Electric Fencing

Should I Use Electric Fencing For My Chickens?

While some members of the chicken community may be steadfastly against using electric fencing for their chickens, many others wouldn’t have it any other way. Electric fences serve many uses besides just keeping your chickens inside their run.

These uses include not only keeping predators out and away from your precious flock, but also “teaching” those predators to associate your chicken with pain, thus making it less likely that they’ll return in the future and try to attack at a different time. This could be just the thing for you if you’re encountering a rather persistent predator.

It Can Be More Cost-Effective

Using electrical fencing for your chicken run may also end up being a little more cost-effective than just regular wire fencing. It will help to keep more predators out and away from your flock, which will also give you a chance to allow your flock more time to forage.

This will inevitably save you money as you won’t have to spend as much to replenish the food for your flock. This will also ultimately train your chickens to learn that their run is the safest place for them. After a couple of unpleasant shocks, they will learn to stay within the confines.

You don’t have to worry too much about harming your chickens with an electric fence. Their feathers are a great insulator when it comes to electricity. This means that they have to touch a very specific spot, like their feet or their beak, in order to even feel a shock. This is good news for your chickens, but for a predator, which will be more likely to inspect the new fence with their nose – bzzzt – they’ll get the point straightaway and will hopefully turn their tail and run.

It’s also important to note that the voltage in an electric fence generally ranges from 5,000 to 7,000 volts. If your main concern is dealing with predators, you don’t want to go under 5,000 when selecting your electric fence. That’s not too high that it will deal much damage, if any, to your chickens if and when they do get zapped. Plus, we all know that chickens are very clever animals, so they will learn quickly and will easily adapt to having the fence around them.

Enjoy Free Exterminators…When You Want

You may even be able to set up the electric fencing in a way that will benefit you. Some are mobile and allow you to rearrange the barrier at your own leisure. That means, during the times where bugs are running rampant and attacking your garden plants, you can place the barrier in a way that it will surround your garden. This will allow your chickens to have some fun taking care of those harmful pests.

Alternatively, when you want to keep the chickens out of your garden, you can simply place the electric fence in a way that the garden is not included inside their boundary. This could really apply to any area you want to keep your chickens out of for that matter. Easy Peasy! Surely it’s been a life (and plant) saver for many gardeners out there in the chicken community.

Good Option If You Need Mobility

If your primary use for your chicken is to show them off, and tend to visit many different shows or other farms, you may want to invest in electric poultry netting. While it can be expensive, it can be easily laid out and packed up, so it’s kind of like having a chicken run in a bag.

This is also helpful if you’re in some sort of temporary housing situation. Maybe you’re staying with your parents while waiting for a house-flooding situation to get taken care of? Stranger things have happened, but the point here is you might find yourself needing to pack up your flock quickly and relocate them for one reason or another. Having a reliable barrier that will keep them in place wherever you are may come in handy.

Another bonus with using electrical fencing for chickens is that it doesn’t have to be only for chickens. For the most part, and because they are more mobile than a regular chicken run, they can be used for other livestock. If you maintain a bunch of farm animals, like sheep and cows, you could even use the fence to keep them wrangled in.

Easy To Set Up

When deciding to go with an electrical fence, you will find that there are many kits available that include all of the pieces required for the initial setup. If you’re in any way skittish about trying to DIY your way through setting up an electrical fence, this is definitely the way to go. Most sites that sell electrical fence kits can supply you with the materials needed no matter the size of the area you’re attempting to fence in. A lot of the kits can be assembled in as few as 15 minutes!

Some of us might have other more personal reasons to use electric fencing besides the fact that it’s just more efficient and easier to set up. Maybe you had a chicken run built, but it didn’t work as well as it should, and you had to learn the hard way. Maybe you lost a few chickens in the process. That’s always unfortunate, but it happens all too often. Maybe you want to give those predators, who will be back at some point, a little taste of their own medicine.

Don't Forget Warning Signs

Although the electrical shocks felt by predatory animals and your chickens aren’t too bad, you still don’t want any people – especially children – to have to endure the shock. If you do decide to set up an electric fence, and are known to have the occasional visitor from time to time, you should make sure that there are plenty of warning signs around it. 

The last thing you want is some kind of frivolous and unnecessary lawsuit. This is especially true when it could have been avoided by spending a couple of dollars at the local hardware store on a few signs.

How Do I Know That It’s Working?

There’s a simple way to know if your electrical fence is working or not, and that’s by watching your chickens closely. If you notice a chicken touch the fence and then quickly move back and flutter her feathers, chances are she just endured a light shock. Now, if you fast-forward two or three months without any incident, you may become complacent. You might just assume that everything is still working swimmingly, but this may not be the case.

Watch Out For The Wiring

One problem with electrical fences is the wiring is easily disturbed. Even if just one wire is disconnected the fence will not function correctly. Fortunately there are some electrical fences that come with an LED indicator that will let you know the current status of the fence, so if you check that occasionally, you will know whether the fence is still working fine or not.

If you plan to get one that does not have the LED indicator, you may need to check the fence manually from time to time. This could be as easy as touching the fence and enduring the small shock yourself, or you can manually go around the fence’s enclosure and check each and every spot where a wire would be.

If you notice any loose wires they will need to be fixed so you can get the fence back into working condition. You can also invest in a cheap electric fence tester, which is a voltage tester that is specifically designed to test and measure electrical output.
You will also need to keep the grass and other foliage around the fence well-trimmed. Grass, or other items, touching the fencing could end up running all the juice out of the energizer.

If you’re concerned about the energizer running out frequently you may opt to go with an electric chicken fence that comes with a solar charger. That will ensure your energizer or batteries stay full at all times.

There Are Always Pros And Cons – And Personal Preferences

Using an electric fence for chickens is definitely a personal choice. Some swear by it, others swear at and against it. Some people feel that it’s inhumane, while others feel that it’s the most humane thing for the chickens to keep them safe. Surely the debate will continue raging for decades to come.

In the meantime, if you decide that you want to go for it and give electrical fencing for chickens a try just know that there are many different options out there. Should you go with the netted option? What about the 1-wire or 2-wire setup? You will need to invest some full focus into reading the topic thoroughly so you will be able to choose the best set up that will fit your specific layout and situation. 

Chickens do not handle stress well, so if you want to help alleviate their extra stress, an electrical fence may be the best way. This is especially true if you’re dealing with bobcats, raccoons, weasels, or any other predatory and bothersome animals on a regular basis. Chances are pretty high that setting up an electric fence would actually work to get rid of them and discourage them from coming back to your chicken run in the future.