Talk to me about electric fences

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by backyardbouquet, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. backyardbouquet

    backyardbouquet Just Hatched

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    We have small predator problems (fox, opossum, raccoon) but we also have a bad feral/roaming dog problem and coyotes. One of my nearby neighbors has fighting pits, one of which is nursing pups and roaming the neighborhood all hours of the day and night. (We've called the sheriff on them several times for other reasons too.)

    I'd really like to have free range chickens, but my neighbor has lost 90% of his flock and so have my parents (they live 1/4 mile behind me). I have 8 acres with a small pond behind the house. The coop will be a lean-to on the shop with the run attached. If I had my way I'd put a 3-strand around the two acres immediately behind the house and get a mini donkey. :D

    Dad uses a solar powered 3-strand around his pea patch to keep the deer out, and I'm considering a similar setup for the coop and run we are building. I've already priced a solar power supply that will run a 2 acre enclosure and can get all the other fencing stuff locally (wire, posts, insulators).

    The big question is: How many strands? If I'm keeping out small predators, obviously one around the bottom of the coop, and a wire close to the ground around the run. I'm thinking another wire a foot up to keep the &^%$#@! dogs out, but I guess I need an actual fence to keep the chickens IN.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2017
  2. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is what I use to surround the perimeter. It is keeping dogs and varmints out and the birds in. Consists of 4 wires.......17 gauge aluminum wire. Bottom wire about 5 inches off the deck. Others stacked on top at 5 inch or so intervals. Steel posts on the corners. Step in poly posts for the longer runs. Spacing is actually set by the clips on the step in posts.

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    Varmints see this and think they can either go under it or through it and get zapped in the process. There are not many repeat customers. As such, it is a psychological barrier only. Flipping the fencer on is like Capt. Kirk calling for "shields up"!


    Closer in you could use the same fencer to charge a small area of poultry netting, which not much is going to get past unless they jump over it. Same issue though.......once zapped, varmints tend to go elsewhere. Poultry netting is a physical barrier as well as the psychological one.

    The issue I'm finding with poultry netting is keeping the ground beneath it clean and bare so as to not short it out. If you don't mind Roundup, that would work.

    There is enough room under the wires that I can run a weed eater under it to keep the grass and weeds down.
     
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  3. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    Are you my neighbor? It sounds so dang familiar. Here's the thing, I can't free range safely. I do let them range, though, selectively. I let them out only while I'm home and usually while I'm doing outdoor chores. I bell trained them so I could get them back in whenever I needed to do so.
    I have kept them in for weeks while the hawks were migrating through because I had a northern Goshawk absolutely bent on taking one. I caught the thing perched on the coop roof (!) and it was visiting and hanging around daily trying to figure a way in.

    Do my precautions prevent losses? No. There's always the chance a fox will come into the open yard after a chicken right in front of the loudly playing kids. I've seen it happen, hunger makes them bolder. But if you do the math here, the hawks are well ahead of the canines for attacks while the canines are well ahead of the hawks for kills.

    FWIW, my coop has a covered run made from kennel panels. It has a dig barrier apron and then is reinforced with lighter, small hole wire on the inside to keep out the smaller stuff (like opossum). I've never had a predator breech the fortress (knock on wood). So, I could keep them in and not have losses. But they really do have a strong desire to forage and I'd feel badly about never letting them. You really just have to decide how much loss you're comfortable with in exchange for them being free to roam.
     
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  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I agree it sounds like electricity is your answer. Exactly how you do it and how much you fence in is up to you but I’ll throw in a few observations. You probably know most of this already. I have electric netting, not strands just so you know my experience, but if I were doing it again, I’d probably go with a permanent fence.

    Baby chicks can walk right through my electric netting until they are around 7 to 8 weeks old. Their down and feathers insulate them. If the older chickens touch a hot wire while grounded with their comb or wattles they get zapped, but otherwise they can walk through any opening big enough. So yes, you need a physical chicken barrier to keep the chickens in.

    For electricity to work you need a hot wire insulated/isolated from a ground so it stays hot. The critter has to touch the hot wire and the ground at the same time to get zapped. With my netting that ground is the ground. If you use strands insulated from a wire mesh chicken barrier fence, it can be that fence as well as the ground.

    Weeds and grass can grow up into the hot wires or netting and short them out when they are wet. Wind or a flood can carry trash like cut grass or dried leaves against my electric netting where it piles up. When it is wet it shorts it out. I use Round-up to stop the weeds and grass from shorting out my netting, but I still have to clean out trash with a wind or heavy rain. Weed-eaters will destroy electric netting.

    Snow can wreck the efficiency of electricity. A wet snow may short the fence out. A dry snow may insulate the critter from the ground so it doesn’t get shocked. As Howard mentioned when a critter gets zapped it generally doesn’t test that fence again, though maybe some will try once more. So the fence just being in place is a deterrent to experienced animals, but new critters are being born all the time and people get new dogs or more likely out here, abandon them. Even with the electricity turned off or shorted out, that fence still provides quite a bit of protection but you can be vulnerable.

    You need to figure out your gates. Those can be weak points if you are not careful but you will need to get in there to mow and probably do other things.

    You need a hot wire close enough to the ground so digging predators will hit that if they try to push under the fence. They won’t dig if they can just walk under the fence. You need something high enough so any climbing predator will get zapped if it tries to climb. A lot of critters can jump over a fence, but they tend not to, at least to start. They normally inspect the fence before they jump it, usually with a nose or tongue. When they do that they get zapped. Jumping that fence is the last thing on their mind.

    That’s all I can think of. To me the big issue is to keep the weeds and grass from shorting it out, but if you set electricity up correctly it is very effective.
     
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  5. harveyhorses

    harveyhorses Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have been pleasantly surprised by the Poultry netting, but it is a bit pricey. It sent a wandering beagle/hound running for home and made my neighbors cat do a backflip, it is also highly visible. My two BOs are not big flyers so the 48" height was fine. They have a really large area to wander and I can move it fairly easily. i am able to use the sheds that were already there as one side of it.
    Now I have babies coming along and I am worried they will go over.
    My last set up was a 12 x 24 8ft high, dog run, covered with electric wire around the top and bottom. they were probably safer but they are so much happier now.
    I would go 4 or 5 strands to discourage jumping dogs.
     
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  6. backyardbouquet

    backyardbouquet Just Hatched

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    North Mississippi
    I'm liking the looks of poultry netting, especially for the area I'm planning to enclose for the run. The coop will likely be entirely within the run on the back of the shop, so I can enclose the whole shebang. The coop itself will be very secure, because most of the predator problems we have are at night. However, the red fox in the neighborhood has been seen during the day. Pretty sure she has pups in the bottom across from my parents' house. I hear her calling around dusk, most evenings.

    I REALLY don't like shooting animals I'm not going to eat or utilize unless they are ill, dangerous, or badly injured, so I'm hoping a hot fence and Fort Knox will deter them.
     
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  7. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    An interesting footnote on the fox situation. My neighbor tells me we (actually they.........as the den is under their shed) have a fox. The shed it lives under is roughly 100 yards behind where the pictures of the electric fence above were taken. Neighbor says they see it all the time........I never have. You might think with 9 birds hopping around and such it would be hanging around. It doesn't.

    That electric fence is the only thing I know of stopping it.
     
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  8. backyardbouquet

    backyardbouquet Just Hatched

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    Apr 20, 2017
    North Mississippi
    They will probably be free to roam when I'm actually on the property/outdoors, but they will need to be in their run during the day when we are all gone. With the dog, fox, and coyote situation I wouldn't feel comfortable letting them free range all day.

    I've made a habit of having a gun nearby when I'm outside, because my dad was rushed by two large roaming dogs a couple of years ago, and would have been seriously injured or killed if he hadn't had his pistol. Add the animal predator in with the human predator situation and the rash of burglaries we've had and it's hard to feel safe in my own yard without a weapon of some sort. We are also close to the road, so it's easy to get on and off our property. (Everyone knows who the burglary culprit is for the most part, but he's a CI, so he runs free when he's not in jail and breaks into houses.)
     
  9. Richard Pryor

    Richard Pryor Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Howard E: are the 4 electric wires the only thing between your chickens and the predators?
     
  10. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In that area, yes. The coop itself is located on an elevated site near water and electric, but also inside a lawn area surrounded by a chain link fence. There is a gate that opens into the adjacent garden area surrounded only by the 4 wire electric fence.

    Ironically, I have seen cats, skunks, possums and coons go under the chain link fence so fast it might as well not be there. So it isn't the protection. Now and then I see evidence where something has tested the electric fence, but never see anything inside it. Was gone a few days last week and when I returned, I found the second wire loose with a bend in it. Bend towards the outside. So something hit it from the inside while it had some speed up. Probably touched it somewhere in the dark and in a panic, made a break for it and hit it again trying to get out.

    The thing is with these fences, all animals have to be trained to them, and they have to hit it to get their training. Some will push on in the first time, and then have to find their way out, so get may get zapped again on the way out. A couple jolts and they won't be back.
     

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