How to build bird-safe electric fence?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Smith45, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. Smith45

    Smith45 New Egg

    Aug 7, 2013
    I'm going to begin installing perimeter fencing around almost half of my property, roughly 5 acres and 1500 feet.

    Right now we have 18 guineas and 15 chickens that all free range unless I'm going to be gone all day. We have 4 ducklings and 3 poults that will eventually join the others for free forage time, but they're still pretty young.

    I'd love to buy 6' wire fencing but I just don't think I'll have the funds for the quantity I'm going to need, so I'm planning to go with something shorter like 4' and put a strand of hot wire along the top.

    The purpose of the fencing will be to discourage interlopers such as coyotes, fox, and the occasional bobcat, while keeping future goats and piggies inside. I'll have to put up pasture dividers here and there, but that will all come later.

    My question is specific to making the hotwire as safe for my birds as I can, particularly the guineas. I initially installed 3 strands of hot wire outside of their coop and run, before they were old enough to be turned out. Two young guineas found a way out of their run one day, and unfortunately one of them was electrocuted by the lowest "don't dig under my fence" strand. I was inside and heard distress calls, and came outside to find one already dead under the wire and the other one continually bouncing off of it in desperate attempts to rejoin her colleagues. They can be so smart and so stupid at times...

    So I'm imagining the guineas will be going back and forth over the fence I put up, and I don't want them getting either frightened away from the yard, or just plain fried.

    I thought about just shutting it off during the day while they're out, but if I have goats eventually I'm going to want to keep them in...

    Any suggestions on a safe design?

  2. fiddlebanshee

    fiddlebanshee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2010
    Frederick, MD
    If your hot wire is only on the top, the guinea will not get fried because she would be perching on it (unlikely because too wobbly a perch?), or touching it in flight, while not making contact with the ground. It is only when a part of their body is touching the ground that they can be electrocuted.
  3. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    When I added electric netting around my bird's yard area, I let them out for an hour at a time, and stayed with them so I could intervene if necessary if they got tangled up in the netting. I had a couple of birds who got zapped and tried to run through the net fence, and I had to run over and rush them so they would back out of the net. I did this for 3 one hour sessions, and every bird got zapped and quickly learned not to touch the fence. I have not had any issues since then.

    I also agree with fiddlebanshee, if you only have 1 hot wire on top of a 4 ft fence, only an animal who is touching both the ground and the wire gets zapped. Most predators - raccoons, coyotes, bobcat, opossums etc are not that big, so they won't be deterred. You could put a wire at 3 inches (stop them from digging) and again at 12 and 24 inches, to stop them from climbing. But they have to touch the wire and the ground at the same time in order to get zapped, so low wire are generally better than high wires.

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