question about electric fencing and bears

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by brookfieldreds, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. brookfieldreds

    brookfieldreds Hatching

    Oct 26, 2009
    Last fall we lost 4 of our 5 RIRs to a bear, who ripped the doors off our very sturdy coop. The conservation officer came out and confirmed it was a bear and said that electric fence would be the only thing to keep the bear from getting at the coop. We've been chicken-less since (our last girl went off to happily join a friend's flock). Yesterday I went to the local hardware store and bought a solar fence charger, wire, grounding rod and post insulators. The guy who helped me was very knowledgeable, but his experience is with using fence to keep his cattle, horses and pigs in - not keeping a bear out.

    Our plan is to put the electric fence around the coop (approx 20 foot square area) and let our new chickens (once we get them) free range during the day. We plan to only activate the fence at night when the girls are in the coop.

    While we have had coyotes and fox in the yard, we only had one problem when a coyote came through the yard and grabbed one of our hens. I didn't see the coyote after that - I think someone in the area took care of it.

    My questions are:

    1) Do we need to put up a 5 wire fence? The predator fencing recommendation I saw said to space the wires at 6" - 8" - 10" - 10" - 10". If not, can we get away with 1 strand at bear nose height? If so, what would be the best height?

    2) The conservation officer told us to bait the fence for a week with hot dogs so that anything that would be interested in the coop gets a zap. Others have said that the sound an electric fence makes is enough to deter a bear. Has anyone else baited their fence? What would you recommend?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Google the subject for recommendations from actual people -- especially beekeepers --- but my understanding is that a 1 or 2-strand fence is not especially safe or foolproof, although obviously it's better than *nothing*. There is a real practical limit to how low the lowest strand can be, though, unless you want a huge maintenance headache. I would not plan on having the lowest strand lower than 12" at the very lowest. Otherwise it will be grounding out all the time and you lose the usefulness of your fence.

    My understanding is that you should bait the fence for maximum effect. Peanutbutter works too. The sound or 'sense' of the electricity only deters bears that already know about electric fences, and you don't know whether yours does.

    The big thing is to use reasonably robust wires (so they don't break accidentally if the bear bumps into them) and keep them VERY HOT, like 5,000-7,000 volts -- and check it frequently, with a good (DIGITAL! not five-neon-lights) fence tester to make sure it is still running at that voltage.

    Having the fence further from the coop (e.g. around the whole yard) is usually better than right up against the coop. The further the predators can be kept from the coop, the less effort and discomfort they'll want to invest in getting in there.

    Good luck, have fun,

  3. brookfieldreds

    brookfieldreds Hatching

    Oct 26, 2009
    Thanks for the reply. I will contact a beekeeper friend for suggestions.
  4. columbiacritter

    columbiacritter Songster

    Jun 7, 2008
    Scappoose Oregon
    If you don't bait it so the bear touches it with it's face it will most likely just go right through it. Fur does not conduct all that well and they can easily charge through the hottest fence if they havne't been made aware it can really hurt. Remember, they will destroy a beehive with thousands of bees stinging them so they can take alot of pain.

    Never, ever test an electric fence or any metal object within 10 ft of one with your bare hand!

    Also remember that no matter how tall you are your crotch is always low enough to touch the hot wire when you're trying to step over a hot fence. [​IMG]
  5. smilingcat

    smilingcat Songster

    Jun 1, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    caveated comment (for what its worth):

    I personally have not had to deal with bear attack, my guess is that if the bear were to attack your coop and protected with only single strand, there is a good possibility that the bear will break the wire and may attack the coop the second go around. In which case, he would have unfettered access to the coop and your birds.

    If it were me, I think I would use 12 gauge steel wire and run multiple wires. each wire should go back to your power source and not wrap a single line around the coop multiple times. If one wire breaks the other wires still have a complete connection back at the power source.
    Multiple wires just in case the bear does manage to break the wire and still wants to attack redundancy never hurts.

    just my 2 cents.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2010
  6. red roo

    red roo In the Brooder

    Jun 5, 2010
    being frome S.C lowcountry had no exp with bears untill i moved to up state N.Y . people up here told me to use barb wire so it gets to the skin , the hair will insulate them from shock but bears are smart & strong so you have got to put wire on the coop as well but im no expert i just know when in rome do as the romans do so

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