Hog Panel Run Hardware Cloth Question

Evolvingspirit

In the Brooder
Oct 19, 2021
27
56
49
Of course, it depends on your predator threat. I just have my chicken run with 2X4 fencing and that keeps out my daytime predators (mainly neighborhood dogs and cats) and I lock up my chickens in a Fort Knox chicken coop at night.



I don't think anything I have would stop a mountain lion from getting at my chickens. But I don't have that as a primary concern where I live. There was a couple of mountain lions that came through my property at night about 2 years before I got my chickens, but it was a one time deal and I have never seen/heard them since.



Very well said. I don't even have a predator apron on my chicken run. But I don't worry much about predators digging during the daytime, and at night my chickens are locked up in their coop. If a neighborhood dog or cat shows up in the yard, my chickens run into the coop and stay inside until the threat leaves the yard. So I decided that my money was better spend elsewhere. Chicks cost me about $3.00 each, but laying down a hardware cloth predator apron would cost me hundreds. For 10 chickens, I just can't justify spending that extra money on the chance a predator might come by during the day.

If a chicken gets hurt or sick, I have to tend to them myself. I could replace my entire backyard flock 2-3 times over for the cost of a single visit to our local vet - who does not know anything more about chickens than I do.

And speaking of chicken economics, if you think your backyard chickens will ever pay for themselves in egg production, you are probably in for a disappointment. For sure, I enjoy my fresh backyard organic eggs, but the reality is that I can buy a dozen eggs at the big box stores for less than $1.00 per dozen where I live. I don't ever expect to see a profit on having a backyard flock if only measured in eggs collected. I just enjoy having a backyard flock of my own and that, to me, is priceless.
Thank you so much!. I'm just concerned about the state of the world and want to have some back up food just in case. Maybe I'm paranoid. Lol
 

gtaus

Free Ranging
Mar 29, 2019
3,285
12,576
657
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
I'm just concerned about the state of the world and want to have some back up food just in case. Maybe I'm paranoid.

Well, I had fresh eggs everyday during the height of the Covid pandemic shutdown when the local big box stores had empty shelves instead of egg cartons for sale. So, for a brief moment in time, I was a hero to Dear Wife and some of our friends who buy eggs from us.
 

Evolvingspirit

In the Brooder
Oct 19, 2021
27
56
49
Well, I had fresh eggs everyday during the height of the Covid pandemic shutdown when the local big box stores had empty shelves instead of egg cartons for sale. So, for a brief moment in time, I was a hero to Dear Wife and some of our friends who buy eggs from us.
That's what I'm thinking. I am a egg freak and have to get my eggszersize every day. Lol
 

Tankueray

Bird Nerd
Premium Feather Member
Feb 12, 2021
249
581
136
West Texas
Cattle panels do not make good fencing, the holes are too big, the panels are heavy and unwieldy, and you always eventually have to pull out the disc grinder for something. Field fence is much cheaper for that length of perimeter. 50x50 is a good sized run, and you won't need an apron. Back up and start with the basics.

TL;DR:
  • Basic - Fence the yard, secure the coop.
  • Intermediate - Electric wire around perimeter, string and shiny things in the air, motion lights.
  • Advanced - Aerial netting, cameras, snake netting, wildlife habitat.
  • Crazy Chicken Lady (me) - patrol robot with advanced non-lethal weaponry, bluetooth speakers, and a cup holder. 😉

The links below are NOT affiliate links, I'm just giving away all my shopping secrets. I don't have a problem spending money on an exceptional product, but I do not waste money when I don't have to! (And there are tons of opportunities to waste money in the chicken keeping arena.) You don't have to be an engineer or a contractor, but if you can use basic tools and are able to do the work, there's not anything I can think of that you can't do well (or even better) on a budget.

I have all the cool predators except for bear. My fence so far is keeping out bobcats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, hogs, cats, and dogs (as seen on my cameras). All my losses since the (electrified) fence have been to hawks and two giant owls, so netting is going up next. Here's my basic setup:

Yard
  • 6 foot T-posts every 7 feet around the perimeter and fenced with 2"x4" 48" field fencing (cheaper at Lowe's). I used these wedge-locs to make the corners. How they work (video). If you want to save some money and you have hard ground, you can go with the 5.5' posts, but I don't recommend the 5' ones.
  • A heavy layer of mulch about 2 feet on either side of the fence to keep down weeds, and the chickens love to scratch around in it. (Call a local tree service and see if they'll deliver a load of mulch for cheap or free, or try ChipDrop.com.)
  • T-post electric fence insulators, I like the 5" ones, three lines of electric fence wire at the bottom, and one line at the top (on the to-do list, I currently only have 2 lines at the bottom and my gates are unprotected). The 2" insulators for the top, or run your fence on the inside and use the reverse insulators for the outside wire (might also prevent the problem I'm having with arcing two bullets down.)
  • The wires are connected to the 30 mile electric fence charger that TSC sells for about $100. I can tell you from a very shocking personal experience 😲 that charger will knock back anything up to and probably including a bear. (FYI, the solar chargers are worthless unless you're in the $350+ price range, and I'd go with Premier1 if I'm spending that kind of money.)
  • I covered the fence in grommeted shade panels, like you see around tennis courts. I bought 4'x50' ones on Amazon for around $30 each. Zip ties for each grommet and through the mesh to the fence wire in various places to keep it from flapping. The only downside is that when the wind blows toward the outside of the fence, it can push the fence into the electric wire and arc. This might be solved by putting it on the same side as the electric wire, so the mesh cloth will act as an insulator if it touches the wire (you'd have to cut the mesh and burn the edges of the cut with a torch to keep it from fraying). (If you're in CA, no sparks is good sparks!)
  • I set an extra t-post about 1' out from each corner to run the electric wire around so it wouldn't get too close to arc to the fence. I used these Lock-Jawz insulators for rounding the corners.
  • Tools needed - Linesman pliers, fence post pounder, screwdriver, stakes and string if you want it straight.
    • Tools recommended - mallet (for persuading the t-post insulators to snap on), clip bender (screwdriver will work, but I will say that thing was money well spent). One of those rolling stools for putting on all those dumb insulators.
    • Tools not needed - fence stretcher, you can make your own with 2 lengths of 2x4 and some bolts. There are also a dozen other ways to do it, just ask YouTube. T-post puller - nice to have if you do a lot of fencing, but a cup of water and your body weight will easily get the job done.
    • Don't forget - T-posts at TSC come with free clips if you buy a certain quantity, I think 10 or more. Make sure the load out folks give them to you.
Coop
  • 8x11-ish hoop coop, made with cattle panels, hardware cloth, and metal siding. (See the 5th-9th images here on my profile page.) Yes, I put wheels on it, but I can only move it with a 40HP tractor. You can put an apron on the coop if you'd like.
  • Dusk/dawn automatic coop door (about $80 used from Amazon warehouse) hooked up to a 100W solar panel and small battery (the system currently runs two auto coop doors - low voltage landscape wiring runs from the battery in the main coop to the coop next to it). I had a 7W solar panel running the single door and battery setup prior, it worked fine, but I'd go with at least 25W if you're not in full sun all the time. Battery and charge controller are mounted to the ridge beam. (This is similar to my charge controller, it's kept dry in a plastic food storage container from Dollar Tree.) Put the 100W panel on it and you can run USB lights or fans in the summer.
    • Cheap version - go to the auto salvage yard and get window or windshield wiper motors to make your own coop door, and a very small car radiator fan for coop exhaust. (This requires knowledge of what circuit boards to buy to control everything and soldering skills.)
  • The ducks and chickens go to bed in the coop(s) at night, but yes, the ducks annoy the chickens and dirty up the place something crazy. I'm thinking about trying a pallet coop for the ducks, but honestly, unless the owls are out or the coyotes are close, the ducks stay out and roam around the yard at night; it's nearly impossible to convince them otherwise.
Aerial
  • I'm working on this now. There are a lot of trees in the yard, so I started by running bailing twine around them about 12-15 feet high, and to a telescoping flag pole in the center. Added x-mas balls and garland from Dollar Tree, old CDs, and anything shiny and reflective that will move in the wind. I also put up the flag that came with the pole (my chickens are Ameraucanas 🤣). I installed the pole by removing the bottom plug and slipped it over a 6' t-post pounded down to about 3' sticking out of the ground.
  • Next up is 2 more flag poles to serve as supports/anchors for 2.5" mesh bird netting. (Again, used from Amazon warehouse about $18.) I bought the 50'x50' size so I have more options for placing it (I'm thinking about fanning it out from the flag poles or a tree). It will be run above the bailing twine so the twine can act as a support. Some edges of the netting may be secured to the top of the perimeter fence. A pizza pan from Dollar Tree can serve as a disc to support the netting, drill a hole in the center and mount under the ball on the flag pole.
  • Larger mesh is better for not catching all the leaves and twigs that fall onto it, and the flag poles allow me to lower it down so I can use the ladder less for maintaining it. (Or raise it so I can still drive my tractor in the yard.)
Other
  • Wi-fi cameras - they're really finicky, but I can see the yard while I'm at work, and when they actually record properly, the creatures that are wandering around the perimeter at night.
  • Motion triggered solar spotlights - from Harbor Freight, I bought one from Lowes that has a strobe function, which should be another good deterrent, but I've yet to try it. (Lowe's doesn't seem to carry it anymore, also, the plastic angle adjustment broke in the heat within a month. It can still be used, but that's kind of crappy.)
  • Wildlife habitat - I try to maintain a 6-10' mowed swath around my chicken yard between it and the adjacent creek area (like a fire break), plant forage grasses, and have a big ol' dead tree pile near the creek to encourage more natural prey (rabbits live in the pile, quail in the underbrush, migratory waterfowl in the creek, etc.) for all the predators. They usually try to stay away from human habitats as long as they have plenty of other things to eat.
    • Skunks don't care, so I put down Repels-All around the perimeter, and the cheapest, stinkiest men's cologne around porches and sheds that they like to live under (skunks hate strong smells), apply once a week during breeding season. I use repeater traps for mice (they are awesome).
    • Nest boxes have that cheap bird netting triple layered around the outside to trap snakes (Youtube video). (It works, I accidentally caught a rat snake in the garden in it and spent about an hour cutting it out. We were both unharmed, rattlesnakes and copperheads do not get such mercy.)
    • Men folk are given plenty of beer and directed to pee around the fence line. Sometimes I turn off the fence charger first. 😉 I let my dog pee around inside the yard all he wants.
    • You can contact your state wildlife agency or your County Extension Agent for more ideas better suited to your area.
  • Other other - If you're running pressurized water to the yard, there are some nifty water deterrents that may (or may not) work. Livestock Guardian Dog. Part-time security guard. Giant dome. Killer robot.
Random Stuff I wish I would've found sooner
  • Something I will recommend that is pretty pricey, a roll out nest box. It's amazing. I won an unused one at an auction this spring for half the price, but it's worth the full price, especially if you want clean eggs to sell/give away. It is a luxury for my benefit though, the chickens are just as fine with a 5 gallon bucket or a milk crate.
  • At the other end of the price spectrum, my ducks' new favorite is the covered kitty litter box from TSC (door removed), and some of the chickens use it too. Not picking up dirty duck eggs or going on an easter egg hunt every day is wonderful!
  • Keep a bag of powdered Corid, a bottle of Nutri-drench, and an isolation cage or folding crate on-hand, all the time. You will need them in an emergency and not have time to go buy them.
  • Unless you're seeking retail certification or have very strong views on the subject, save money and don't buy big box store organic or non-GMO. You are not going to get pesticides or mutagens in your body from eating eggs from chickens that were fed the regular stuff. So many things nowadays are "greenwashed" and it really is more about profit than conscientiousness. But if that's your thing, buy it from a small, local producer or mill where you can see where their ingredients are grown for yourself. Probably the most GMO thing ever is corn, I find it extremely hard to believe that all the major mills can source enough non-GMO corn that they don't run short every year. Someone has to be blurring a line somewhere.
For your daughter's peace of mind (I read about her concerns in the other thread - I'm a biologist, former keeper at two of the Nation's premier Zoos, and have decades of experience in animal behavior and wildlife rehabilitation and habitat restoration; animals have been my lifelong passion). The key to animal confinement is enrichment, give them stuff to do, problems to solve, things to play on, and grasshoppers, lots of grasshoppers. If you do not protect them from predators, they will be much more anxious and "psychologically damaged" from constant fear of being eaten (please note that I do not subscribe to her assessment, but I respect her compassion); plus she's probably going to have a problem with burying so many of them. (The key to being a responsible steward for animals is not to anthropomorphize them.) If you put the electric wire on the outside of the fence, they will be fine, and likely not ever know that it's there.

Sometimes with the portable mesh fences, chicks can get stuck in the bottom row while trying to go through the fence and get electrocuted. (Premier1 is the only supplier I know of that has a fence that the bottom two rows can be de-energized just for that reason.) That is generally not a concern with permanent electric fencing.

An electric fence is responsible husbandry. Ultimately, it's your money being spent (or wasted by loss to predators), and your call. Good luck (and thank you for caring about both your daughter's feelings and your poultry's safety).
 

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