Electric fencing has been around a long time, and has been used with chickens since at least 1960. The methods used then still work today.
The earliest mention I’ve seen of electric fencing with chickens was in a 1960 issue of “Egg Producer” magazine. The electric fence consisted of a single strand of wire 4-5″ off the ground. That’s it! This single low wire was enough to hold in the hens and discourage predators. Sometimes they added a second wire at 8-10″ off the ground, but it was mostly just for show.
I’ve tried it, and it works! And I got independent verification by stumbling across a site that talked about keeping raccoons out of your sweet corn. Same deal.
I once watched a coyote chase a hen that was outside the fence, but come to an abrupt halt when the hen raced past the two wires. The coyote stopped so fast I almost expected to hear tire squeal! Clearly the fence intimidated it to the point where even the prospect of a certain meal didn’t tempt it.
I cover this more fully in a follow-up post about electric fencing.
I also have an Electric Fencing FAQ with more details.