The next thing you need to consider for your animal is containment. There are a lot of different options for containment for different types of animals. We have definitely learned some things as we have brought home different animals.
Cats, goats, and pigs put the art in escape artist. No I am not joking here. You can try to contain these animals, but they will get out. All you can do is work to make the containment stronger, hole free, and taller. No I am not kidding. The best you can really do is have a plan on how you are going to recapture them and put them back where they belong while trying to figure out how they got out in the first place and fix it.
Poultry, horses, and some dogs can also be good at getting out, but if you have a good containment system, generally, they are easier to keep in. With these animals, you simply have to be smarter than they are. Make sure there are no places just big enough for them to walk or skinny through, go under, or jump over and you should be pretty good. Also a good idea is to keep your poultry’s wings clipped if they keep getting out. You will find that some birds will never test the fences and other birds you will have to clip their wings every 2 weeks as they grow and every 6 months as adults.
The different types of containment systems are also a matter of preference. You can use cages, fences, electric wire or netting, electric collars, leads, or even runs. We have used a little of each so let me tell you what we have learned.
Cages are good for small animals like rabbits, indoor birds, and the like. They make it very easy to contain the animal but also do limit things like exercise and generally you have to clean them more often. Our rabbits are in hanging cages so that their excrement falls to the ground and is easier to clean. We would prefer to have our rabbits on the ground and have tried several different colony styles but they always seemed to get out no matter what we did and when we stopped trying to pen them in by just letting them loose, we lost all of them for one reason or another. It just didn’t work out. Another good use for cages is for really young cats to keep them safe as they are getting to know their new home and dogs when being house broken. Crate training for dogs is a very quick, easy, safe method for training your dog and, if done right, this becomes a safe area for the dog and they learn to love it.
Fences are good for just about every animal depending on what type of fence you put up. The catch with fencing is that it can be very expensive depending on material, and generally once it is up you can’t move it around. Right now, our young poultry are inside of fences because we generally do not see having to move those fences and we can set them up with holes small enough that our young poultry are secure in their areas. We also hope to one day surround our entire property with a fence, but that is a long way off as it is way too expensive for us at this time.
Electric collars can be useful if you have an animal easily trained to electric stimuli. Most people use these for dogs, but I have seen them used for cats and goats. This is where you put a collar on your animal that has 2 prongs and a battery in it and you put a wire around your property, usually buried, and when your animal gets too close to the wire they get a shock. This works for some people. However, the downsides to this are that you have to keep an eye on the collar constantly because those prongs can create sores in the neck of the animal if too tight, and not send a shock at all if too loose. Also, if your animal ends up on the wrong side of the invisible fence because it ran through the shock it could prevent the return of the animal as well.
Leads are good for short term use for different animals. A lead is basically a collar or harness of some type on the animal attached to a rope, chain, or cable that is tied to a stake, tree, or other immovable object. We use this method when we want to put the horse or goats in an area that is not fenced for a few hours to eat. We have also used this for dogs before we found better ways to contain them. If the animal is not checked on every few minutes at first to make sure they can handle the lead and then every few hours after that to make sure they are not tangled and can still reach their water, this method could lead to strangulation, dehydration or other problems. Please use common sense when tying out your animals and check on them often so they are not in danger. This is not a good long term solution for keeping animals.
A run is another type of lead, but instead of tying it to an immovable object you attach it to a pulley system overhead. This allows the animal to have a greater ‘run’ area as well as limits the amount that the animal can get tangled. Keep in mind though that even though it limits the amount of getting tangled, it does not eliminate it, so as with the lead, you need to keep an eye on your animal to make sure that it cannot get the lead tangled around themselves or other objects. If the animal is not risk of tangle or strangulation then this option is generally safer for longer periods of time.
The best option that we have found on our farm and use the most often is the electric wire and netting. The electric wire, we actually use the rope, is great for containing large animals such as horses and cattle. This is a wire that is run from pole to pole around the area where you wish to contain the animal and is attached to a solar battery that keeps the fence charged so if the animal should run into it, it is discouraged from doing so again.
The electric netting is basically the same thing but instead of one wire, it is a net fencing. You can get these in all different sizes with all different size holes. Our favorite is the poultry netting. We have found that this will not only keep in a bird about the size of a full sized chicken, but it is also good to keep in goats. That being said, if the fence is not always kept on the goat will know it as they like to test it often, and they will walk over it and get out… as I said earlier, escape artists.
We also use this type of fencing for our pigs as well and at least once a day we will hear one of them squeal because they tested the fence again to see if it was on. The best feature of these fences is their mobility. It is very easy to set up and take down, so we can move the animals around the property to where there is more browse or graze area for them.
- Animals On The Homestead
- Housing For Animals
- Feeding Your Animals
- Have We Thought of Everything Yet?
- Choosing Your Next Best Friend