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How do electric fences work with chickens? And a breed question.

 
Emily Smith
Posts: 64
Location: West Central Georgia
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I was discussing fencing with my dad today, and he brought up a good point: electric fences won't shock a chicken trying to perch on one.  So can y'all help me understand how the chickens stay in the fence?  Do they rub up against the fence whilst foraging and then learn to stay away, or what?  I understand a huge bonus for this fencing is keeping all land predators out, but I also really need to keep chickens in.

Another thought that crossed my mind is whether breed plays a big role in how determined a bird is to escape.  Maybe that should be looked into first?  I have New Hampshire Reds, Barred Rocks, and a Buff Orpington.
The Reds are the escape artists, the better foragers, and generally the leaders.  I think they'd be great on an acre or two of land for full free range.  I don't have that.  The Rocks are a bit lower key in both regards.  They are happy to scratch and peck, but don't seen too adventurous.  Are these breed characteristics or just the lot I got?
 
Randy Hunt
Posts: 1
bee hunting rabbit
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I have a friend that keeps the chickens out of his wife's flowers, he uses the woven  tape instead of the wire for his purpose  he places the tape at about 18". Also does a good job on the dogs and cat.  I'm thinking the tape would work good as chickens love to perch on fences, perching on the tape would be like a logger trying to stand on a log in a lake. Maybe you don't even need to energize it. Maybe place the tape a few inches higher and about 6" inside of the fence, a few upside-downers might deter them from trying again. We have had the invisible fence for our dogs off fo months but they stir stay in the boundry.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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There is definitely a breed element to escape tendencies. Larger, heavier breeds like Orpingtons are stay at home types, not inclined to try flying over fences.  Americaunas are much more adventurous. According to Salatin, part of how the poultrynet electric fencing works is that the variegated net keeps them from being able to judge the fence well, and so they don't try to fly over it.
 
Bonnie Johnson
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Most people who use electric fence to keep chickens out of a garden or in the place you want the chickens to be instead of the garden or perching on your deck use the electro net fencing. The holes in the electro net are small enough that a mature chicken can't fit through them without getting a good shock and the holes are small enough that the chicken wouldn't probably fit through the holes anyhow.  I have watched my chickens get shocked on electrified tape but it is a hit and miss thing and they don't try to perch on the tape. I have electrified tape around my pigs and I used to use it around my goats for rotational grazing.  The tape works great for pigs and only works for large sedate dairy goats not for normal I can jump over or through anything goats.  The electro net sometimes can be purchased so that it has on row of positive and one row of negative(grounded) twine alternating through it. Then it works better as the chicken or goat doesn't have to ground it self to the actual ground. Chickens are well insulated by their feathers so the only times I have seen them shocked by electrified tape is when it is really wet out and they are kind of soggy on their feathers and then they have to hit the tape just right. Most often they get shocked if they hit their comb on the tape.  The electro net I used for my goats had holes/spacing in it that was large enough to allow chickens to fit through. If you get poultry electro net, then it will have the small holes and be tall enough to keep most birds from flying over it.
Most as in birds that have less of a tendency to fly over 4 feet high. Forget the banties or those near feral chickens. I had a Black Sumatra that nested in my garden and she flew over the four foot tall wire fence to go eat and drink once a day and then she would fly back into my garden. 

So as to breed question, some breed will be much more likely to fly over your fence.  I re fenced my garden this year to stop chickens from getting in there most especially when the tomatoes are ripe. I went with 6 foot tall welded wire and it is working quite
nicely. Even my feral type crossbred chickens, yes off of that Black Sumatra hen don't fly into my garden now.  The wild bunch roosts outside and fends for themselves. Had one of them hatch 16 chicks on their own out in the weeds, but at least she
didn't raise them in my garden and feed them on my tomatoes. LOL  My black Australorps don't seem to want to fly into a garden and neither do my Light Brahams. I probably could have kept them out with a 3 foot tall fence. So yes, it depends on the breed and you may need to clip wings for a while so they think that they can't fly into your garden.  Good luck!
 
Emily Smith
Posts: 64
Location: West Central Georgia
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Thanks for the replies!

6' fencing is what my dad suggested.  But having both positive and negative lines in the netting means a bird trying to perch on the top will still be shocked?  I didn't think of the variegated aspect; that's good to know.  I want them in the garden in the off season and mowing my yard March through October.  I will eventually have grown up fruit trees I'll want them hanging around for a month or so, as well.  I have no clue how any of that will go, but that's the idea!  I have been looking at electro net, it's just really hard to spend that much money if I'm not 98% sure it will work on both sides of the fence.
 
Bonnie Johnson
Posts: 27
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A bird that perched on top of the electro net would not be shocked unless the fence drooped enough that the bird also came in contact with the negative twine.  This is highly possible as the electro net fencing isn't really able to be pulled
tight in my experience. I don't know how a chicken could perch on the electro net successfully.  Electro net has its uses. But keep in mind that you have to keep the grass and weeds off of it so that it will shock really well and you have to invest
in a good fence charger and you have to have a really good ground. IF the  earth is dry, you won't be able to get a good ground unless you wet that area.  When using my electro net for my goats, I had a 5 gallon water jug that had a small hole in it
and when it was dry out, I would fill the jug and let it dribble on the ground rod so that the fence would have a good ground and produce a good shock.  I cant remember if Premier sells the positive and negative electro net but they do sell some of the
perma net which is stronger and has tougher poles. Kencove.com sells the positive negative electro net and it is usually a little better price than premier.  

good luck no matter which type of fence you buy.

 
Wes Hunter
Posts: 201
Location: Seymour, MO
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I've never seen a chicken try to perch on electronet or any kind of wire fencing--there just isn't enough purchase for them to grasp, and they don't recognize it as something that will support them anyway.

Typically, electric fencing is used to keep predators away from the chickens, not to keep chickens contained.  If you just need to keep the birds contained, there's no need to electrify the electronet.  But then, there's no sense paying for electronet when chicken wire and some cheap posts will do the same thing for much less money.

There is certainly a difference from breed to breed in regards to temperament, but you'll also find a difference between individual birds.  You may well have, for example, an Orpington that's flightier than a typical Leghorn, so you can't necessarily bank on breed differences, especially with a small flock.
 
Emily Smith
Posts: 64
Location: West Central Georgia
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Well I clipped 5 wings this week; now all 8 birds stay in the garden.  I hate to do that, though.  For future garden spots, posts and chicken wire might be fine now, but I don't think I'd want to do rotating "paddocks" with chicken wire.  Perhaps for that I could get just pos/neg netting and worry about energizers when we're (hopefully) further away from civilization.  I'm doing this in a neighborhood (no covenants) in a 2/3 acre backyard. 
 
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