Electric fencing is very versatile and can be used for either temporary or permanent fencing for your poultry. It is cheaper and easier to erect than fox-proof wire mesh fencing and safer than barbed wire.
If your existing fencing isn’t fox-proof, a 3 wire electric fence system will keep your chickens safe. Fix the wires onto the existing fence posts with insulators, one low down, one about knee hight, and one line of wire along the top. This three wire system is also effective on its own, using electric fencing posts to hold the wires in place, although this is possibly more suitable as a more temporary fence.
Another electric fence system for chickens is using electric nets. Netting is a more physical barrier than electric wire, tape or rope, it has multiple strands of electrified wire running through it so is an effective barrier for both containing your chickens, and keeping their predators out.
Whichever electric fence you use, make sure the lower conducting wire is high enough for hedgehogs to walk under. Although the current isn’t strong enough to kill an animal with the 1-second pulse, unfortunately, hedgehogs curl up to protect themselves when stressed, which can mean they receive multiple shocks, which can kill them.
Hotline electric fence supplies have a wide range of electric fencing for sale including electric fencing posts, wires, tapes and ropes, as well as electric netting. They also offer 25m and 50m poultry net kits, with everything you need to set up, except the 12v battery. Hotline electric fencing products are available to buy online, with free delivery to mainland UK.
Does Electric Fencing Work for Chickens?Electric fencing is highly suitable for chickens, it is a highly effective containment fence for all manner of poultry, and when properly installed, electric fencing works on two levels.
The fencing itself forms a physical barrier, while the electric shock element forms a psychological barrier, one short, sharp sting from the fence is usually enough to deter any animal from touching it again.
A two or three wire set-up is an effective electric fence on its own. The bottom wire being about 5 or 6 inches off the ground, the second about 10 inches, and the third, if you choose to have one, about knee height. The important thing to remember is that long grass or weeds touching the lower wire can cause a weakness, or break in the circuit.
Therefore, you will need to strim, mow, or use a weed killer under the fence if it is a permanent fixture, to make sure it stays effective, foxes are cunning, and know when the fence is inactive.
Electric fence netting is equally popular for use with chickens and is a more physical barrier for containing your poultry, as well as having the electrical deterrent element. The netting has metal conducting twine running through and is simple to erect with support posts. Being lightweight, electric net fencing is particularly good for portable fencing when you want your chickens to graze specific areas, and move them frequently while keeping your local fox away.
Best Protection Against Foxes & Other PredatorsInterestingly, foxes are easier to control than chickens. The fox won’t try to burrow underneath an electric fence, nor jump over. Chickens, with their thick feather insulation, are less sensitive to a weak electric fence, so you need a battery source of 12v to ensure your fence is effective enough to contain your flock.
An effective deterrent to predators like foxes and badgers. In fact, the availability of electric fencing has been credited as one of the factors that have helped the free-range poultry farming industry to grow, it is cheaper to install than the traditional fox-proof wire mesh fencing, and very effective at controlling predators.
If you are using the electric fencing to fox-proof your existing fencing, the most effective system is to use three strands of stainless steel, or galvanised wire, attached to your fence posts using screw-in insulators.
The best spacing is to have the lower wire about 6 inches off the ground, the middle wire about knee height, and the top one just above your fence. Predators tend to sniff fencing to find a weak spot, so the bottom or middle wire will catch them on the nose. The top wire is there to prevent climbing over the fence.
Choosing Between a Fencing Kit and a Net?
Choosing the best fencing for your chickens to give them the freedom to run outside, but also protect them from predators, especially foxes, is a minefield with so many options available. It is also important; an RSPB survey concluded that 1-in-4 British gardens are visited regularly by foxes. So whether you have a few chickens in your back garden, or you have a farm, getting the right protective fence is vital for your chickens’ survival.
Interestingly, using an electrified fence of any type is extremely effective as a deterrent for foxes, and it doesn’t need to be very high. Luckily, foxes are very sensitive to electric fences; they are unable to perceive the limits or extent of the electric field and therefore do not attempt to burrow under, or jump over the fence, even if it is low enough for them to do so.
Of course, deterring predators is only one purpose for your fencing system, the other is containment of your chickens. Is a stranded electric fence effective, and how many lines of cable is required? Or is an electrified net a better option? Unlike foxes, chickens are less easily deterred by electric fencing, they are very well insulated by their feathers, so the fencing needs to be capable of giving them a strong sting, and it is important to maintain the fencing to be sure it remains effective.
Using the Traditional Wire/Cord Electric Fence
This system can be used to electrify an existing non-electric fence by attaching the cable to the posts with insulators. Alternatively, as a stand-alone fence. Many poultry keepers are happy with this system for containing their chickens, spacing the lines with the first one around 6 inches from the ground, the second about knee high, and the third -- if used --, about 18 inches above that. This is particularly effective if your ground is uneven, as you can space the push-in posts closer together to keep the cable low so the chickens can’t duck underneath where the ground dips.
Using A Netting Fence
Electric poultry netting is a simple and successful means of containing and protecting your poultry and can be used for permanent fencing of a large garden or field, or as a temporary solution. Poultry netting may appear more expensive than other systems, but you don’t have the cost of insulators or posts, you just have the cost of an energiser and battery, or the necessary cabling if you are going to power it through your mains electricity. The size of energiser required will depend on how large an area you are covering.
Using a Fencing Kit
The advantage of buying your poultry net in a kit is that it comes with everything except that battery. You will have the confidence of knowing you’ve got the right sized energiser, so you can just take it out of the box and set it up - instructions are included, then connect your battery or mains supply. Poultry netting kits tend to come in 25m and 50m lengths.
As with all electric fencing, you need to ensure that you maintain the ground under it so foliage doesn’t touch the lower conductor wire, to do this you can slide the net up the posts and mow or strim the area, or use weed killer.
A useful tip is that when you are moving your fence net, just gather the posts and allow the net to fold itself, if you try to wind it up, the netting can get caught up, and you could damage the conducting wires.