small-scale (solar?) electric fence for city backyard tractor?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by dftkarin, Jul 30, 2008.

  1. dftkarin

    dftkarin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 27, 2008
    I know nothing about hot-wiring fences or electric fences but I live in a condo in a city with 3 pet chickens and someone on this board suggested I could protect them from predators by stringing three lines of electric wire around my tractor, and have it hooked up to an energizer that could be powered with D batteries. So I looked at Flemingoutdoor and they do indeed sell energizers that run by D batteries and cost less than $50, but there is no description to see how they actually work or what else I would need to buy and do. I have a child myself, a dog, neighbors with toddlers, and probably skunks and racoons and other predators who might try to eat my chickens. Is there anywhere online I can read about how setting up an electric fence works? I have looked at whole kits (flexinet, poultynet, others - with movable stakes and a flexible netting attached - but those kits are several hundred dollars and cover a lot more space than I would have need for). I've been pricing hardware cloth and maybe using an electric fence would be cheaper than buying hardware cloth!
  2. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    Really good idea. Solar may have a weak shock. They have kits on horse supply sites. I am probably going to do it as well. I think it's the best way to go.
  3. raizin

    raizin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Eastern Oregon
    My Coop
    I did a google search using "electric fencing installation pictures" this had a lot of hits. you can also ask at the feed store. good luck.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:I would be leery of substituting electricity for a structurally-predator-resistant run and coop (hardwarecloth, etc). Two reasons -- 1, you never know when your electricity might fail (even if it's batteries, there are any number of ways the fence can go dead), and 2, electric fencing is only a psychological deterrant, and if your charge is not MUCH higher than seems safe or sensible in a backyard situation, some predators (especially lightweight ones standing on dry ground) may decide it's worth the annoying zap to get a chicken dinner.

    That said, if you do decide to put electric on:

    The sum total of what you will need is:
    the charger (battery or plugin - solar would be a BAD waste of
    money, for your situation)
    the wire you will run on the coop (use steel or aluminum fence
    wire from the farm store, like 17 to 14 gauge)
    plastic electric-fence insulators that nail or screw onto the wooden
    frame of your coop and run - you want the 4" standoff ones,
    not the shorter ones, to minimize inductive current loss and
    accidental electrification of run fence
    a wire to connect charger to fence and to ground rods (you can
    use your nekkid fence wire if the charger is right at the fence;
    if there is a distance to be covered, buy some double-insulatd
    ELECTRIC FENCE wire (rated to 25,000 volts).
    a ground rod (for a tiny fence like this, just use a 3' piece of rebar)
    a clamp to secure the wire to the ground rod.

    Depending on local prices and how small quantities your farm store sells these things in (it varies), you are probably looking at like $40-50 PLUS the cost of the charger, which should be $50-75.

    Premier fencing ( has excellent detailed directions for setting up and troubleshooting electric fences (you are probably the first person to whom I *haven't* recommended them as a source to buy from, too, but your needs can probably better be served by your local farm store or if you need to order a charger then one of the online sources like Jeffers, etc).

    Two or three lines of (properly installed, properly functioning) electric wire (actual metal wire, not twine or tape or rope) is all you need - the electronet type things will require a larger charger and because none of 'em are really a substitute for proper construction, seems to me they'd be pointless overkill in terms of expense and nuisance value.

    Couple points to consider.

    If your ground rod is within 30 ft or so of any buried phone lines, there is a good chance you will have problems with the fence charger creating rhythmic staticky interference on all phones served by the line. Put the ground rod as far away as possible, and bear it in mind if you experience any problems.

    Normally there are other considerations about things to avoid putting the fence or ground rod near (buried metal water pipes; overhead powerlines; utility-pole ground rods) but I am not sure how much they pertain to a backyard [​IMG] Stay away from utility pole ground rods, at least.

    Get help from the charger manufacturer or someone like that in selecting an appropriate size (power) charger. TOTALLY IGNORE anything about 'charges x miles of fence' - it's untrue in real-world conditions, and irrelevant. Don't believe farm store employees or general online-catalog phone answerers either, as neither generally knows thing one about electric fencing.

    Be aware that to keep dogs and raccoons off your coop you will need a higher charge on the fence than some more typical uses e.g. confining horses.... IIRC a voltage of 3500-5000 v is recommended for predators such as those. But you really DO NOT want to buy an oversized (too powerful) charger, as it can be dangerous, especially on a very very short fence like this one will be. Electric fences are basically safe but not absolutely 100.0% harmless, and when the wires are installed low to the ground like yours will have to be, that is an additional risk factor already - don't add an insanely overpowered charger to the mix.

    Hope this helps some,

  5. A Carolina Chick

    A Carolina Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 16, 2008
    Quote:I agree. It would be a shame to have "electrifried" chicken or dog for that matter.

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