Keeping chickens safe rather than predators out

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by atlanticchicks, Apr 17, 2017.

  1. atlanticchicks

    atlanticchicks New Egg

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    We're just about to start keeping chickens and is all new to us. It's only going to be a hobby to give the kids an education in other aspects of life-not a business. We are in the west coast of Ireland so our potential predators are foxes and badgers. We live beside a field that keeps cattle in the summer but is on a slope.

    Ideally we want to use a section of this field for the chickens and make it as free range as we can. One idea is to use electric fence wire (we already have plenty of this and a permanent power source for it). If we had 3 strings- one at the top for the cattle, 2 lower down for foxes, badgers do you think this would keep the chikens in? If it was a possibility we could give them a really big area to roam free in.

    I saw someone suggested putting the coop/run away from the edge of the area to deter them getting close to the wire I guess???

    Anyway all advice and help appreciated!
     
  2. Hillaire

    Hillaire Chillin' With My Peeps

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    the chickens would definitely be able to go through those three strands one way or another... I would suggest woven wire (poultry fencing) that is electric... super affective for keeping chickens in and ground dwelling predators out.
     
  3. atlanticchicks

    atlanticchicks New Egg

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    Apr 17, 2017

    Even if the lower strands are about 5 & 10 inches off the ground? We'd be giving them an area about 40ft by 40-60ft to roam in. No way we could give it that big if we've to fully fence it in-will have to be much smaller.
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Also keep in mind that foxes can jump very high.
    I once saw a video from Britain that had a pen with about a 10' high fence. The bottom and top had electric wire. After many attempts, the fox was able to jump/climb in.
     
  5. dianneS

    dianneS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They make electrified netting that is ideal for keeping poultry in and predators out. It can even be made portable.
     
  6. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have an area out back that is fenced only with hot WIRE electric fencing. I am using 4 strands of wire, the lowest one being about 5 inches off the ground. The highest is about 20 inches or so. Low enough I can step over it. It is keeping predators out and believe it or not, the chickens in.

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    If this was not an electric fence, the birds and predators would ignore it completely, But once it goes hot, that changes everything. There is a learning curve, but all eventually get zapped and they are seldom willing to do it twice. The birds were trained with only the lower two wires. They would walk up to it and step on it. You could tell when they got hit as they would launch several feet into the air and would cut loose with some seriously indignant cackling. Now, they walk up to it, but don't touch it and won't cross over. If one does get on the other side (none have in about 8 months now), they can easily hop over it or punch through. They will do it in a panic, but don't test it otherwise.

    I also found out over the weekend my neighbor has a fox living under a shed. That is less than 100 yards from this fence, yet the birds have all survived in there for nearly a year now, with no birds lost. Yesterday evening, just before dusk, a pack of coyotes opened up about 200 yards from the house. It was really loud. So they are around too, but they leave things inside the wire alone. Those same neighbors tell me they also watched as their dog caught sight of the birds the first time and headed on over here to investigate. Then it hit the hot wire, let out a yelp, ran home and has never shown any interest since. That was from them, not me.

    With predators, it does seem to help if the coop and primary activity areas are away from the perimeter, so they are not right there tempting fate.

    My suggestion is to try it.

    For the cattle, you only need the top wire, and move it up to about 30 inches (.75 meters?) above the ground. They won't mess with it either. If you use the poly rope for them, they will be able to see it easier. But do leave at least the bottom 3 wires for the foxes and other predators to find.
     
  7. atlanticchicks

    atlanticchicks New Egg

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    Apr 17, 2017
    Howard
    Are you saying use the regular wire we use for the cattle at the top (I think it's white-def not metal). And then a metal wire for the bottom strands?

    My husband will be delighted if we can go with this as he's not meant to 'fence' within this area. He can use this electric fencing but building a permanent large chicken run would have been not possible.

    I'll show him your photos. I think it will only mean getting a few extra poles for the fencing and maybe the metal wire.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
  8. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The existing fence you have now is probably either poly rope or the poly tape. Both are poly material, with strands of metal woven in to act as the conductor.

    I used 17 gauge aluminum wire for the fence shown in the photos. It is both durable and the bright shiny wire is visible and does not rust. To keep the area clear below the fence, I use a string trimmer / weed whacker / weed eater. I run it along the ground in an attempt to kill everything beneath the wires to: a: keep the ground clear to avoid having weeds and grass ground it out; b: expose bare soil to assure a better ground for the predator and chicken to stand on so as to deliver a nice (?) shock, and; c: the clear zone makes it easy for the birds and predators to recognize where the fence is to better identify where the perimeter is.

    The wire fence is durable enough you can tangle with it now and then with the string trimmer and no harm will come to it. Note on the second photo the ratcheting tensioners. These help keep the fence tight so it does not sag over the long runs. They only cost a few dollars each and are a huge help with these wire fences.

    For the long runs, I am only using the white step in posts, and use the bottom four clips to adjust the height of the fence. Hard insulators on steel T posts set deep for the corners. Both are shown in the photos.

    For the cattle portion of the fence, just use the highest clip on the white posts and keep things level to that.
     
  9. atlanticchicks

    atlanticchicks New Egg

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    I definitely think it's worth trying as the outlay on wire and posts won't be too much and if it doesn't work for us they will be useful somewhere for cattle. If we get houdini chickens then we'll think again. There's a permanent D-rail fence between our house and the field. I think we'll put regular chicken wire along that as one side of the rectangle and then use electric fencing as the other 3 sides.
     
  10. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Having seen these wire fences in use, I am beginning to wonder if they are superior to the poultry netting fences. The reason being those present a physical barrier in addition to the psychological one. The wire is not much of a physical barrier at....almost none. So animals tend treat it like they do any other flimsy fence and try to crawl under or through it, almost assuring they get zapped in the process. Once zapped, they back off and are reluctant to get that twice. They don't understand anything about an electric fence, except it metes out a level of pain they want no part of.
     
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