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electrifying fence - is my husband insane?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by dogsunderfoot, Jan 18, 2010.

  1. dogsunderfoot

    dogsunderfoot New Egg

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    Hi all - I could use some advice about electric fencing. We are relative chicken newbies, just started raising chickens last spring and I love it! We currently have one flock of buff orps with a 6 foot woven wire fence with a hot wire at the top and bottom. It works great. We're looking at raising a couple batches of meat birds this spring and summer in a second coop/run.

    Since the meaties won't be around very long, my husband's objecting to building another Ft. Knox-type run. I was thinking of investing in the Premier electric poultry netting to use for the run. BUT, we already have plastic posts, a fence charger, and lots of woven wire. Could we just electrify the woven wire? (Attach to plastic posts, ground properly, etc. etc.) Or do we need to spend the money on special fencing? My hubby's not usually a nut, and is truly a very careful person, but this idea gives me pause..... So am I a worrywort or is he nuts? [​IMG]
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    In principle you can.

    In practice, it is hard to get it to work well.

    First, it is hard to hang it so it's secure AND fully, 100% totally insulated from grounding out. The woven wire fence you are electrifying must be suspended slightly above the ground, not touching the ground and with no meaningful amount of grass or weeds or whatever touching it (then you still need to digproof at the same time...); and it has to be attached to all of its fenceposts via good electric-fence quality insulators.

    Secondly, that is a lot of resistance and will take a proportionately-large charger to keep sufficient 'zap' in it.

    A better bet would just be to use woven wire to contain the chickens and however many lines of plain ol' electric wire it takes, outside of it, to keep predators offa the fence. How many strands of hotwire it takes depends on what size of wire mesh fencing you're using, how strong it is, and how much of what type of predators you have. Chances are though that even worst-case scenario you could do it with just 4 hotwires on step-in posts a few feet out from the wire mesh fence, whcih would be pretty cheap and easy. (You have to use more secure corner posts, though, like t-posts or at least well tied back step-ins, or the fence will get loose and the lowest wire sag into the grass) I presume it'd be located where you can run it off the same charger as your other one?

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  3. dogsunderfoot

    dogsunderfoot New Egg

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    Thanks much Pat. So in a way, we're both right [​IMG] I like the double fencing idea, might be an easier way to use what we have.
     
  4. KathyK

    KathyK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    dogsunderfoot, I am curious as to what you ended up doing? I am considering the same type of deal for meaties this spring. I want to tractor them, but use an electric perimeter to keep them safe from predators. I am thinking of step in posts with 4 hotwires. If I put this out far enough from the tractor, I would only have to move the outer fence once a week or so and be able to move the tractor daily inside the electric fence. Ideas? Not sure I want to invest in electric poultry netting just yet due to cost and not knowing if raising meat birds will be my thing. [​IMG]
    Kathy
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:I did this the first year or two with my tractor, and I will suggest a couple of things:

    1) it is real hard to get a temporary-post hotwire just a couple-few inches from the ground, because even the teeniest bit of sag makes it ground out. Plan to scalp the grass down to dirt under where the fence goes, but even then, I would also recommend

    2) have your corner posts that the electric's on to be REAL SOLID so they cannot bend or lean AT ALL when you stretch the hotwires on them. I would suggest that if you're going to use step-in posts that you plan on staking them back to another post or tentpeg, very securely. And then at the same time

    3) instead of using wire, use something more flexible like electric twine or rope (depending on what you want its breaking strength to be) AND ADD SPRINGS so you can keep the thing firmly tensioned. A well-equipped farm store may sell electric fence spring tensioners, or you can mail-order them (mine are from Premier, I assume other companies sell them too).

    4) Also use as many step-in line posts as you can afford, as that will also discourage sagging. Honest, even just the most subtle sag will still ground out a wire that is just 2-3" above the ground (Especially as weeds grow overnight, rain weighs the wire down, things shift on their insulators and posts shift in the ground, etc)

    This will give you "reasonably" straight and sag-free hotwires that can therefore be run fairly close down to the ground, to discourage even yer shorter or diggier-minded types of predators.

    You may well want more than just 4 hotwires... I would suggest several more unless the area is already fenced in a way that will "mostly" keep dogs and coyotes out.

    It is not as convenient as electronet but I can certainly understand your wanting to hold off on that investment til you know more for sure exactly what you want to do long-term.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  6. KathyK

    KathyK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Pat,
    Thanks for all of your tips. How would this be any different, as far as shorting out on grass, than the electric poultry netting? Seems like the net would have the same issues. What about the chargers that claim to burn the weeds?
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:It does, to a fair degree; all of what I wrote also pertains to the netting. IME the problem is a bit easier to solve with regular electric strands though (as per the strategy outlined above), whereas the netting because of its weight and the fact you can't spring-tension it just WILL sag no matter what.

    What about the chargers that claim to burn the weeds?

    I think they are generally a menace and would not recommend them for hardly anyone. Yeah yeah, I know plenty of satisfied users. I know plenty of satisfied users of all sorts of things, that does not necessarily make them the best idea [​IMG] Also they do zero to help vs the fence sagging onto the ground itself.

    JMHO,

    Pat​
     
  8. barrelmom

    barrelmom Out Of The Brooder

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    I have an open air coop within a large enclosed chain link run. To make it more predator resistant we ran two hot wires around the perimeter - one about 6 inches off the ground and the other about three feet off the ground and then grounded the hot wires to the fence. We do have to keep the grass trimmed to keep it from grounding out at the bottom, but otherwise it works great. I made the mistake the other day of leaning against a hot wire and touching the chain link fence at the same time. It zapped the heck out of me! It would certainly deter me!
     
  9. kateseidel

    kateseidel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I use the electric poultry netting (the garden version) to keep the hens, dogs and other critters OUT of my garden. Not sure why, exactly, but it does NOT ground out when it is touching grass, tomatoes, weeds, etc. It works great, although since it is only 32" high or so, the hens could fly out if they wanted to.
     
  10. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:The means you described will not work because when it rains it will ground out the hot wire. As far as the double fence thing goes, I suspect that you will find that keeping the weeds under control will become a real headache.

    See 'My BYC Page'Gerry
    [​IMG]

    PS: As far as tensioning the hot wire, I used springs to keep mine tight. They are 160 ft long and stay tight all of the time.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2011

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