i have two siberian huskies that like chicken. i also have poultry. we just moved last year and are rebuilding the homestead, got new chicks and ducklings.
at my last place i used cedar posts and chicken wire for the chicken run, but it was too easy for my little husky to bust through and had to be reinforced several times. the posts also rotted in the ground, and needed to be dug out and re-done. i'm looking for better fencing ideas. what are your opinions on electric netting, such as this set up?
i live in portland, or, so there's some concern about not having enough sunlight to charge the fence.
my other idea was to drive t-stakes into the ground and tie welded wire fencing to that, with a skirt of welded wire fencing on the ground to prevent digging under. and gates! that the confusing part, how would i make a gate in either of those set ups so i can get to the coop for maintenance, collecting eggs, feeding and watering, etc?
Having had Sibes for 40 years, I can fully appreciate your problem. I've had mine chew or tear through welded wire and standard kennel chain link to get to livestock. They can be quite determined and clever. The only chainlink types that thwarted them were a heavy gauge and 1" spacing. There was a company called Bob Long Fencing that made great (but expensive) kennel pens that my dogs couldn't escape from. Much heavier fencing material than found in the stores.
For my livestock pens I found that the easiest, cheapest, and most effective fence was a heavy woven wire protected by a strand of electric fencing at the bottom, top, and at husky chest height. Once the dogs were trained about the hotwire, I never had one mess with it. (But they would listen daily to see if the hotwire was actually turned on.) They need to be properly introduced to the fencing so that they understand that it's the wire that is biting them. Under no circumstances do you want to let them accidentally get tangled in or pull the wire down during the training period because once they discover that they can ground out the wire, they will repeat the trick again and again.
I love huskies, but they are indeed a challenging breed to own.
If it's only a small pen that you need protected, you might consider surrounding it with cattle panels. But you'd need to make it two panels high since a husky would simply climb or jump a four foot fence. The top panel would need to be slanted outward to thwart climbing.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Su Ba wrote: (But they would listen daily to see if the hotwire was actually turned on.)
of course they did, the smart little jerks! my older siberian has learned to respect fencing and won't try to break in, but if a bird got flighty and ended up on the wrong side of the fence, well that's like having food hop in your plate! my younger one does not respect the fence, which is why i am leaning toward something electric. neither of them have ever tried to jump over or climb fences, which makes me a lucky husky mom.
A funny story (if you're a dog lover)...... A story entitled "The Clever Little Husky".
My kennel pens, for housing the dogs when I was not at home, were roofed over Bob Long kennels. Thus the dogs could not escape. But that didn't make my free ranging chickens totally safe. You see, one of the huskies discovered that she could save some of her dogfood to use as chicken bait for later in the day. I'd come home to find little mouthful piles of dogfood along the inside of the dog's pen. Plus one head/neckless chicken body outside the pen. The little sly husky would lay her bait down then wait for a chicken to get the courage to poke it's head through and try to eat the dogfood. I don't know how many times the husky missed its mark, but about once a week it would successfully grab a chicken. The dog always ate whatever it managed to pull through the fence. And we got to eat chicken soup using the remainder.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Make the fence from stock panels, then put chicken wire over that. I've had to do this to contain dogs who discovered how to unweave chainlink, but didn't bother if the stock panel was going to thwart them anyway. The kind with 4x4 inch holes is stiff and not too heavy for one person to chuck around, but dogs can't get through it.
For on the ground, use scrap chainlink fence, lengthwise along the fence. Nothing else works anywhere near as well, and being galvanized it holds up better under constant exposure to water, pee, and chicken manure (which is corrosive). Chicken wire all but begs the dog to dig it up; it's great fun to rip it apart. 4x4 stock panels can work (large-hole panels can be dug and squeezed through by a medium to small dog) but chainlink has the huge advantage that it's flexible enough to use on irregular ground.
It's not that dogs want to dig under stuff; it's that they have an instinct to dig dens next to stuff, then accidentally discover that they can dig under a fence.
[In Real LifeTM I'm a pro dog trainer and kennel owner with closing on 50 years experience.]
We used to live a little south of Portland. We had a Boxer and a Dachshund. The Boxers were my beloved breed and the Doxy's were my husband's favorite. They killed more of our hens than any predator. I loved them and was mad at them so often. sigh.
I've been listening to Paul's podcasts from the beginning. In one of the early podcasts he mentions a farm in the NW where they were trying to breed a NW Farm Dog... it had the hunting instincts of a terrier and the protective instincts of livestock guardian dog (if I recall correctly). When I heard the podcast, I thought... that dog already exists. It's the Farm Collie or "English Shepherd": http://puppies.petcarebooks.com This was the old farm dog across America before small farms disappeared.
So, when the Boxer and the Doxy each passed, we replaced them with English Shepherds. They are very good around poultry. Obviously, this doesn't solve your problem now, but I'm learning to think outside the box as I get older.
We keep a flock of Buff Orphingtons here in Michigan with a fencing system much like the one in your link. We have a lot of cloudy and rainy days here as well. We use a similar solar charger to the one pictured. It works great to keep predators at bay. The first few weeks that we had it set up I was awakened multiple times to very uncomfortable sounds coming from the direction of the chicken yard. During the winter and early spring we keep the flock stationary over the garden plot and hook the fence to an energizer that is plugged in and not solar. I can tell you that the fence stops my German shepherd, silly dog wanted to come play with the chickens and stuck his nose on it 4 times. Then he decided the chickens were his and tried to mark his territory, now he wont come within 3 feet of the thing. From personal experience, bare feet wet hands and holding a mettle chicken water, this fence with the right energizer and proper maintenance can really pack a punch. As to maintenance, the path that the fence takes needs to be mowed regularly or the fence gets shorted out. We typically just scythe a new perimeter every time we move the girls to new pasture. As far as access I'm 5'10" so I just step over it. In rubber boots and jeans I usually don't get "bit" and if I do it isn't very hard.
Hope that that our experience helps,
I'm agreeing with stock panels with chicken wire. This is what we have to keep our two malamutes from getting to the chickens.
We used to have a few ducks that wandered our garden and only used a 3' high fence, but the dogs knew they were not allowed to jump in. Ducks lived a good year before we babysat a litter mate from a friend and didn't remember to tell him the rules too.
Electric is certainly the most flexible long term, once you get them trained. We use a woven wire fence with stand-offs to keep the dogs, pigs, whatever, to keep from panicking and charging ahead when they catch a wire and get stung. Some breeds might be more prone to getting caught behind the eyes and get confused about which way to run, so the wire fence behind the electric helps keep that from happening.
We also sometimes just use bigger batteries and swap them out every couple of days in winter when sunshine goes away for days.
Lastly making gates is pretty easy if you create a square box of electric wires on step-in posts just inside a physical gate that's big enough to allow the gate full in-swing. That way the critters don't crowd the physical gate while you're trying to come and go, a sort of gate within a gate, or foyer if you will that works as a back-up if somebody manges to get past.
Our most adventurous layers are free ranging Rhode Island Reds, and when and where we need to keep them contained or out of something we've found that they will happily flutter up onto a four foot wire fence, but at five foot they tend to loose almost all interest, and when a hotwire is added just above that we've never had one go past. We also use one or two hotwires on the outside of our permanent perimeter woven wire fences for predator control, but the laying of re-purposed chain-link flat on the ground along the outside works as an excellent dig defeater. Coyotes get spooked walking on it and nobody else seems interested in trying to tunnel that far (most of what I get I cut to about 24-30" and then hog ring it at regular intervals to the bottom of the vertical woven wire fencing.
Also never had any real experience trying to train Huskies, but other chicken killers were brought around using a method I can't recall the origins of. The idea was that you get the dog to trust you rolling them on their back, which hearkens to something submissive or that their mother did when they were pups. Some are more trusting than others to this and that in and of itself can sometimes take a good while to encourage. Once the dog is comfortable with you doing this you then introduce the chickens by holding it above the dog and gradually bringing it closer over time (again minutes or over days, depends on the dog). I think it was a combination of teaching the dogs not to get excited or anxious over their proximity to the birds' flighty and/or erratic behavior, as well as some kind of possible dominance and submission thing. We've used it several times with a high strung Aussie, a Healer and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, all with good results, but the Bay took weeks. Once it took though they just ignored the birds altogether, and we feed rabbit and chicken in our diet (although cooked, not raw).
Lastly, our neighbor raises some really special Bearded Collies that are wonderful. They're comfortable with our small sized pastured pigs, as well as small ruminants and all of our birds (everything from ducks and chickens to turkeys, geese, and guineas). Extremely alert and friendly with energy to burn and a coat that keeps them comfortable in all types of weather. Even had them work as ratters for us out in the barn. One of my daughters had two Huskies and I honestly couldn't see a use for them on the farm, unless I was someplace that got plenty of real snow. Down here on the mid-Atlantic coast they just seemed miserable. People really do need to learn to pick dogs that are appropriate. Our Aussies were rescues from knuckleheads that lived in the suburbs and kept them penned up all of the time and then wondered why they were "trouble". Workin' dogs need to work, and I would suspect that the Huskies suffer from a lot of that same kind of boredom leads to "trouble" when not allowed to live in their natural element.
"When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world."
- George Washington Carver (1864-1943)
I had a siberian and an iditarod husky and a yorkie,
living with free-roaming; chickens, ducks, roosters and rabbits,
for over 10 years in France.
Only one time, the Sibe, "Ru", pounced on a hen, like a game, and we lost* her.
(*she died within a minute or two.)
He was reprimanded and he never attacked another hen again.
As a precaution, I put up a small garden fence when the chicks were growing.
It has to do with, if you're home all day, also,
because... a farm-life is created, where they are all part of your family.
The dogs begin guarding the birds and eat their meals outside
with the birds nearby or next to them.
Though, if you rarely visit with the birds, and only treat them as an extension group,
they're forgotten essentials to you, and to the dogs also.
Mine were free-roaming birds, (except at night), with at about an acre of walking space every day.
The larger space given to the birds, also has to do with territorial acceptance, for the dogs,
Including a new work goal as markers and bird watchers as well.
For the birds diet, an acre is better,
however as they sometimes get too lost in all of the meadows,
the larger space can be annoying for many people,
because they never wanted to be bird herders also.
Too many people though, put them in a cage, for their whole lives,
where the birds live a trapped existence and never know the freedom of chasing a butterfly.
With the dogs, even as lazy bird-watchers, the birds had longer lifespans as free-roamers,
because the dogs dominated the land, away from foxes, etc.
Huskies though are very blasie, and really are more territorial-markers than bird-watchers,
whereas a yorkie will bark at any quiver of sunlight.
Personally, I would never, have chickens without a husky or other dog present.
The siberian, male, began living with chickens at 2-3 years old.
and the alaskan (iditarod) husky, male, began living with chickens at 5-7 years old.
If the farm is very large, and the dog(s) are too far away from the birds,
then farmers tend to lose them to predators.
For example; a pond with your pond birds, a distance from the house is not a good idea,
as the dog(s) will prefer to be at the house more, leaving the pond unattended and more vulnerable.
My pond birds, bathed in the pond, and then hung around next to the house all day.
For free-roaming birds, feed them near the house, and walk among them,
sit outside and do your work around them, and just be a pain to predators.
If going away to the store, you can put them indoors, depending upon how wild your region is.
Another option not discussed here worked for me and my hell hound. This might get some negative feedback but it really doesn't hurt that bad put it on and shock yourself first if you want, I did.
Get a shock collar and crank it to max power, slap it on him and when he goes for the chicken, boom. If he goes for it again and he's not so smart, boom again. He shouldn't ever do it again. Cheaper and easier than fencing. My dog will defeat any physical fence eventually if determined, mental fences are harder to cross.
The thing is, a fence gives permission to cross it as long as you can, you've conditioned the dog to think- Oh there's a fence let's see if I can get in this is fun. With the collar his only conditioning is "whoa what the hell I went for this chicken and got shocked not sure why but I don't like that so I'm not doing that anymore." Key is to hide behind a tree or something and let him loose so that he thinks he decision to go for the chicken results in shock (classical conditioning) NOT "my master tells me not to go for the chicken and then I do and get shocked" you want it to be HIS choice not to go for them.
Shock collar works well enough if the dog doesn't make the connection to either you seeing him in the act or wearing the collar. Dumb dogs often forget the correction regardless. Determined dogs may fight through it. Smart dogs can get to where they test to check if the collar is "live" or not. Some dogs are geniuses at telling if they're being observed. Some will revert as soon as you stop using the collar.
"Aversion therapy" works best on dogs that condition rather than think. Occasionally a dog will decide the chicken, snake, or whatever has attacked him, and attack it back. (One of my Labs reacted to snake-aversion training that way, thereafter killed many rattlesnakes, and in the process was bitten so many times that his face acquired a permanent droop. But he was so proud of himself...)
It's a good idea to have the dog wear a dummy collar for a while (a week at minimum) before using it, to work around the dog's whodunit-detection.
Electric collars made to last start at about $150, and come with a dummy collar. (I can recommend The Collar Clinic a good and reliable place to shop for same.) But you can get a cheap one off eBay for about $25, and tho those models aren't very durable, they're good enough for occasional use. You can make a dummy collar to match with a bit of wood or plastic and a couple bolts through a regular collar.
Be aware that the collar needs to be snug, and its necessary prongs will make pressure sores, so take care to move it around regularly (reverse it daily; they usually want to hang to one side or the other). You can usually get away with having it a little looser with the longer prongs.
I agree with R.J.Smith that the shock collars make more sense then trying to build a chicken fortress. I have heard that hiding so the dog doesn't realize you are involved is a good tactic especially if you ever leave the dog unattended with the poultry. You want to zap them when they lunge for the bird so they realize it is their aggressive behaviour that is causing the shock and not just proximity to the bird. Soon the dog(s) think that they are lightning birds and leave them alone.
Breed selection is important obviously as some breeds are more prone to being aggressive with livestock.
Permaculture, Tiny House Living, Homesteading