Poultry Netting for Pigs


Poultry Netting with Bottom Ends Clipped

Several times I’ve recommended using electrified poultry netting with pigs to do managed rotational grazing and said “clip the leads to the bottom two wires.” The problem with poultry netting is that the pigs bury the bottom of the fence grounding it out and the weeds grow up also grounding the fence. This reduces the charge and the effectiveness of the netting. The bottom two wires aren’t needed with the pigs because the bottom two wires are below the pig’s contact points – As they tip their head forward their ears hit sooner and higher.

How to modify poultry netting:

  1. At the end posts there is a vertical bundle of wires that leads from the hot clip at the top and then down to each of the horizontal wires.
  2. At the bottom of the end posts find the part of the vertical bundle (last two remaining wires) that are leading to the bottom two horizontal electrified wires on the netting.
  3. Clip those two leads. Do this at both end posts. This keeps electricity from going to the bottom two horizontal wires so they become just a physical barrier and not electrified.
  4. The purpose of this is to reduce the incidence of shorting due to fence sag, dirt push up by pigs and plant growth. This increases the voltage on the wires making the fence a more effective barrier.

Poultry netting works easily on lawns like they show in the catalogs. We have hills, brush, rocks and grass grows. All of that makes fencing a bit more challenging. It is a very good idea to tension the fence at the corners with a guy wire to a stake, a tree or something else that is solid to keep the fence from sagging. This also helps.

By the way, I recommend poultry netting, not sheep netting, because the poultry netting has smaller hole spacing. The bigger sheep netting lets piglets through and they could get caught in the net – not good. Same for lambs.

It is important to keep the fence tight so it doesn’t sag and grounded out. A good way to do this is to tension it at the corners. Pegging down the bottom between verticals also helps. I would use a charger of 2.5 joules or so.

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A little trick in fencing is to rewire the fence so that the power comes from the top down and ideally there is a resister on the lower wire leads. This provides the maximum power at the top and for the whole fence while draining the least power from the system.

Outdoors: 80°F/51°F Sunny
Farm House: 78°F/69°F
Tiny Cottage: 72°F/60°F New roof sheet coating done Wednesday

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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17 Responses to Poultry Netting for Pigs

  1. Joan says:

    great idea! HOWEVER, if I want to use this fencing for other purposes at different times, say moving broilers or turkeys about, would it keep predators out? As I write this, though, I am already guessing I could RECLIP that bit with an alligator clip doohicky. My two piggies come next Wednesday…yippee for pasture pork.

  2. Exactly, Joan. That is why I leave the tails tied back after clipping. If I want to later I can retie them. I’ve never actually wanted to but the option is there.

  3. Andrea says:

    Hi Walter,
    I’ve read alot of your blog entries as well as “saw” you around the HT board(s). We are new to pastured pork (research and planning stage)and I have a few questions…:D
    1) With portable pens (poultry netting and step in or re-bar posts) how many pigs in say a 100′ square foot enclosure?
    2) Can a boar be kept in with sows and move any sows not to be bred when they ‘come in’ or is it best to completely seperate the boar?
    3) We have yellow pine thickets and have been told that pigs will eat the baby and sapling pine trees…I don’t really see this being likely…any thoughts?
    4) What breeds or crosses are best for pasturing? We want to sell weanlings and raise for personal use as well as meat sales.
    Any help is greatly appreciated.
    Andrea

  4. Joe Riederer says:

    Again a very timely post. I use electric netting to keep my pigs on a 40X40 pod. I move them to a new pod once a week. By the middle of the week they have buried the bottom hot wire and there is not enough “love” flowing through the netting to do much. After I move them, the bottom stays free for a day or two and they get a few reminder jolts. I’m just hoping they don’t figure out that by Friday night the fence has no power.

    I will try clipping the wire and see what happens.

  5. Alex Tiller says:

    Thanks for the tip. I have someone I would like to share this with. I will direct them to your blog.

    Alex Tiller
    http://blog.alextiller.com

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great post! We’ve been raising a single hog behind electric netting (42″ high and 6″ between vertical stays). At about 3 months of age, she learned how to turn her head to the side, grab a line post, and pick it up out of the ground without getting shocked! Smart creature. Granted, this would probably not happen with the 3″ spaced poultry netting. What we did as a workaround was angle the line posts inward toward the hog using the same idea you find on top of a barbed-wire security fence. This seemed to do the trick. Angled inward, she’d get a good shock on the ears before being able to get her mouth on the post. This also kept her from rooting/berming close to the edge of the fence.

  7. Ted says:

    Great sight. You write very well and I appreciate how you share your experiences on your farm. For someone like me just getting started so much of this can’t be found in books.

  8. Josh says:

    I was wondering what do you do about grounding the fence with each move?

    • The poultry netting is run off a hot wire from the field perimeter line which gets its grounding from the master ground system back at the charger. Nothing else is needed in our climate and soil. In very dry soils I would run a ground wire around the fence on the bottom and drive ground rods at various places around the perimeter.

  9. Rachel says:

    I am just starting a pastured pork operation in Oklahoma. I am purchasing feeder piglets at weaning age and hoping to rotate them on pasture using poultry netting (http://www.premier1supplies.com/fencing.php?mode=detail&fence_id=30). I have a PS 15, 12Volt Solar Charger (http://southwestagriculturesupplies.com/products/ps15-solar-fence-charger-12v). Charger and netting has been used for chickens, but is this enough “shock” for pigs? How many volts, or amps do pigs normally need for a fence to be effective?

    Any tips on training piglets to electric netting? I’ve heard they can run right through it and tear it. Do you have experience training them to a netting by using an exterior fence?

    Thanks for any help you can offer!

    • It is important to keep the fence tight, not grounded out, very hot and clip the bottom two hot wires. I would use a charger of 2.5 joules or so. I have no experience with solar fence energizers. I put my energizers where the AC power is, run perimeter lines and then branch off of that to interior fencing. This is much less expensive and allows the use of the better quality AC charger. Solar sucks batteries.

      Train with a strong physical barrier outside the netting.

  10. Kristin says:

    I’ve read this post before but we didn’t have chicken netting, just sheep netting for the sheep. After using the chicken netting for a few months on chickens, I’ve come to the conclusion that the bottom wire are two aren’t needed for them either. Brilliant, Walter, just brilliant!

  11. Tom says:

    Hi Walter,
    I’ve been reading your blog for several months now. To the point, on my Virginia Piedmont property I have cut trails(12 feet wide) through my 15 year old mixed oak/maple property. I’ll be liming the trails in January and over-seeding with clover in early March. The cut trails have created paddocks that are about 550 feet long by 90 feet wide. I have 10 paddocks of the trees and then about 10 acres in weedy pasture. And about another 25 acres that is still quite wild, but may be usable one day. None is fenced in yet, and I don’t have grid electricity. So I’ll use solar chargers, and i think I’ll have to tinker around and add a real solar panel to the solar charger(s). Questions: I am sure I have seen pictures of several strand polywire fencing around your paddocks or pasture. Correct? Reading about the chicken wire, about how high off the ground surface is the first hot wire when the chicken wire fence is clipped? And what is the total height of your fence(s)? I’ll have to run a ground wire next to the hot wire as my soil tends to run dry. can you give an approx height to start my wires, and a max height to have the top wire? I’m going to spend a fair amount of $$ on regular wire goat wire fencing, 4 inch openings, on some areas, but also just want to use polywire on the oak/maple paddocks and hope to rotate both some of the fencing along with the pigs on a several weekly pattern. I don’t plan to have much more than 6 to 8 pigs at one time, at least for several years and learn what I am doing along the way. I’ll keep searching the blog for info on fencing, but if you can find the time for those questions I’d be grateful.
    Thanks for the great blog

    • Instead of using solar chargers you might want to just build your own. The solar chargers I’ve seen don’t deliver much power and cost a lot. If you take a regular good AC wall powered charger and set it up on a good deep cycle battery or truck battery you can then put on a small inverter and your own solar panel or simply swap batteries out of your vehicle (tractor, skidder, truck, etc) so the vehicle charges the battery while you drive. AC wall powered chargers don’t use a lot of current but are better than the best commercial solar unit I’ve ever seen. Of course, only do this if you are nimble and handy with electronics. High voltages and all that good fun.

      In our forests the trees grow more widely spaced than 12′ typically and there isn’t a lot of light down on the ground with the dense canopy above. 12′ lanes are pretty narrow if I understand what you’re doing. I would aim for more like 24′ or 50′ for each paddock lane. However, what really matters is are you getting sufficient light to the forages below. If you are then all is good.

      I would fence double lines on either side of the trees. That is to say every paddock has a fence line keeping the animals off the trees and away from their root buttresses. I fence for the bigger animals and let the smaller ones creep to get food between the lines. Keep an eye on things to make sure they don’t damage the trees. Good news is if they don’t over compact and over fertilize an area – so move them around – then the manure and urine they drop should help the trees grow faster.

      If you space the trees out then you might consider planting apples, hazelnuts, pears or what ever else is appropriate for your soils and zone in the double fenced areas between the trees – use tree guards of mesh to protect the young bark.

      We use polywire extensively. Go with more wires (at least six), stainless steel is ideal and walk it regularly. Send the power out along the top wire of paddocks and perimeter. The lower wires should be powered by the top wire. This helps with shorting.

      We have our outside perimeters at four feet for the most part as we set them for sheep. I like the inner paddock divisions to be low enough that I can step over them easily (32″ inseam). Pigs don’t tend to jump these. The general rule for fencing is low and high walking nose heights – thus it is based on the size of the animals. Two wires is often enough. More wires when you have more variety of sizes.

      The poultry netting’s lowest hot wire after clipping is generally around 4″ to 8″ off the ground. Pin the bottoms with sticks between the vertical stays and pull the corners tight for good fencing. We have netting of various heights. For piglets the lowest around 20″ is fine. Sows will jump that. A hot wire above that stop them. Sows don’t tend to jump 32″ or higher although we have had some athletes. (Dogs can jump up to 8′ – train them as to which fences they are allowed to jump.) The poultry netting is expensive – use polywire where possible.

      I’m envious of your oaks! :)

      • Tom says:

        HI Walter,
        I ordered one of those German intelligentsia 12 volt battery 7 joule fence energizers, not a solar unit, for my portable pen. I am going to try out your idea of the AC unit with a 12 volt battery and an inverter and a solar panel for my perimeter fencing. That is going to be something that I want to mount well protected from the elements with that inverter involved. I’ll let you know how that works.

  12. Nathan Baltus says:

    Great post Walter,

    Would there be any possible benefit it attaching the two (previously hot) leads that are recommended to be clipped, to the bottom black earth wire?

    I have resolved to make the changes you mentioned to our fencing after 5 weeks of our first batch of pigs, as you said…..between the rooting and the weeds, I’m out there clearing the fence every week.

    • Grounding those two leads would raise the problem higher towards the hot leads so I would not do that. A string trimmer, ducks, geese and sheep are all good for clearing along fence lines. Placing fences in shade also helps, e.g., forest.

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