Sunday, September 17, 2017

Why a fence for chickens won't work for goats (and vice versa)?

For the sake of our beloved chickens and goats, we are repairing the fence. We're still half-way, but here's a report anyway.

Drilling holes for new wood posts...

... hammering posts into the ground ...
... attaching wire mesh to the posts...
... and finally attaching wood planks over the mesh.

 Repeat on the next part of the fence.

The goal is to make the old fence both chicken and goat proof.

Chicken proof and goat proof are two very different things, as we learned after two years of experience with chicken & goat cohabitation.
Now we know what a perfect fence for both should look like.

Chicken proof and goat proof fence.
(That duck in the middle, that's wild.)

So why a fence for chickens won't work for goats and vice versa?

Because chickens are little flying birds while goats are big mammals with hoofs and horns.
Neither chickens nor goats have any respect for human-set boundaries (why should they?), but their ways of crossing the boundaries are completely different.

Fence and Chickens

With our old fence being just 1 meter high, smarter chickens easily flew over it. It wasn't okay, but somewhere deep inside we thought it was freespirited, funny and cute. Until some of the rice farmers around started spraying chemical weed killers on the slopes of their rice fields (where the runaway chickens liked to play). And - that was the final straw - until one chicken was hit by a car (she died instantly). The driver didn't even attempt to slow down. Clearly, not everyone thinks a free ranging chicken is funny or cute.

For a fence to really protect chickens from outside enemies like this, it should be more than 2 meters high, so part of the current repair process is making the fence higher. We're making it about 1.8 meters high, which is less than the ideal 2 meters, but still a substantial and hopefully sufficient upgrade of chickens' safety.

By the way, our chickens' run, to which they have unrestricted access all the time, has an area of about 580 square meters, which I'm confident is big enough to keep them happy, without the need to fly out and play on the road.

Fence and Goats

The old fence - made of simple wire mesh attached to a few wooden posts - was bound to give in to the goats.
In defense of goats, their intent was never destructive, it's just that they like doing all things anti-fence:
1. rubbing their backs against wire mesh. This clearly give goats great pleasure. Unsurprisingly, after a while posts start to lean and mesh to tear.
2. fiddling with the fence with their horns. This must be so fun! It's also the best way how to tear up the mesh, making holes in it (through which then chickens can escape).
3. using the mesh as a step to reach for things over the fence. Like this:

Natchan reaching for her favorite shrub over the fence.

The same scene from the opposite side.
You can see her hoof on the mesh.

In order to make the fence goat proof, it's necessary to
1. use more and thicker posts to support the fence.
2. attach wood planks over the mesh so it can withstand goat pressure.
These two things are now a part of the repair process.

This is how we've been spending many of our no-rain weekends and some weekdays for the past one and a half months. I wrote this blog today only because it's raining.

God bless chickens and goats for keeping us busy.
(In fact chickens think I'm the god.) (Goats are atheists.)