Existing fence, want to add electric fence

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by MadDog44, Dec 30, 2014.

  1. MadDog44

    MadDog44 New Egg

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    Jan 28, 2014
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    Hi all-
    We've been at our new property for a year, and finally lost a silkie from a probable fox attack (just a pile of feathers left, and we hear the fox nightly). We have a secure coop and attached small run, but had been letting the chickens out into a larger penned area during the day. The existing fence is a split rail with two layers of chicken wire attached. There is a small triangular shaped enclosure that leads to a very large enclosure-all with the same fencing.

    My question is: can I add a layer of electric to the top of the existing fencing, or will the fox just dig under the fence if I do that? My understanding is that if you have an electric fence all the way to the ground that you have to keep it clear. We just cleared around the fence this fall, but I expect there are a million vines ready to spring up when it warms. I think it will be hard to keep the vegetation under control, and I also wonder about the snow being an issue.

    Here are some pictures of the area. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Maggie

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  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    With respect to labor and materials cost I would use electrified poultry netting rather than string up that wooden fence. Netting would also contain birds like silkies. Will still leave birds vulnerable to to raptors.
     
  3. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It looks like there's welded wire attached to the wood (if it's just chicken wire and my eyes are deceiving me, ignore this). If that's the area you're trying to secure - you need a line at the bottom (6" off the ground or so) to help prevent diggers, and you need to make the top board of the fence less hospitable as an landing point - most predators IME tend to jump up onto fences like that and then jump down on the other side - they don't really jump right over. I'd run a couple lines - one on the top of the bars, and one on maybe 4-5" standoffs near the top to make the fence "thicker". I'd also run a line right down the middle of the fence at about 'dog nose height'.

    For the areas that don't have the welded wire - poultry netting is probably your best bet.

    It's going to be really tough to completely secure that - the trees right next to the fence are a big problem,


    For keeping fence lines clean - I use roundup a couple times a year - I've got pretty much pure clay for soil - so after a while of no vegetation being there, the clay dries out and stays pretty bare.
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You do understand that you aren't electrifying your entire fence? You will be using insulators and a plastic braided wire threaded through with conductive metal wire. Typically, you string a row at six inches to get inquisitive noses intent on digging under, and another wire strung along the top of the fence. peanut butter or strips of bacon on the wire will assist in delivering the "message".

    As weeds grow up, you do need to keep them from touching the hot wire or else they will ground it out, rendering it inoperable. As for digging under, some poultry netting angled outward and buried a few inches under the soil will discourage diggers.

    But this leaves your yard vulnerable to flying predators. This is one reason a lot of us have gone to the trouble of constructing covered runs, but you can protect the area somewhat by stringing yarn or string across from fence to fence, in a grid pattern, discouraging raptors from flying down into the yard. They don't want to get their wings tangled, usually, but it's not 100%.
     
  5. johanssonmel

    johanssonmel Out Of The Brooder

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    In order for an electric fence to function, it must be insulated from the ground, but low enough that your predators are likely to touch it while still standing on the ground. The idea is that the body of the fox, dog, raccoon, whatever, will complete the circuit from fence to ground.

    This is why an electric wire strung across the top of your fence won't work--the animal has to have one part touching the fence, and another part connected to the ground. This is why squirrels can run along high-voltage wires without getting summarily fried.

    The issue of weeds can be addressed, as someone suggested, with Roundup--or you can get a higher-powered electric fencer, which will burn off weeds as they come in contact with the fencewire.

    I agree with azygous, though--your birds won't be completely secure unless they're in a run with a fenced roof. I let mine out into the backyard from time to time as well, but only when I'm out there to keep an eye on them.
     
  6. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When a predator is climbing a fence and touches the hotwire strung along the top, they complete the circuit with the fence/welded wire/etc that is grounded. Any sort of polywire or other usual electric that you'd use isn't going to support any real predators running along them highwire style. Welded/woven wire fence with a hotwire at the top is a very common, very effective setup.


    I really don't recommend "weed-burner" style chargers (which isn't an issue of power, it's an issue of pulse length) - they start too many fires in dry climates.
     
  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Granted squirrels seem to have super powers when it comes to evading a hot wire, as long as they are in contact with the metal fencing that is grounded by being in contact with the soil at the bottom, and the little twerp touches the hot wire with its wet nose to smell the peanut butter, it will get a shock. For a larger predator, like a bear or bobcat, it will be standing one the ground as it tests the top of the fence before actually beginning to scale it, and it will get a nice shock if it touches the wire with it's nose or tongue, thus the raw bacon or peanut butter. If the soil is damp, icing on the cake. It will feel like getting hit with a 2x4. I know because I always forget it's hot.

    A hot wire set-up requires daily checking to make sure it's not grounding out any where. Many times you can hear a "zap, zap, zap" and see it sparking where it's touching the wire part of the regular fence. You do need to fix that or the fence won't deliver a shock.

    I have every predator you can name, except for the ones you get along a canal in Florida, and since I've hot wired around my runs and gardens, I've had no problems with predator incursion.
     
  8. MadDog44

    MadDog44 New Egg

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    Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. I appreciate you weighing in.

    CrazyTalk,you have a sharp eye! There is welded wire attached to the fence. The chicken wire is just on the lowest part.

    asygous: Yes, I realize you don't electrify the whole fence!

    I have thought about the problem with hawks, but at least in the summer there is a lot of cover for the chickens, and they tend to hang out under a very overgrown, forsythia.

    I also thought about the roundup, and figured we might have to go that route. I just like to avoid chemicals if I can, and it is such a large area around the perimeter. Also, in the summer the trees make the whole area very shady, and I could be mistaken, but I thought roundup works better in direct sunlight.
     
  9. fenwickchic

    fenwickchic Out Of The Brooder

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    "I also thought about the roundup, and figured we might have to !go that route."

    Please don't use Round-Up! It is linked to breast cancer. Try using strong vinegar and/or salt water or use them both together. Just keep in mind, I've heard that if you use salt on the ground nothing will grow there. Not sure how true this is. But I understand that very strong vinegar will work well. There are YouTube videos demonstrating the use of it. Vinegar would be safer for your livestock too.
     
  10. WthrLady

    WthrLady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I make my own.

    1 gallon of white vinegar, 1/2 cup of dawn dish soap,2 cups of epsom salt. Mix..put in pump sprayer. Apply on dry sunny day.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015

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