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Chicken fencing idea

 
Posts: 109
Location: Iron River MI
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So, my wife and I just ordered 6 female Buff Orpington chicks and this will be our first go with chickens. The plan is to build a mobile coop, get some portable fencing, and rotate them around our acre or so of yard. I’ve got materials and plans for the coop and am wondering about fencing now. I read Orpingtons don’t fly much, so I was thinking a 4’ tall fence may suffice. I like the idea of not spending $200 on portable electric fencing and I already have plenty of electric poly tape and a solar charger. My idea is to buy plastic snow fencing, since I can find 100’ for like $30, and weave a run or two of the poly tape through the bottom couple feet of the snow fence. I think this should work since plastic is non conducive. Then once a week or so, roll it all up and move it to a new section of yard. I’m sure we will need to keep grass and whatnot from growing tall and shorting out the fence. Also, my solar charger has one connection for the hot wire and one for ground. I’m hoping I can get away with a relatively short, easy to move ground rod. I don’t even know if the electric aspect of the fence is necessary since they will be cooped up at night. We have a young texas heeler that likes to chase small animals, but i think a non electrified fence would be enough to keep her out. Any thoughts or opinions as to how this might work?

Thank you!
-Brody
 
pollinator
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Not sure how the electric would work, but the fencing should be fine if you don't have predator pressure during the day.  I've got 5' horse fence that I like because I can run netting or line on top to deter eagles but I'd also like to rotate my birds, so I've got to sort that out too.  I do plan on an electric fence perimeter so I'm more worried about airborn attacks.  Eagles will happily take a chicken a day.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Location: Iron River MI
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Timothy Markus wrote:Not sure how the electric would work, but the fencing should be fine if you don't have predator pressure during the day.  I've got 5' horse fence that I like because I can run netting or line on top to deter eagles but I'd also like to rotate my birds, so I've got to sort that out too.  I do plan on an electric fence perimeter so I'm more worried about airborn attacks.  Eagles will happily take a chicken a day.



I’m not so much worried about predators on the ground (besides my dog) but we do have quite a few eagles near our house and I haven’t addressed that at all yet. I might build the coop high enough for the chickens to run underneath and maybe give it a bit of an overhang, but other than that, I’m really hoping they look up once in a while and can run fast! Some areas of the yard have trees and some cover for them, but the largest, most lush part of the yard has no cover at all...
 
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I use 4' snow fencing for part of my chicken enclosure,  it works great.
Since you are planing on moving them around, you don't have ground predator presure and there are only six of them,  I would suggest a simple chicken tractor.
If you build it of pipe or conduit with rough dimensions of  2' H x 4' W x 10' L , you can be very efficient in your use of materials.
Cover the top with snow fencing and close one end in with tarp on the tops and sides.
Put your nesting box, food and water at the other end.
You get protection from winged predators and shade plus it's much easier to move than a set of fencing and a separate coop.
Come winter time,  layer crappy blankets and tarps over the coop end of the tractor for insulation.


 
Brody Ekberg
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William Bronson wrote:I use 4' snow fencing for part of my chicken enclosure,  it works great.
Since you are planing on moving them around, you don't have ground predator presure and there are only six of them,  I would suggest a simple chicken tractor.
If you build it of pipe or conduit with rough dimensions of  2' H x 4' W x 10' L , you can be very efficient in your use of materials.
Cover the top with snow fencing and close one end in with tarp on the tops and sides.
Put your nesting box, food and water at the other end.
You get protection from winged predators and shade plus it's much easier to move than a set of fencing and a separate coop.
Come winter time,  layer crappy blankets and tarps over the coop end of the tractor for insulation.




My first plan was to do the chicken tractor method, but I just really don’t like the idea of them being in such a small area, even though they can be moved more conveniently. I think my plans for the portable coop will be pretty slick, I’m just not sure about the fencing. I’ll try to upload pictures of the coop once its done. How does the snow fencing hold up to the sun? I know a lot of people use it seasonally but I dont see it set up year round very often. Does it get brittle and break after a few years? Probably depends on several factors...
 
William Bronson
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I have used it in the sun  for years.
It never seems to get brittle or turn to shreds.
YMMV.
 
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I use chicken wire and step stakes that I made myself. I scrounged old 1 inch pvc pipe and either cut or joined to make 52 inch long pieces. I also used 6 inch long pieces of unistrut, 12 inch pieces of rebar, old 12 or 16D nails, scrap wire, and coat hanger wire. You can find pretty much all of this at any commercial construction site as waste.

Once I have all my parts, I start by drilling holes through the strut and pipe to bolt them together. Keep them together so you don't have to worry about matching up holes later.

Sharpen half of the rebar pieces. Working one post at a time, remove the strut from the pvc and weld the rebar and a nail on, then bolt the "stake" to the pvc pipe. I was able to scrounge hundreds of 1/4 inch trailer decking bolts for this.

Weld about the same number of rebar pieces in the shape of a cross as you have in posts to use for supporting corners and tying down any fencing between posts as needed.

Cut the coat hanger wire into about 6 inch pieces and bend into "S" hooks.

I use about 1 post for every 8-10 feet and about 300 feet of chicken wire. I made enough posts and stakes in 10-12 hours. The chicken wire is in about 75 foot pieces to make it easier to handle. I set up by pushing or driving the posts where I want them, then unrolling the chicken wire along the posts. I pull the wire tight and hook the bottom on the nail at the base of the post, then lift the wire and hang it on a hook in the top of the post. The whole thing goes up in just a couple of hours.

I move the coop and fence every 3-4 weeks to minimize disease, maximize forage, and sometimes put the chickens to work. I try to pay attention to setups like people talk about here too, like space under the coop, tree cover, and proximity to dogs. I also keep a goose in the pen with the chickens (raised with chickens). I've had no trouble so far from either air or ground.

I wanted to insert pictures inline with text to make the instructions more clear but didn't see how to do that. I also made a portable gate for this setup and intend to add photos here soon.

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I have used plastic snow fencing for many years.  I like having it on hand for emergency repairs.
 
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We have used electrified poultry net for 5 years now and there is no way i would mess around moving any other type of fencing for chickens. We have never had a predator attack while the birds are in the fencing. When we first started out we used chicken wire an whatnot and itwas just a pain an snow fencing was slightly better to setup but our snow fence was orange haha and i couldn't stand seeing the glowing orangefence in our field haha
I know the premier fence is expensive but its well worth it! I would say that you dont need to buy their energizer and could buy/build a better energizer but the whole package works well! I can move the birds whole setup in less than 20 min and thats not even rushing.
 
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Instead of chicken wire I recommend Tenax 7.5 deer fencing. Usually sells for $220/330ft. Big T-posts spaced ten feet apart do the trick for my chickens. If you have absolutely no predator or even dog pressure, you can get the cheaper 7' version. IT's about half the price, but the plastic is a lot cheaper quality. Easy to throw up, easy to take down. Very light and manageable.
 
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With our meat chicks who go out during the day into portable dog exercise pen fencing, to discourage aerial predators, I scrounge half dead beach umbrellas. I whack a sharpened piece of rebar into the ground and slide the umbrella pipe over the rebar.  I cut the umbrella pipe so it's easy to duck under, but not so high that the predators ignore it. If the area was fairly open, I'd cut the umbrella pipe shorter. Very quick and easy to move. If they start to rip, I try to scrounge material to patch them as well.

The chicks are in a portable shelter that moves every day, as does the pen because they poop so much and won't eat poopy grass (not that I blame them!)
 
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"Build it and they will come"... as in add poultry or livestock and the predators WILL find you, and avail themselves of your buffet. Unless you take pre-emptive measures to make the meal not worth the effort.

Although there may not currently be high predator pressure, I highly recommend always building for all known predators in your geographical area. Mink, otter, weasel; raccoon, dog, wolf, coyote; bobcat, lynx, cougar, bear; eagle falcon, owl, hawk... I would recommend you assume some or all of these will view your poultry as a meal - better to design for the future rather than redesign AFTER predation.  

Metal fencing can be electrified; an existing fence charger can significantly reduce the cost of purchasing electrified poultry mesh. Plastic is ugly, and will not keep out any ground predator - they will climb over tape woven through, but can be used to prevent overhead predation. Old windows, plexiglass, metal roofing are all potentially (depending on installation) climb proof if electrification is not an option. Remember though, electricity only works on foot pads and noses.

Yes, it will cost more initially, to "do it right", but the time, money and heartache saved later on, makes it more than worthwhile. Otherwise all you are doing is containing the poultry, and not safeguarding it from predation.

Caveat: I only hear from folks when predation has already taken place...perhaps most of the time other methods work, but the distress felt by the folks who call is palpable; often referencing the predator as a "murderer", and the desire to "punish" the predator is first and foremost.

I feel it is OUR responsibility to safeguard our poultry and livestock by eliminating predator access, as much as possible. Use of proper fencing (electric or no climb), guardian animals (dogs, geese, guinea's) etc., should be the norm, in my opinion, rather than view predators as "invaders" or "murderers" when they take advantage of unsecured poultry and/or livestock.
 
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:"Build it and they will come"... as in add poultry or livestock and the predators WILL find you...



This was my experience exactly. We didn’t think we’d have hawk problems, but now that we have chickens in fairly certain a hawk built a nest in our small woods. Even though we have bird netting for protection, they still circle around almost daily.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:"Build it and they will come"... as in add poultry or livestock and the predators WILL find you, and avail themselves of your buffet. Unless you take pre-emptive measures to make the meal not worth the effort.

Although there may not currently be high predator pressure, I highly recommend always building for all known predators in your geographical area. Mink, otter, weasel; raccoon, dog, wolf, coyote; bobcat, lynx, cougar, bear; eagle falcon, owl, hawk... I would recommend you assume some or all of these will view your poultry as a meal - better to design for the future rather than redesign AFTER predation.  

Metal fencing can be electrified; an existing fence charger can significantly reduce the cost of purchasing electrified poultry mesh. Plastic is ugly, and will not keep out any ground predator - they will climb over tape woven through, but can be used to prevent overhead predation. Old windows, plexiglass, metal roofing are all potentially (depending on installation) climb proof if electrification is not an option. Remember though, electricity only works on foot pads and noses.

Yes, it will cost more initially, to "do it right", but the time, money and heartache saved later on, makes it more than worthwhile. Otherwise all you are doing is containing the poultry, and not safeguarding it from predation.

Caveat: I only hear from folks when predation has already taken place...perhaps most of the time other methods work, but the distress felt by the folks who call is palpable; often referencing the predator as a "murderer", and the desire to "punish" the predator is first and foremost.

I feel it is OUR responsibility to safeguard our poultry and livestock by eliminating predator access, as much as possible. Use of proper fencing (electric or no climb), guardian animals (dogs, geese, guinea's) etc., should be the norm, in my opinion, rather than view predators as "invaders" or "murderers" when they take advantage of unsecured poultry and/or livestock.



So far, I’ve been using 4’ tall plastic snow fencing and it’s been alright. They haven’t jumped the fence yet and it keeps my dog away from them. Definitely wouldn’t stop any predators, but that wasn’t my intention with the fence anyway. I move it every couple weeks or so in the summer to give them a fresh “run”. Now that the winter has set in, its in one spot until the ground thaws in spring. So far, no predator issues besides 2 ermine that were hanging around. I live trapped one and relocated and never saw the second one again.

I may try free ranging in the spring if we are comfortable with our dog having access to them. But they like to ruin garden beds, so the free ranging might just not be worth it to me.
 
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