencing or netting will cause a problem for the dogs. The dogs are a deterrent to predation when they are out. I know other people use the netting and have other animals within its boundaries so how do you do it? Can it be a problem and how do you handle it?
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’m not sure exactly what problem you are expecting so I can’t answer that question. I do use electric netting so maybe I can help with that.

    Electric netting is very effective against any ground-based predator. It does nothing for hawks or owls, but anything on the ground will probably be stopped. A running animal like a deer can run into it and knock it over, that happened once to me, but about any real predator will sniff it, lick it, touch it with their bare feet, or somehow explore it instead pushing through it. Fur and feathers will insulate the animal from the electric current, but they practically always touch it with something vulnerable and once bitten, they leave, usually to never return. Some people go so far to put a little peanut butter on the netting to entice the predators to lick so they can be zapped but I have not found that to be necessary. Once they are zapped animals tend to forever stay away so even with the electricity off it is still a deterrent, but new predators are born all the time or move into that territory. It is best to always leave it on.

    If the chickens touch it with their comb or wattles they will be zapped. They squawk, jump back, and go on with their life. They tend to not peck at the grass in the netting after a while.

    It is not all that dangerous since it pulses. There is not a full-time electric current running though it but instead a series of pulses. That way, if something gets bitten it can turn loose. With a steady current it would be stuck there and could be seriously injured or killed. That pulse is the safety system and is quite effective. You will turn loose if you can at all.

    Twice I’ve found animals trapped in mine. Once it was a snapping turtle that pushed against it and was too slow to back up. Every time it pulsed you could see the turtle jerk, but when I worked the turtle loose it eventually walked away, apparently not permanently injured. The other was a possum that had partly pushed its way under when a hot wire came in contact with it and it was tangled so it could not get away. The electrical is not what killed it. If I had decided to turn it loose I’m sure it would have been OK. It was paralyzed though from the pulses.

    What I would expect to happen with your dog is that it would sniff the netting and get bit. After that it would give the netting a wide berth.

    The biggest problem with it is that it loses effectiveness when it grounds out. It’s pretty useless in snow. Grass and weeds grow up in it or leaves and trash blow against it. Especially when those are wet they ground it out. You can hear the pop whenever it pulses. That is probably going to be your biggest problem with it, keeping the weeds and grass from growing up in it and grounding it out.

    There are different ways to handle that. One is to take it down and mow where it is or mow then move it to a clear spot whenever the grass or weeds grow into it. Depending on the time of year, how warm it is, and how wet it is that may be at weekly intervals or much longer.

    I tried that for a couple of years but eventually just use round-up under the netting to stop anything from growing into it. If I had it to do over again, I’d get the more permanent type of netting. On the rare occasions I do take it down to mow the heavier netting is actually easier to use. I got a 50’ section of the heavier stuff so I can compare. If you are going to move it regularly, get the lighter stuff. The permanent stuff is really heavy when you carry it.

    My ground is rocky which creates a problem when putting the poles in the ground. I use a hammer to drive the spikes in but they can get bent. I’ve gotten pretty good at straightening them with my bare hands but that takes some effort and strength. That’s another thing that made it a pain to relocate it regularly.

    I’m all in favor of electric netting. I can’t free range, mainly because people abandon dogs out here, but using the netting has enabled me to let my chickens forage at least some. My main laying/breeding flock is only one rooster and seven or eight hens, but there are times in the summer I have as many as 40 adults and chicks of various ages in there. When the grass starts growing in the spring I lock them out of the netting for a week or so to let the grass get a head start. After that the grass keeps growing. I still have to mow inside it occasionally to knock back the weeds they don’t eat and give the grass room to grow. How much space you need in your netting to keep grass green once it starts growing will depend on your chicken density, the type of turf you have, and your weather.

    The advantage to constantly moving it is that they have a better variety of forage. With mine they don’t get the variety or amount of creepy crawlies they’d get in new territory and the grasses don’t have a chance to go to seed, thus limiting their foraging.

    Good luck!
     
  3. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your in depth answer. It is appreciated. I got the idea from reading it that you use the netting to enclose your chickens. What I was hoping to do, our home and surrounding area are on a plateau coming down the side of the hill. Everything is wooded except for the mowed area around the house. We have only had to worry about foxes (Not too worried about raccoons and opossums which are out only at night because the chickens are locked up in Fort Knox then). We have hawks but thankfully it seems they are very ineffective hunters. They appear to target the smallest and youngest chickens (2-3 months). We have several large roosters with the flock and the hawks won't even come down then, and my husband or I are often out when the weather is nice along with our dogs. The oldest takes his guardian duties seriously. I've witnessed three hawk attacks but every time the chickens were able to dive to safety as we have loads of evergreens, bushes, decks, for them to scoot under.
    Every time we have seen a fox, it has come up from the creek, up the hill or there is a route they take from the neighbor's and approach along a path. I wanted to string electric netting on the two sides of the yard I have seen foxes enter from. If I can do that, they either couldn't enter where the netting was so would be forced to come up the driveway which is very visible or from the very back of the yard which would be an expanse big enough I don't think they would come that way. The chickens don't even go that far back. That way of the chickens were loose in the front area, they would be inside the fencing along with their coop, the house, and the dogs when they are out so that should give them some protection, right?
    Hopefully if the foxes got zapped a few times they would stay away.
     

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