You probably know that electric fences can be used with cows, horses, and dogs. But have you ever heard about using an electric fence to keep chickens safe? While traditional non-electric chicken fencing is more popular, electric chicken fencing should not be overlooked.
Electric chicken fencing has many benefits and can keep your flock safer than conventional chicken fencing.
However, there are many types of electric fences out there.
Some are made from aluminum or galvanized steel wire, and others are made from polywire.
Then you also have to consider the energizer and the various power outputs and pulse rates.
Keep reading to learn all about electric chicken fences and find out which one is best for your flock…
|Editor’s Picks||Brand||Our Rating|
|Best||Starkline Electric Poultry Netting||4.5|
|Most Flexible||RentACoop’s Poultry Electric Fence||4.4|
|Budget Friendly||Petween Electric Fence Netting||4.0|
|Best Solar||Starkline Electric Poultry Netting Solar Kit||3.5|
|All Rounder||Premier Supplies Electric Poultry Fence||4.0|
Contents and Quick Navigation
- What To Know Before Buying
- The Best 5 Electric Chicken Fences
- Buyer’s Guide (Features to Consider)
- How To Install An Electric Chicken Fence
- Common Problems
- Alternative Fences
- FAQs about Electric Chicken Fences
What To Know Before Buying
Before you get an electric chicken fence, there are a few key things you need to know.
The height of your fence needs to be high enough so that none of your chickens can fly over it. For most chickens a six foot fence will accomplish this. However, some small chicken breeds can fly over a six foot fence if they really want to.
If you do not yet raise chickens, or are considering getting new chickens, look into how high their breed can fly to make sure that the fence height you have in mind is high enough to contain them.
Next you need to consider how much fence you need.
You need enough fence to go around the circumference of your flock’s run. If you already have a fence in place, then you can measure the length of that fence to determine how much electrical fence you need.
Do not forget that you also need to include your coop within the run.
Two-Wire System or Mesh Netting
A two-wire system for electrical fences means that there are two wires running along the fence that are electrified. The first electrified wire is close to the bottom of the fence, about four to six inches off the ground. This is usually low enough to shock any predators trying to dig under the fence. The second electrified wire is at the top of the fence. This will shock any predators trying to climb over the fence.
Whereas with an electrified mesh netting fence, all parts of the netting are electrified.
Both two-wired systems and mesh netting electric fences will work for chickens.
Mesh nets are simpler and easier to set up. However, more weeds will come in contact with the electrified portions of the fence since the entire fence is electrified. This means that more strict weed maintenance may be required.
Two-wired systems are cheaper, but harder to install. Two-wired systems are also more adjustable and best if you plan to build a DIY electric chicken fence at a custom height.
Is Electric Chicken Fencing Safe for Chickens?
Yes, electric poultry netting is safe for chickens.
Chicken feathers are poor electricity conductors. Most of the predators that the electric chicken fence is designed to keep out are mammals that have fur and skin, not feathers. This means they are less insulated against the effects of the electric fence. In other words, they receive a bigger shock than the chickens do.
Also, electric fencing for animals is not designed to be painful.
Many electric fences will send out pulses of electricity that only last 0.0003 seconds. This is long enough to be psychologically uncomfortable by causing the muscles to spasm, but not long enough to cause lasting damage or pain.
The Best 5 Electric Chicken Fences
Best Beginner: Starkline Electric Poultry Netting
The Starkline Electric Poultry Netting is pre-assembled which makes it perfect for beginners. This set comes with all insulated posts, conductive wires, and connectors already in place. You just need to unroll it and hammer the spikes into the ground to set it up. That is it. You can also arrange multiple panels to create a run in any shape you want.
- Easy to set up
- Can attach multiple rolls together
- Very good value for money
- No assembly needed
- Smaller chickens can fly over fence
- Energizer not included
- PVC posts not that stable on non-flat terrain
Most Flexible: RentACoop’s Poultry Electric Fence
The RentACoop’s Poultry Electric Fence is a wonderful choice for beginners. The netting is pre-fastened to the fence so it is very quick to set up. It’s even built with consideration for growing chicks. The rows closest to the ground are spaced closely together to prevent any chicks from escaping or getting stuck. This fence also has guy lines that add extra support to prevent sagging. This is great as it stops chickens flying over areas of the fence that are sagging down.
- Pre-assembled and easy to set up
- Comes with guy lines that prevent sagging
- Repair kit included
- Double spiked posts provide extra support
- Only four feet tall
- Does not come with energizer
- Difficult to use on non-flat terrain
Budget Friendly: Petween Electric Fence Netting
The Petween Electric Fence Netting is well suited for chickens that have a flat run. It is affordable and perfect for chicken keepers on a budget. This fence is a polywire mesh netting that comes pre-attached to fiberglass poles. The mesh itself contains bright green and yellow wires which makes it more visible. This is great if you have kids or other animals so they can avoid the fence. This fence also has smaller openings on the bottom, making it safe for chicks too.
- One of the cheaper options
- Very lightweight and easy to move
- Fiberglass poles are more suitable for rough terrain
- Connects to other mesh nettings as well
- Poles can get brittle
- Fence is too low for bantams
- Energizer not included
Best Solar: Starkline Electric Poultry Netting Solar Kit
The Starkline Electric Poultry Netting Solar Kit comes with everything you need to get started. Set up is easy and simple. Common problems with DC and AC energizers such as dead batteries and power outages won’t be a problem as this fence is entirely powered by the sun.
- Solar energizer included
- Easy to set up
- Suitable for use with chicks
- Can be used as permanent or temporary fencing
- Small breeds can fly out
- PVC not suitable for rough terrain
All Rounder: Premier Supplies Electric Poultry Fence
The Premier Supplies Electric Poultry Fence is a natural-colored and chick-friendly fence. With dark black and green colors, this fence is big enough to be seen and avoided without appearing out of place. It is 42 inches tall and consists of polywire netting on PVC poles. This mesh netting also comes with conductive clips that make connecting and powering multiple rolls simple.
- Comes with clips to easily attach multiple rolls
- Suitable for use with chicks
- Needs extra posts to stop fence sagging
- PVC posts not very tough
Buyer’s Guide (Features to Consider)
When you pick an electric chicken fence, there are lots of different features that you need to consider. Knowing about these features will help you to choose the best fence for your flock.
One of the main features to consider is the power source.
There are three different power sources for electric chicken fences. These are AC, DC, and solar-powered.
- AC means you plug it into a traditional electricity outlet.
- DC means it is battery powered.
- Solar means that the electric fence will receive all of its power from the sun.
One of the biggest advantages of solar is that it can be placed anywhere on your property that gets sunlight. Additionally, solar power sources can even store solar energy so that the electric fence will still work during cloudy days.
The only downside is that the initial cost is high, usually somewhere around $500.
If you cannot afford a solar power source, the next best option is AC. You can plug it right into an outlet and you will never have to worry about buying and replacing batteries. It is also cheaper than DC power, as it will only add a couple of dollars to your electricity bill each month.
The downside with AC power is that you need to have electricity wherever you plan to set up the energizer. If it is too far away from a power source, you will have to use DC instead.
There are three main fence materials : aluminum, galvanized, and polyrope.
Aluminum wire is very light and conducts electricity well. If you have to choose between lugging light aluminum and heavy galvanized wire around the backyard, your arms and back would thank you if you chose the aluminum! The downside of aluminum is that it is more expensive and more prone to breaking.
Galvanized steel wire is heavier than aluminum, but it is stronger, more durable, and cheaper. However, it is less conductive than aluminum wire which means that you might need a higher power output.
Finally, there is polyrope. This material is a conductive blend of plastic fibers. This choice cannot rust and is the best choice for creating temporary electrical fences.
Power Output (Joules)
The energizer is the part of an electric fence system that supplies electricity to the fence. They come in different joule ratings as a measurement of how much electricity they provide.
How many joules the energizer needs to provide depends on many factors, including: the total length of fencing used, how many strands within the fence are electrified, and how many weeds and other plants are in contact with the fence.
Most nettings will come in 165 ft rolls. The most common power output is 0.25 joules per roll of netting used.
So a 0.5 joule energizer is enough to supply two rolls of poultry netting.
If you compare this to the ideal joule-to-length ratio of electric fencing for other animals, you may notice that it is higher for chickens. This is because electric chicken fencing is closer to the ground and will come into contact with more weeds, so it needs more joules to compensate.
How To Install An Electric Chicken Fence
Some electric chicken fences will come in kits that provide you with everything you need to install them. Others will only come with the netting, posts, and spikes.
Before you start assembling it, check that you have any other materials that you may need such as an energizer and a way to test the voltage of the fence.
- The first step is to mow the grass. You need to make sure it is under four inches tall. If the fence has too much contact with grass then it will decrease the voltage.
- Next, you need to untie the netting. At this point you want to double check that you have enough netting. Unfold it all and lay it on the ground in the expected path of the fence.
- Find one end of the netting and push the spiked end of the pole into the ground. Once the first pole is in, move onto the second pole. The second pole should be far enough away from the first pole that the top border of the netting stands in a straight line parallel to the ground.
- Continue to put each post into the ground until the entire fence is up and secured. If you need to use multiple rolls of netting then most rolls come with either extra material that you can tie together or a clip to keep them electrically linked.
- Once all of your netting is set up, you need to connect your energizer to your fence. To correctly set up the energizer you need to set up a ground wire. You can do this by hammering a conducting metal pole into the ground. Wrap wire around the pole and connect it to your energizer.
- Now you should connect your energizer to your fence. Most energizers have a clip that will clip right onto the electric fence. If your fence and energizer come with no clear way to connect them, you can tie a conducting wire along the output area of the energizer and around the fence.
- With the energizer hooked up you can now turn on the power. Check that your fence is working properly by testing the voltage.
Your electric chicken fence should now be set up!
There are some problems you might encounter while using an electric chicken fence.
Once of the most common problems is that bugs can ruin your energizer.
Some bugs will nestle themselves into the electronics of your energizer. Red ants in particular are notorious for this. If you find this happening then the best you can do is clear it out and try to restart the energizer. When installing your energizer try to find a place away from any known insect nests. If you find insects starting to invade your energizer then clear them out and move it to a different location before the infestation gets worse.
Bad weather can also cause some problems.
Ice and snow can lower the conductivity of your electrical fence. After a heavy snowfall you should test the voltage of your fence. If the voltage has decreased then scrape off the ice and use a leaf blower to remove the snow.
Frozen ground near your ground rod can also cause the electric fence to stop working. Try to put your ground rod close to a sheltered place where no snow can get to it. You can also use a more conductive metal for your ground rod such as copper to decrease interference from frozen ground.
Tall weeds can come into contact with the fence and decrease the voltage too. This problem can easily be fixed by cutting or removing the weeds. They can be safely cut by turning off the energizer to the fence first.
Another common problem is inadequate grounding.
Electric fences will not work properly if they are not adequately grounded. During set up, the pole used for grounding should be about 3 feet deep. The quality and moisture of the soil will affect its conductivity. In order for the fence to be grounded, the soil around the grounding pole cannot be too dry.
Finally, you need to make sure you use the correct energizer.
If an energizer with the wrong pulse rate is used, it can cause a fire. Most energizers used for electric fences have a pulse rate of 0.003 seconds. This means that the electric fence is not continuously electrified. Energizers with a higher pulse rate or continuous electricity supply can cause too much heat to build up and start fires.
Although electric chicken fences are the perfect option for some chicken keepers, it is not for everyone.
There are actually a few different fences you can use.
A tall wire fence is a cheap, metal fence that can be up to six feet tall. If you have really flighty chickens then this fence can be a better choice as most electric fences are not tall enough for flighty hens. This fence can also discourage some climbing predators. Make sure the fence also goes at least one foot deep into the ground to stop predators who try to dig under it.
Another good option is an enclosed fence.
An enclosed fence has fencing material that completely covers the top of the run. This stops your chickens from flying out and also prevents predators from flying in. This type of fence is best in areas where there are lots of aerial predators.
If you do not want a fence or wire in your backyard then there are some other options.
Dogs in the backyard help to keep daytime predators at bay. You can also include plants such as bushes or trees within the run. Your chickens can hide under them and they are less likely to be spotted by aerial predators such as hawks.
FAQs about Electric Chicken Fences
How much electric chicken fence do I need?
How much fence you need will depend on the size of your run and coop.
You need enough electric fencing to enclose the entire perimeter of your run. You can pace around the perimeter of your run and coop to get a good idea of how big it is.
Can chickens get shocked by electric fence?
Yes, chickens can get shocked by an electric fence.
However, the shock they receive will be a more mild shock than the shock that a predator would receive. This is because chicken feathers are excellent insulators and are not good at conducting electricity.
What type of electric fencing can be used for chickens?
Either mesh netting electric fencing or a two-wire system can be used for chickens.
If a two-wire system is used then there should be a second type of fencing that this system is set up on. Otherwise, chickens would be able to escape through the gaps in the wire.
A misconception that many people have about electric chicken fencing is that its main purpose is to do a better job of keeping your chickens contained. The main use of an electric chicken fence is actually to keep predators out.
However, a good electric fence should also keep all of your chickens contained.
While electric chicken fences are a great option for most chicken keepers, they are not for everyone. Many commercial electric fences are not tall enough to contain bantams. Also, some chicken keepers may have enough alternate forms of predator control, so the electric fence is not worth the cost.
However, if you are struggling with predators then they are certainly worth a try.
Most fences are easy to set up and take down. This can make them the perfect option for setting up temporary runs around mobile coops too.
Let us know how you get on in the comments section below…
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