Why Won’t My Hens Perch?

We recently received an email from one of our customers asking if we had any advice for her as her hens were no longer using the perches in their hen house.

We turned to you, our fantastically knowledgeable Facebook and Twitter followers, to see if you had any advice on encouraging chickens to use their perch. Here’s what you said:

 

“Are they ex-bat hens? If so, they probably won’t perch but will snuggle up in the nest boxes. None of our ex-bats have ever perched!”
“Mine don’t perch, they are ex bats. They did perch in their old house but the perches were only a couple of inches off the floor. They seem perfectly happy on the floor/ in the nest boxes so no worries here.”
chickens perch
“The hen might not know about perching, so pick up the hen, hover her over the perch then let her feet go on it and slowly take your hands away and let her settle? Just an idea.”
“Borrow a hen from a friend that does perch.”
“Block the nest box till morning, nest boxes are for laying not for sleeping!”
chicks perch
We thought your advice was great and our customer decided to try a lower perch, so we shipped one off immediately. Thank you to every one who took the time to reply and make suggestions to solve the perching problem.

Setting Up Your Battery Operated Electric Poultry Netting System

Meriel Younger, from Electric Fencing Direct, joins us again on the blog and continues her guide to electric poultry netting kits. 

Your battery electric netting kit has arrived, you have never seen an electric fence before, and have no idea how to put it up… here are some pointers and useful tips.

Battery Operated Kit Contains:

  • Electric netting including posts
  • Guys and pegs (for bottom line) and netting repair kit
  • Battery Powered Energiser and Earth Stake (the energiser spec depends on the number of nets)
  • Electric Fence Warning Sign
  • 12v Battery (Leisure/Agri battery preferably as will hold power longer)

battery operated electric fence

Preparing the Area:

  • Clear the area of any debris – i.e. sticks and large stones and ensure there are no branches or plants that could touch the netting and short it.
  • Mow or lay dpc or spray the grass where the netting is going to stand.

Setting Up Your Battery Operated Kit:

  1. Locate the Energiser close to the net (this can be at the end or middle of a net) and push its stand and earth into the ground. Please keep the energiser off the ground to prevent it getting damp. (For Solar Units ensure the solar panel is facing south and out of shade so it receives the maximum amount of sunshine)
  2. Link the earth cable on the Energiser to the supplied earth stake using the green crocodile clip. For a multiple earth system, locate earths 1m away from each other and link via lead out cable.
  3. Link the live cable on the energiser to the metal clip on the net or the top line of the netting with the red crocodile clip. DO NOT attach the crocodile clip to a vertical line in the net (as these are not electrified).
  4. Link up the two battery leads, (black EARTH first, then red LIVE). When switching the energiser on you will see the Energiser flashing indicating it is sending pulses. To disconnect the Energiser from the battery, switch off, take red LIVE off first then black EARTH.
  5. Solar Assist: attach the solar panels clips on to the appropriate battery terminal and then attach energiser clips on to battery terminals.

 

To Set Up The Netting:

  1. Lay out the net in roughly in the position you want the net to be.
  2. Put the first/start post in to the ground.
  3. Go around the netting putting the posts into the ground – use your foot to pull the bottom of the post to ensure tension in the netting.
  4. Position your hot gate if you have one – connect by using the metal clips on the netting
  5. Your netting doesn’t have be in a circle… it can be in a straight line if required.
  6. Once your netting is up tweak its position and use your guy ropes (half way up the post) to put tension in corners or on long straight sections. Use netting clips to lift any sagging sections or reposition the posts with your foot to get better tension.  Wooden corner posts can be used to give extra tension to netting but the netting must NOT touch the wooden post or it will short.  Peg down the bottom line – it is not electrified.

electric fence 

Testing:

Once all is connected you should ideally test your net with an Electric Fence Tester. It must be greater than 3000v to be effective.

If below 3000v you have:

  • You have too much earthing (listen for a clicking sound) reposition net posts so that live lines do not touch the ground, slightly leaning the posts outwards sometimes helps, otherwise add netting clips or more posts.
  • Poor connection between the Energiser and net (you may even see it sparking at night).
  • Poor connection between Energiser and earth stake.
  • Battery needs re-charging (take live line off the net and test voltage output of wire).
  • An equipment failure.

Further Notes:

  • The Nets: Keep vegetation away from the net (i.e. by mowing or if in a semi-permanent position by spraying or lay down a strip of heavy material e.g. damp course under the net).
  • Additional nets: are linked by slotting the end clips together and then tie together with the green cord provided.
  • Gates: Hotgate is an easy way to access an enclosure. It has an insulated handle and a foot plate for the moving post to slot into.
  • Set Up Tips: Do not try to pull the net too taught during set up. Once the net is up, re-position individual posts until the net stands up right. If you have undulating land or are very exposed you may need more posts and/or net tensioners, which will minimize sag. (To insert follow instructions for adding the ‘Gate Post’) Setting the posts at a slight angle outwards can also help improve tension.
  • 12v Battery: For best results use a ‘Deep Cycle’ battery (e.g. a fencing/agri battery) with a minimum output of 30 amp hours for the smaller Energisers, or a minimum of 60amp hours for larger Energisers. These should last approx. 4-12 weeks between charges. Car batteries are not recommended, they are not designed to be discharged and will let you down.

electric netting

We love talking electric fencing… so if you need to contact us: call 01620 860058 or email info@electricfencing.co.uk

www.electricfencing.co.uk

Components of a Poultry Netting Kit Explained – Part 2

Meriel Younger, from Electric Fencing Direct, joins us again on the blog and continues her guide to electric poultry netting kits. 

poultry netting

Last week the guide covered:

  1. Mains, Battery or Battery/Solar – which power is best for you?
  2. Which Energiser – which energiser is best for you?
  3. Earth Stakes – are these essential?
  4. Netting – which one is best for your hens?

If you missed last week’s post, you can read it here.

This week we’re going to look at:

  1. Access to the Netting Enclosure – how do you get into your netting enclosure?
  2. Accessories for Electric Netting
  3. Electric Fencing for a Permanent Enclosure

 

Access to the Netting Enclosure

For many years electric netting simply had an extra fence post placed at one end of the netting and this was used as a swivel gate – i.e. the netting swivelled around on this post as you moved the end post to access the enclosure.  Last year, Hotline Electric Fencing developed a ‘hot gate‘.  The hot gate comes in two heights – 1.1m and 1.2m.  It can easily be added on to the end of a net and the power transfer is completed by connecting the two metal clips.

The main advantages of the ‘hot gate’ are two-fold: 1) the gate can be opened with-out having to turn the power off as the gate has an insulated handle 2) the movable gate post has no spike and so is slotted into a foot plate – meaning that in wet weather this post will not make a mess of the grass as you go in and out of the enclosure as it is not being pulled in and out of the ground all the time.  There are also netting gates which constitute a couple of posts and a section of netting – nothing fancy but will do the job.

  1. Accessories for Electric Netting

Sometimes if your ground is very windy or exposed it is advised that you should add extra posts to your kit to help prevent sagging and to create good tension in the netting.  The extra strong corner posts come in two sizes 1.1m and 1.2m.  They are actually slightly taller than the netting and so can tension the net too.  These extra strong corner posts and any extra post can easily be fitted into the netting.  The netting will come to you as it left the factory… the posts are set in specific positions… but if this doesn’t work for your set up … move the posts.  They are easy to undo and replace.

The bottom line of an electric fence is not electrified and should be pegged down.

Guy ropes should be used – these come with yellow pegs.  Guy ropes should be attached to posts in the corners and should be attached half way up the post and then tensioned out the way.  Putting up an electric net without its guy ropes is similar to putting up a tent without guy ropes!

Fence testers – I guess you could use your finger… but it is not all that pleasant!  Use your tester regularly to check for shorting (i.e. foliage growing up around the bottom of the fence) and to see if your battery needs charged.

  1. Electric Fencing for a Permanent Enclosure

Perhaps you already have a permanent enclosure in place and would like to make it doubly secure?  Why not add a couple of lines of electric fencing around the enclosure?

permanent electric fencing

…Last but not least here are a few set up tips:

  • Ensure you use a tester to check that you are getting enough zap around your fence – should be at least 3000v.
  • The bottom line is not electrified but the next horizontal line up is. Use guy ropes and extra posts to help lift the net and prevent sagging.  If the second line up touches the ground it will cause shorting.  It is possible to cut the second horizontal line at both ends to prevent it touching the ground and therefore shorting.
  • If you have not got enough power going through your netting (less than 3000v) please check that the netting is not touching any of the metal prongs. Please make sure you have not attached the netting to any wooden posts.

We love talking electric fencing… so if you need to contact us: call 01620 860058 or email info@electricfencing.co.uk

www.electricfencing.co.uk

Components of a Poultry Netting Kit Explained – Part 1

Meriel Younger, from Electric Fencing Direct, joins us on the blog this week and explains what components are required when looking for an electric poultry netting kit. 

electric poultry netting

Whether you have an egg producing business, or you simply have a few hens in your back garden, you may be confused as to which electric fence system would suit your hens’ needs best and most importantly keep Mr Fox out!

This week, we will look at the following:

  1. Mains, Battery or Battery/Solar – which power is best for you?
  2. Which Energiser – which energiser is best for you?
  3. Earth Stakes – are these essential?
  4. Netting – which one is best for your hens?

Next week, we’ll cover:

  1. Access to the Netting Enclosure – how do you get into your netting enclosure?
  2. Accessories for Electric Netting
  3. Electric Fencing for a Permanent Enclosure

 

  1. Mains, Battery or Battery & Solar?

Mains – is the easiest power source to use.  It can be left running or put on a timer to come on at certain times of day.  Make sure your mains energiser is kept in dry conditions – a lead out cable will run power from your energiser to your fence.

Battery – if your fencing is too far away from the mains then battery is the way forward.  Make sure you use a leisure battery rather than a car battery.  Leisure batteries cost more but last longer between charges as they are slow release.  Keep testing your fence to see how much power is going through the fence – as soon as this drops, charge your battery.

Battery/Solar – if you want to run a solar energiser you will still need a source of power i.e. a battery.  The energy from the sun is used to trickle feed the battery.  So you don’t have to charge it so often.  Be sure to test your fence regularly and keep an eye on the power levels when there have been a few dull days in a row.

  1. Which Energiser?

Always consider powering up when setting up an electric netting system.  Netting takes more energy and a higher powered energiser to make it an effective barrier.  Think ahead… are you going to extend your enclosure?  How many nets could you end up joining together?  Power up and choose an energiser that is going to push plenty of zap through the netting.

  1. Earth Stakes

Who would have thought that a piece of metal could be so important!  The earth stake or earth spike is a crucial part of any electric fencing system.  How dry is the ground where the netting is going to be set up?  Is it very stony?  Are there lots of tree roots?  There are different types of earth stake – the heavy duty T Section earth stakes have a larger surface area and so ensure a better zap.

 

  1. Netting

Measuring up is very important… a 50m net can take up more space than you think.  It is possible however to roll the netting up at one end (always put some heavy duty plastic under the rolled up section to prevent grass growing up through the netting).

Here is a basic guide to each of our nets …

  1. Standard Poultry Nets (25 or 50m)
  • 1m netting – close mesh
  • single pronged thin posts
  • netting comes with posts, pegs, guy ropes, warning sign
  • can be clipped together to extend enclosure
  1. Premium Poultry Nets (25 or 50m)
  • 22m high netting – close mesh
  • double pronged medium weight posts throughout
  • netting comes with posts, pegs, guy ropes, warning sign
  • can be clipped together to extend enclosure
  • a 1.2m netting hot gate can be added (but is not included)
  1. Professional Poultry Nets (50m)
  • 22m high netting – close mesh
  • double pronged strong posts throughout
  • double pronged heavy duty corner posts
  • netting comes with posts, pegs, guy ropes, warning sign
  • can be clipped together to extend enclosure
  • a 1.2m netting hot gate can be added (but is not included)

Tune in next week for part two of the guide to electric poultry netting kits!

We love talking electric fencing… so if you need to contact us: call 01620 860058 or email info@electricfencing.co.uk

www.electricfencing.co.uk

Summer Treats for Your Hot Chicks!

We all love a treat from time to time and your chickens are no exception to this rule. Occasional treats are a great way to bond with your birds and they can be useful if you’re trying to help them beat the heat this summer.

chickens in the grass

As a general rule you shouldn’t give chickens treats when it’s hot as digestion promotes increased internal body temperature. However, frozen and cooling foods can be particularly welcome when the weather hots up.

Here’s a quick list of frozen treats that will help them keep cool:

  • Frozen mint ice cubes – it’s long been known that mint has cooling properties both for humans and animals. Freezing chopped up mint leaves in an ice cube tray and giving them to your hens will give them something to do and help them cool down. You can also add extras such as peas and diced strawberry to the ice cubes for an additional treat.
  • Frozen berries – try throwing a handful of frozen berries into a bucket of cool water and watch your hens go mad for them!
  • Frozen fruit smoothie – if a frozen fruit smoothie sounds delicious to you then it probably will to your hens as well. Including a bit of natural yoghurt can also help your hens’ digestion.
  • Frozen watermelon – you can cube it, slice it, or cut it into quarters, then put it in the freeze until frozen and give to your flock as a fruity frozen snack.
  • Frozen veg – vegetables such as sweetcorn makes a great frozen treat. Freeze it in a muffin tin and put a few portions out in the morning to keep your hens occupied throughout the day.

frozen sweetcorn

Remember, treats alone won’t keep your hens cool so you’ll need to take other measures to ensure your hens are happy and healthy in the heat. Here’s a little reminder of some of the tips we gave you a few weeks ago:

  • Provide as much clean, fresh water as you possibly can, especially in shady spots where your hens will hide in the hottest part of the day.
  • Increase ventilation in the coop by opening all doors and windows. You may also want to leave the chicken house windows open overnight if it’s safe to do so.
  • Create some shade using tarpaulin, patio umbrellas, wind breaks, and ornamental plants in pots.
  • Keep bedding in the chicken house to minimum – save the deep littering for the winter!
  • Give your hens a shallow paddling pool so they can cool their feet and avoid the hot earth.
  • Make sure your chickens have a shaded area to dust bathe in. Not only do they do this to keep clean, but it also helps them to keep cool.

chickens drinking

Have you got any tips for helping hens to stay cool in the summer? We’d love to hear from you if you do!

 

Photo credits: Pets4Homes and Pinterest 

How to Spring Clean Your Chicken House

The weather has warmed up and that means it’s the perfect time to get outside and give your chicken house a really good scrub. Sunny days make it easy to dry out damp houses and your flock won’t mind being outside in the sunshine whilst you’re giving their coop a spring clean.

chicken coop cleaning tools

Here are our does and don’ts for a chicken house that’s clean as a whistle:

Do get your gloves on

Of course putting your marigolds on before you start cleaning your house will stop your hands getting dirty, but it will also keep you safe from the bacteria in the coop and the chemicals in the disinfectant.

Don’t skimp on the elbow grease

Even though a well ventilated chicken house should help keep the bacteria to a minimum, all chicken houses will still benefit from a good scrub a few times a year. Use a small brush to get the dirt out of the nooks and crannies. Then use disinfectant spray or powder to keep bugs and bacteria at bay.

Do recycle your newspapers

Our houses are designed with an easy clean floor but you can make cleaning even easier by recycling your old newspapers and using them to line the floor before putting bedding on top.

When you need to clean the house simply roll the newspaper up and take all the dirty bedding with it. This method is also good for minimising the mess made when cleaning your chicken house – perfect if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to rake up the mess from your garden.

Do have a quick clean daily

Whilst you might not full time to do a full clean daily it’s worth spending a few minutes removing faeces and any very dirty bedding every day. It will make doing a full clean an easier task and reduce the risk of bacteria build up.

Don’t forget feeders and drinkers

If you’re going to be giving your chicken house a full clean it’s a good idea to also clean and disinfect their feeders and drinkers. Give everything a thorough scrub and soak before refilling with fresh food and water.

chicken feeders and waterers

Don’t use hay as bedding

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – hay is not a suitable bedding material for chickens. Damp hay releases fungal spores, especially when your hens scratch around in it, and this can cause a respiratory disease called aspergillosis.

Do fix it if it’s broke

Make sure to set some time aside to carry out any maintenance jobs on your chicken house every time you give it a deep clean. Patch any holes, oil squeaky doors, and replace any pecked perches. You could even give it a fresh lick of paint!

Don’t forget outside too

If you keep your flock in a run or enclosure then don’t forget to tidy that up as well. You can hose large concrete runs, rake runs on grass or wood chippings, and if you have a movable run simply rotate it to a new patch of grass.

Do get into a routine

Giving your hen house a weekly or fortnightly deep clean will prolong its working life and make sure your hens stay healthy. Pencil the time into your diary and make yourself a checklist so you don’t forget any important cleaning tasks.

chicken and egg notepad

 

Photo credits: Hen Cam, Read My Chicken Scratch, Etsy

Keep Your Hot Chicks Cool this Summer

Chickens usually adapt well to varying temperatures and if you live in the UK you won’t often find yourself having to deal with extreme weather conditions. Though, it’s still worth having a few tricks up your sleeve for when the sun does come out this summer, no matter how rarely that may be!

For experienced chicken keepers the sight of their hens sunbathing is a happy one, after all, who doesn’t like to top up their tan! However, this can be a surprise to novice chicken keepers, and as much as chickens love to sunbathe, sometimes the heat can get a little much.

Liquid refreshment

Dehydration is a big cause of death in chickens and unfortunately sometimes a chicken is too far gone to be saved. Keep your eyes peeled for any signs of dehydration and know what to do if one of your flock does become ill.

Signs of dehydration include:

Lethargy
Gasping/panting with their beaks open
No interest in food
No reaction to stimuli

If you do find a dehydrated hen the best course of action is to move the bird to a cool, dark, quiet place and provide water with electrolytes. You may need to help the bird drink every 10-15 minutes over the next few hours.

Once the bird is drinking by itself you can give it watered down food. You’ll need to keep in for the next 24 hours and provide water and wet food at all times.

To try and make sure your hens stay happy and healthy, here are our top tips to help keep your flock feeling fresh when the weather gets warm:

Chickens love cold drinks too

If you find yourself reaching for an icy cold drink in the summer then why not make one for your hens?

Use the cooling blocks you can get for picnic hampers or freeze water in a small plastic container, then place in a bowl of drinking water. The blocks will keep the water cool all day and provide a refreshing drink for your birds.

Make some shade
Chickens need to be able to get out of the sun to cool themselves down so make sure there are plenty of shady spaces available. You can create shady spots using tarpaulin, old patio umbrellas, or even plastic table cloths.

jim vyse chicken shelter

A Jim Vyse Chicken Shelter

Don’t feed “heavy” foods

Just like we don’t like to eat big meals when it’s hot chickens don’t either. Foods such as corn take longer to digest, therefore creating a higher body temperature and making your hens hot.
Swap to pellets and try giving treats such as frozen or refrigerated strawberries and watermelon.

Give them a “bath”

In this case we don’t mean a water bath, we mean a dust bath. Dusting bathing is essential for chickens to stay healthy, especially in hot weather. If your chickens aren’t able to create a dust bath themselves by digging holes in the garden then provide them with a shallow tray or box containing sand.

chicken dust bath

Add electrolytes to water to combat dehydration

You can buy electrolytes for chickens from most country stores or online chicken supply shops. You would usually use them if you had chicks but in hot weather chickens of all ages can benefit from electrolytes.

Keep their coop cool

All chicken houses should have good ventilation but if possible you should increase this during the summer. Open all of the doors, vents, and windows during the day and if safe to do so, consider leaving vents and windows open at night.

You can also direct the sunlight away from the chicken house by placing a sheet of reflective foil on the house roof in the mornings. You could use the screens usually seen on car dashboards for the same effect.

Let them chill out

Interacting with your chickens will make them excited and run around more so keep interaction to a minimum. If you do need to move them or catch them try to do this first thing in the morning or before they go to bed when it’s cooler.

chickens in a swimming pool

Don’t try this at home!