Need to put up 800' of fence for the chickens. Advice on type and height?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RichnSteph, Mar 11, 2015.

  1. RichnSteph

    RichnSteph Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our flock has grown into a much larger version of what it was supposed to be initially (shocking, I know) and they've now learned that they can roam the entire neighborhood since most of our neighbors adore them. So the issue now is that they wander over probably 5 acres, only one of which belongs to us, and I have to put a stop to it. I've got roughly 800' of fence to install to keep the chickens on our property and was thinking of going with a 6' tall fencing but with our sandy soil I'd have to run 10' posts so I can get 4' of them in the ground. We've done some looking and are just about settled on a 4' tall fence with two strands of barbed wire at the 4.5' and 5' mark. This will allow the deer to still come in the yard with little effort, keep out most large (dog) predators and hopefully keep the chickens within their boundaries.

    Will the fence described above keep the birds in? They are ranging all over primarily because all the neighbors have green grass and since our place is brand new and the land hasn't been cleared yet we have none.
     
  2. LBKS

    LBKS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think your fencing might be good since the single strands take it up over the 4' mark, though it probably depends on how heavy your breeds are and how much they enjoy wandering. I have 4' fence with a single strand of smooth wire (from guiding the post sets) about 6" over top, and have only seen about a dozen fence hops last year either directly or from dogs getting the jumpers. This is with basically all day free ranging to test the fence.

    My only caveat is to consider your breeds -- I have no illusions that my fence deters my bantam hen. She only stays in the boundary because the flock does. Thankfully some of the flock has silkied feathering so they couldn't jump a 3' fence if they tried.

    The only other thing I think you might want to watch is the fact that they are used to wandering the other areas, they might have extra incentive to keep fence hopping once it goes up. If you want to be absolutely sure I'd suggest clipping feathers on one wing, at the very least on likely hoppers.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Here's a physical fact about chickens. Chickens don't normally "fly" over tall barriers. In fact, they navigate tall barriers in two steps, first leaping/flapping up to a sturdy landing at the top, and then pausing while they decide where they will land on the other side. In navigating tall barriers, they need a stable landing at the very top, whether it's two feet, four feet or six feet high. A sturdy wire, barbed or not, provides just such a landing.

    On the other hand, if the top of the fence is a flimsy landing such as a couple feet of plastic deer net fencing, it's not the sturdy landing that chickens feel comfortable landing on. After a couple of trial escapes, they will probably decide it isn't worth the effort because it's not secure enough to land on.

    So your objective is to provide a barrier around the perimeter of your acre with a top strand of some material that chickens will find too flimsy to safely pause on before completing their escape, thus discouraging them from making the attempt. To keep predators from demolishing your fence to get inside to the chickens, a hot wire installed down low and just short of the top around the outside will solve that problem if you have it.
     
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  4. MamaRudey

    MamaRudey Chillin' With My Peeps

    My old fence was 6' deer netting, nothing close to "rest" on the way up and my heavy breed chickens could still fly over it. I would invest in a run of hotwire on the top of the fence or a run with a "roof". Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015
  5. RichnSteph

    RichnSteph Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks folks! We are removing the chickens run completely and fencing off the entire acre for them to "run" in. We've plenty of trees and cover for them to get under in case of hawks or things of that nature. Looks like we'll head to TSC this weekend and pick up some fence posts, fence and wire. All I've got is a manual post hole digger so this should be an interesting work out for this old man. [​IMG]
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I sure hope your soil is not that rocky. The two worst things digging those post holes by hand are rocks and when the ground is dried out hard as a rock. Sand doesn’t sound that bad to me after what I go through with rocky clay, especially in the dry summer. Anyway, digging that many in sand will still get you in shape. You might consider metal T-posts as intermediates with a strong post every so often and at the corners. Driving those T-posts might be a whole lot easier on you though they may not be as pretty. That will still get you in shape. Good luck with it.

    The tip about the top landing spot is a good one. In my opinion, that causes more chickens to get out than anything else. They fly up there to perch then who knows which side they’ll hop down on. Your wooden fence posts might be considered a good landing spot. Not sure. Maybe another advantage of metal T-posts.

    I use a little over 200 feet of 4’ tall electric netting to keep my chickens in and four-footed critters out. Your fence should work pretty well at keeping them in, but since they are already used to roaming some may still want to. Mine were roaming like yours before I put up the electric netting but stopped after I used the netting.

    Mine don’t normally get out. Occasionally one will get trapped against the fence in a conflict and go vertical to get away. Sometimes that means they land on the wrong side of the fence. This is practically always young cockerels going through their hormonal changes that like to spar a lot. I usually wait until dark and pick them from their roost to put them back. They always roost near their grow-out pen so it is easy for me to get them.

    I’ve only had one adult hen get out, I assume trying to get away from an amorous rooster. When I tried to herd her toward a gate to let her back in, she casually flew over the fence and landed back inside. That was a full sized adult hen with no wings clipped. She cleared the top of that 4 feet high netting by at least a foot. My full sized chickens, including the rooster, can easily fly up to my five foot high roosts. They can fly pretty well, but they tend not to unless they have some motivation.

    Several years back I had some penned in a run with a five foot high fence around it. Three hens learned they could fly out, probably initially by avoiding an amorous rooster. Those three got out every day until I raised the run fencing to over eight feet. Then they quit. There was nothing solid for them to land on at the top of my 5’ fence but they flew over it anyway.

    Chickens are living animals. They don’t come with guarantees. I think your plan is excellent though I’d give real strong consideration to using some longer T-posts so you can drive them deep with a solid post every once in a while to add stability just for ease of installation. At least you should not have cows or horses pushing against it to lay it over. You may find you have some that still like to roam that you have to deal with, maybe trimming feathers though I’m always looking for volunteers to join me for supper. Often when that kind of stuff happens there is one instigator and a few followers.

    Good luck and wear gloves.
     
  7. RichnSteph

    RichnSteph Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The farthest I've dug out here so far is 4' and it was sand all the way and the only problem I've really encountered are the darn tree roots. I've got a hundred or so T posts laying out there that are going to go in between the wood posts, I'm thinking a wood post every 20' with T posts in between them. We'll be building corner braces to stretch the fence off of (just as soon as I build a fence stretcher) so that it'll be tight and look at good as possible for field fencing.

    Gloves and a cold beer are a must for ranch/farm/yard work. [​IMG]


    RichnSteph
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’m used to different country than you are in. 8’ foot post spacing is pretty normal with cows and horses reaching through a barbed wire fence to graze on that greener grass. It is greener because they are not grazing it that much and they really like to reach for that bit just out of reach. And my rocky clay holds up better than your sand when something starts pushing on it unless it is soggy wet.

    You are looking at it and can see what spacing other people use, but I’d probably be lazy and use a wooden post maybe every 40’ with t-posts on 10 foot centers the way I envision what you have. But you are looking at it and I’m not. You sound like you know how to build a fence. Good luck.
     
  9. RichnSteph

    RichnSteph Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I hadn't considered going with 40' spacing...... once I get a brace put in the ground I'll be better able to tell how hard I can pull to stretch the fence.


    Oh and this will be my first ever attempt at building a field fence. [​IMG]

    Thanks for the advice!
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    You might want to keep the run up (especially if it is covered) in case you have an issue where they might need to be contained, or at least until the other fencing is up and functioning as planned.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2015

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