Run Versus Electric Poultry Fence

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by karearmcd, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. karearmcd

    karearmcd New Egg

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    I was wondering if I could surround my coop area with electric poultry fencing versus building a run attached to the coop. Both would cost around $300 and I'm trying to save money since I just invested in the coop. I'm also wondering how necessary the run would be if I have the fence. We have hawks and fox. The location I've chosen, I'm not too worried about Hawks but definitely fox and anything on the ground. If I did the run, I would do the hardware cloth at 90 degree angle so nothing would dig under but wouldn't bother with the fence since it is flexible (premiere). I guess I'm just worried about probability of any critters real using they can dig under it or would the shock be enough of a deterrent? Also, with the fence they would have more room to wander. I feel like the run would be cramped. Thoughts?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Some people have serious trouble with birds of prey like hawks and owls and some don’t. You can come up with all kinds of rational as to why that is but the simple reality is that some people have trouble with them and some don’t, even if they see hawks and owls a lot. I can’t tell you how much risk there is for you from birds of prey. I’ve had Premier’s 48” electric netting for about 4 years. The only chicken I’ve lot to a predator inside that netting was to an owl when I was late locking them up one night. The owl went into the coop and got a chicken. I see large hawks all the time, mostly red tailed hawks and I sometimes hear or see an owl when I’m out a little after dark.

    I have not lost a chicken to a land-based predator in that time. Since the first of this year I’ve removed 3 raccoons, 7 skunks, and 10 possum from outside the immediate chicken area. I occasionally see a fox, though they are hard to spot. Many nights I hear three different groups of coyotes, one to the northeast, one to the southeast, and one to the southwest. Occasionally I’ll see a coyote in the pasture across from the house in the middle of the day. I have plenty of potential predators here. People abandon dogs out here a few times a year, it’s a private place so they can do that unseen. That’s the main reason I got the netting, abandoned dogs hit my flock hard. The rest of the critters didn’t bother them that much when I free ranged. I lost two chickens in a three year period before the dog attacks started. In my opinion, the netting is really effective.

    There are downsides to the netting. If the power goes out, it’s not going to stop much. The electricity part does not work in snow. Once a critter is bitten once or twice it tends to not challenge that netting again so it still acts as a pretty good deterrent. But critters are being born, raised, and weaned all the time, they have not been bitten when they go out searching for their hunting territory. People may abandon dogs that haven’t been bitten at any time. Electric netting is not 100% fool-proof but it really does work well.

    My chicks can walk right through the electric netting until they are maybe 7 weeks old. If you have bantams that age could be later. If you are raising baby chicks that might be something to consider. Chicken’s down or feathers insulate them, much as a critter’s fur insulates it. If a chicken touches a hot wire with its comb or wattles, it gets shocked, jumps back, and resumes normal behavior in a second or two. They do learn to stay away from it, but it may take getting shocked more than once. But chicks can walk right through without being shocked.

    In theory some critters like coyotes can jump over the netting or many can dig under it, but life doesn’t work that way. Practically any critter is going to check out than netting with its nose, tongue, or paws first. It gets shocked and leaves.

    Chickens can easily fly over the 48” high netting if they want to. Most full-sized fowl have no trouble flying up higher than that to a roost so they can easily fly that high. The only time I have a problem with that is when two chickens (like adolescent cockerels) get in a conflict and one is trapped again the netting. If it is losing, it may go vertical to escape. Sometimes it comes down on the wrong side of the netting. No, it does not know enough to fly back in. That used to happen a lot more than it does now. I’ve learned that if I avoid sharp corners and avoid narrow sections, very few get trapped and fly out. Don’t install it with a narrow passage to get to a bigger area. Flatten out the corners a bit. It’s just not much of a problem now.

    The biggest maintenance issue with netting is that weeds and grass growing up into it will short it out, especially when they are wet. Depending on the season and your climate that can be as often as once a week or you may be able to go a lot longer, maybe months. Some people move the netting to a new area on a regular basis, so that‘s not a big deal, it’s built into their management plan. If you plan on leaving it in one place though that becomes a management problem. Weed eaters will destroy the netting. I used to take it down, mow, and put it back up on a regular basis as I leave mine in the same spot, but now I spray Roundup along the netting to keep the weeds and grass down. I still have to take it down and mow a couple of times a year, but that’s better than weekly a certain times.

    Another potential problem is wind can blow or a heavy rain can wash leaves or other debris to the netting where it piles up. After a storm I sometimes have to remove leaves or grass build-up to eliminate the short.

    I have an area about 45’ x 90’ inside my netting. At rare times I may be down to a flock of 8 adult chickens but right now I have 46 chickens. Most of those are young chicks (1 week to 15 weeks) waiting for them to reach butcher size. After I get growth in the spring that area pretty much stays green all summer. There are a few dust bathing areas that are bare. In the winter when stuff doesn’t grow it gets really bare, even with just a few chickens. Your climate and number of chickens will determine how green it stays. Chickens don’t eat everything green when they have enough area to have a choice. They eat certain things and just let other things grow. I have to get in there three or four times a year to cut the weeds down so they stuff they like can grow. Otherwise the bad stuff shades it out. I need to cut mine pretty badly right now but the mower is in the shop. Life happens.

    Some people may only tell you about how well netting works. It does work very well, but I’ve tried to give you both sides of the story. I’m very glad I have mine but don’t expect to just put it up and forget about it. There is still maintenance involved.

    I also have a run, 12’ x 32’, that is pretty predator resistant. I find that gives me a lot more flexibility in managing them. There are times I don’t want them in the netting area. An example, when I’m mowing the netting area. There are others. That run is bare, nothing grows in it. If they are in the run I need to provide everything they eat. Many people have a run only and are quite happy with them. But a run only doesn’t suite my goals or the way I want to manage them. If birds of prey were a problem here I might think differently.

    People dropping dogs off in the country won’t allow me to truly free range like I want to so I use the netting to come as close as I can. I don’t know your set-up, number of chickens, goals, or how you want to manage them. I don’t know what the right answer is for you.
     
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  3. karearmcd

    karearmcd New Egg

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    May 13, 2016
    Wow! Thank you for taking the time to write all that out. I really appreciate it. I think I will start with the fence and then work my way to building a run if needed. Right now I have 7 chickens (none laying age yet) and I think of them as our pets so I really don't want to lose any to predators. We are also off a main road but do live in PA so I have to think about domestic dogs (rarely a problem but still a possibility).
     
  4. karearmcd

    karearmcd New Egg

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    May 13, 2016
    [​IMG]

    Right now my only pests are the crows. :/
     
  5. argonne

    argonne Out Of The Brooder

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    I am doing both. The girls will be in their covered run when I'm not there. When I'm there, they will be out in their 48" poultry net (from Premier1). All of this is inside our fenced in yard (3 rail wood fence with galvanized wire backing) We have a high predator load (fox, bobcat, bears, coyotes, mountain lion) so I am not comfortable with leaving them in their electric fence when no one's around. Just the other day, we had a yearling bear on our deck!! He came via the non-dog side of our deck (it wraps around the house), but it was enough for me to order the electric netting.
     
  6. karearmcd

    karearmcd New Egg

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    May 13, 2016
    Would you guys recommend getting the gate door? Extra $50 ish. I will do a cut off switch so I can get in and out and turn off when kids are near so I'm wondering how necessary the gate is.
     
  7. MassChick

    MassChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is great info. I too am thinking this route with the electric netting. Are there any other companies besides Premier? They seem expensive.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas

    You need a way to get in and out. You’ll be feeding, watering, and gathering eggs regularly. How do you plan to do that? How convenient will that be? What is it worth to you to have a convenient way to do that?
     

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