open top chicken run

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ampho, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. ampho

    ampho Chirping

    Aug 28, 2013
    Northern NJ
    We are building a coop (almost done) and run, I have seen a setup at a neighbors where she has had success with approx 4 foot tall fencing (open top) surrounded by electric (3 wire) fence. The chickens fly out and free-range during the day and fly over back into the fenced run/coop at night and when predators chase them, usually foxes. Does anyone have a any experience or success with this type of set up? (they will be secure in coop at night)
  2. dcbcaaron

    dcbcaaron In the Brooder

    Feb 3, 2009
    Dry Creek, LA
    my coworker has a similar setup, a little taller than 4 feet, it's closer to 6, but he hasn't had any issues that I know of.
  3. JackE

    JackE Crowing

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    I have my coop surrounded by 600' of 4' high electrified poultry netting. My chickens stay inside the fence. I guess the area is big enough for them, and they don't want to go anywhere. Had the fence over 11/2 yrs, and it has been the answer as far a predators go.

  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    It won't stop any birds of prey...
  5. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Crowing

    Oct 24, 2009
    If you have predators in your area such as foxes and hawks, then this idea is no good.

    The fox will easily catch the chickens when they are out of their run.

    The hawks have easy access to the birds as the run is not covered.

    Predators may even dig under the fence. And even with the electric wire, 4 foot high is too low. A determined dog or fox could just jump over it without touching the wire.

    I would make the fence much taller - at least 6 foot, and cover the top. Still use the electric wire...that is a great idea.

    You can let the bird out to free range if you are there to keep an eye on them.
  6. JackE

    JackE Crowing

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    Well, they been out there over 11/2 yrs with no problems, and I have hawks, eagles, everything short of a condor. Chickens, my chickens anyway, learn about the dangers from hawks. In the pic,see that big brushy area behind the coop? That's where they go when the hawks come around. They hear a hawk, they head for cover. I've even seen them react when the crows gives their hawk warning call. They learned that. I am not saying that the fence is the answer to everything. But, they ARE a heck of a lot safer now, inside that fence.
  7. JackE

    JackE Crowing

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    A dog or fox WILL NOT just jump over. I have a sizable population of fox around here. Along with dogs that are just out running around. An animal will always check out something strange with their nose. And when they do that with this fence, they quickly lose all interest in a chicken dinner. They would not be selling many of these fences, if they were as easily defeated as you describe. They have a Long proven track record of success.
    Also, I've read on this forum many times about people having their chickens attacked, With them standing right there. A hawk, or even a fox, will run right up and snatch a chicken with you out there watching. That's why, when I let my birds out of the wire, I'm armed, anything dumb enough to try and get one of mine, won't get another chance, they'll be taking a dirt nap.
    1 person likes this.
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Fencing a run is interesting in that so many different people get such different results. I’ve had full grown full sized hens get out of a 5’ high 12’ x 32’ run. They learned they could when trying to get away from an amorous rooster, then started doing it every day. They did not understand how to get back in when it became bedtime, though they desperately wanted back in.

    I now use 4’ high electric netting to enclose an area maybe 30’ x 65’. I practically never have a chicken get out. About the only time it’s a problem is when I have juvenile cockerels working on their pecking order. One gets trapped against the fence and goes vertical to get away. Again, once out they don’t know to get back in the same way they got out. When I had it configured longer and narrower I had more escapees. I think they got trapped in the end and couldn’t get away from the other except by going vertical. They can easily clear the 4’ high fencing, but without the motivation, they just don’t get out.

    Their feathers insulate them from the electricity, but if they hit the netting with their comb or wattles while standing on the ground, they will get shocked. They eventually learn not to do that.

    Some people lose chickens to hawks. There is no doubt that hawks will kill and eat chickens. Like Jack, I’ve got hawks all over the place but just don’t lose any to hawks. It is a risk. It could happen today. But just because something could happen does not mean that it will each and every opportunity. When mine spot a hawk, vulture, any bird overhead they take cover.

    A fox will attack from ambush, sneak up and grab a chicken before it has a chance to run or fly. Don’t count on them escaping. And certainly do not expect them to be able to figure out how to get back in once they get out. What is happening with your neighbor’s is rare.

    I used to free range, no fences at all. I lost two chickens to foxes in three years. I could live with that since my food bill drops so much when they can forage. But then people started abandoning dogs out here. I lost several chickens to a pair before I could deal with it. Then a few months later, I lost several more to another abandoned dog. That’s when I went with the electric netting. Since then, I have not lost any to hawks, foxes, coyotes, or dogs. Yes, foxes, coyotes, and many dogs could possibly jump over that 4’ fence if they wanted to. But the normal way they approach it is to sniff it first. When they get shocked, they just leave and don’t come back.

    I always lock them in a very secure coop at night. I think that is very important.
  9. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Crowing

    Oct 24, 2009
    I see your system works well for you. I am just offering my advise to the OP that its a good idea to make the run more secure and covered.

    Yes, chickens can get attacked when people are standing with them, but then only one bird is usually lost. However, if a dog or fox gets into the run and coop when no one is there it can kill ALL of the chickens.

    If chickens can fly out of the run, then they are up for grabs by any predator. They can get ambushed, taken by surprised, spooked, and not get back to the run in time if they have wandered some distance away from it or are interested in feeding or squabbling with each other.

    An electric fence . wires, are great. I used them to keep cats off my budgie aviary. However, for a persistent prey driven dog (or coyote or fox), a small predators, eg, Mink can easily get past the electric wire around the perimeter fence.

    Also there is no protection from hawks at all in an open run, in particular one with low fences give the birds easy access.

    Your system looks great and clearly works for you. Its up the the OP to decided what they would like to chooses. Its good we can have many options for them to consider.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  10. scooter147

    scooter147 Songster

    Jul 30, 2008
    I need those chickens that fly out and then fly back in at night or when a predator approaches to come teach my chickens new tricks.
    I rarely have had chickens (my run is covered now) that fly out then figure out how to get back in. Some do but most "walk" the fence looking for a way back in and in the past when I lived way out and the neighbor came over with his dog, a dog they didn't trust they attempt to get back in was a run around the run with violent runs into the fence. Few flew back in.

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