Trials and Tribulations of Electric Netting

As promised, this is the blog post about how we are faring with the electric netting. I will qualify this by stating that it is as described by Premier1 and their staff is very helpful. There are some things to bear in mind when looking to make an investment in this type of portable fencing.

The Charger
You need the right kind of charger for netting. My understanding is that the fencer we have for electric fence wire will melt the plastic in the netting.  We ordered a new fencer that is compatible with the electric netting.

Handling the Fence
I can’t imagine one person trying to move this fence by herself. It arrives all neatly bundled and tied. One person holds the fence while the other person pulls the fencing off the top, one section at a time. The netting is laid it out on the ground while the fence holder follows along.  The thin wire that is wound through the plastic looks quite fragile. This is a problem since the netting is easily snagged on twigs and debris; I would be extremely careful about dragging this fence along the ground. Rough handling is its enemy which is why it takes two people to setup, move and take down. Maybe it could be handled by one person if she was feeding it out of a cart.
We had to take the fence down once already to move it to an entirely different spot. The experience  was kind of like refolding a road map. Please comment if you know any tricks that make it possible for one person to manage this fence.

Sagging
We ordered the package with the 5 extra posts that added a lot of stability to the corners. The customer service rep recommended adding some fiber rods to prevent sagging at the bottom of the fence. I couldn’t really envision what she meant by “sagging at the bottom”. My concern was sagging at the top. I soon saw what she meant. The bottom wants to flop over and the live horizontal wire is then laying on the ground shorting out the fence. We added an additional rod in between each built-in post to keep the fence from from sagging.

Mowing
I’m not certain quite how this is handled if you are only mowing where you want the fence to run. It seems like it would involve some measuring. We decided to set the fence up in a smaller dirt area devoid of vegetation. The hoop will remain stationary and the fence moved around it. Once the hens have scratched and fertilized one 40′ x 40′ area, we will move the fence and plant buckwheat in the area just vacated. Eventually the fence will be moved back to the now grassy area for the chickens to rework. We hope to develop some additional pasture this way.

Tester
This is your best friend. It will let you know if your fence is as hot as it should be. I use mine everyday. If it is registering in the weak zone, I look for a saggy place or debris resting on the fence.

Troubleshooting
The instructional material that came with the netting is not complete. There is more troubleshooting info in the product description on the Premier1 website if you run into difficulties.

Benefits
I have to say that I really do love this fence. The chickens respect it and have not escaped. I don’t have to wait until dusk and shut them up so predators won’t get them. The fence is a formidable barrier against any marauders. This also means that an inexpensive tarped hoop is adequate shelter until Oct/Nov. If my plan works I should be able to improve an 80′ x 80 ‘ area this season while allowing my chickens to free range.

What Do You Do
How do you handle this type of fencing. I’m curious about mowing the perimeter of the next area the fence will be moved to.

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Comments

Trials and Tribulations of Electric Netting — 7 Comments

  1. I love my poultry fence…but what a bugger to work with. I set mine up by myself and I move it by myself…it’s an all day job because I have hooked 3 fences together! Premier’s website is a God-send. I bought lots of extra fiberglass poles…the kind with 5 or 6 hooks…they work really great.

  2. We just bought some netting (not Premier1) for our 2 goats (so they will clear some brush). I was misled by Farmtek phone staff and got a charger that was too weak for the netting – per the netting manufacturer helpline – it puts out a good jolt (we shocked ourselves twice trying to get things started), but apparently is not enough to energize the netting fully. I noted top and bottom sagging and will have to rig some sort of insulated bracing, I suppose, to keep things taut. After reading your blog post, I realize I am going to have to get things down to bare dirt underneath the fence line. I am wondering about cheap viable alternatives to expensive chargers sold in catalogs – 6V recreational batteries, car battery converters, etc…
    Not exactly your out-of-the-box, into-the-field product.
    I did try to move it by myself some today, while my wife was attending to something else, and had medium luck folding the fence over so the plastic posts were together, grasping the posts with one hand and manipulating the netting part with the other. Only got tangled up six times! I agree that dragging this over the ground just gets stuff caught in it and creates another job.
    Interested in your setting, which is much like ours here in Georgia – we are trying to go with nature instead of against it, cultivating things that actually like it here – blackberries, sweet potatoes, pecans; we also have been looking for a decent tractor so long ( I want one that doesn’t cost what we paid for our first house) that we’ve been thinking about getting along without one – particularly since the very able 12-year-old in the next farm over has done some of our bushhogging.
    Have a bunch of chickens that run around during the day freely.
    – Woody, Williams Family Farm, http://www.thewilliamsfarm.com

  3. We use portable electric netting for both our meat chickens and our goats. The meat chickens live in a cattle panel house that gets moved daily inside the netting, with netting getting moved about once a week. Both goats and chickens are in in the pasture so we have to mow the perimeter before setting it up. The goats spend their days in the netting, nights in the barn. Their netting gets moved about every 4 or 5 days.

    We lay out the fence and then just move it in a little and use the push mower where it needs to go. My husband usually moves it – I’ve done it before but it isn’t easy since my hands aren’t big enough to comfortably hold all the poles at once. But moving definitely gets easier with practice.

  4. Thanks for your candid review. I’ve been running my broilers in a pvc tractor and have been wondering if this fencing might be a better option. The effectiveness against predators has been my biggest consideration. I think I’ll be saving up for one to use with next year’s meat birds.

  5. The way I pick up the electro-net is to start at one end, pulling each post as I go. The netting folds up behind me. When I get all the posts pulled, I put them all into one arm, and stick the fingers of my other hand through the layers of netting so I can pick them up and they won’t drag (and get tangled). That way I can carry the whole thing to a new spot. When I get to the new location, I drop the folds of netting, and start dropping one post at a time as I walk the new fence line. I usually walk sideways, or backwards, so I can watch and make sure the netting isn’t tangled in something. So by the time I’ve dropped all the posts, the fencing is pretty much in its new location. It’s not stretched at all, so there are some adjustments that have to be made.

    This year we have five lengths of electro-net for the sheep. My husband and I can move them to a new location in about an hour and a half, start to finish. If I am working by myself, it takes quite a bit longer. We’re using an M-80 fence charger, and it handles the 5 lengths just fine.

    I noticed that someone else mentioned not being able to hold all the posts in one hand, and I can’t either, so when I’m gathering up the last two or three posts, I use both hands. When I have them all, I can cradle them in one arm and have the other free to pick up the folds of netting.

  6. If you don’t know the blog, you might try checking out Nita at http://matronofhusbandry.wordpress.com . I know she uses electric netting for her steers, and I believe she used to for her layers (she was doing 200 eggs a day as I recall.) She’s very focused on mob rotational grazing, and moves her fence – alone – pretty much every day. She’s done several posts on the fencing, so it may be interesting for you.

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