More about simple electric fences for chickens

In a recent post about electric fencing, I talked about one- and two-wire electric poultry fences, but not how to go about making or using them.

Plus, I found a funny video that features a simple electric fence (though with a high wire for horses rather than a low one for chickens).

Benefits of One-Wire Electric Fences

  • You can step over them — after all, they’re just a single wire five inches off the ground — no gates required!
  • You can drive right over the fencewire without turning the fence off. The wire will spring back.
  • If a predator gets inside the fence, the chickens can’t be cornered by a one- or two-wire fence: they pop right through. Usually this means that the flock scatters and the predator kills only one. With a conventional fence, the chickens can’t get away, and predators keep killing until they run out of targets. That’s a tragedy waiting to happen.
  • If a chicken ends up outside the fence, it will eventually work up the nerve to cross the fence to get home. Regular fencing leaves the chickens stranded outside.

One-Wire Electric Fences: Materials

=&0=& I use AC-powered units from Parmak. The bigger, the better. Chicken fencing shorts out easily against molehills and growing grass, so you need a lot of zap. =&1=& These are plastic fenceposts with an iron spike at the bottom. As the name implies, there’s a little step on them so you can plant them in the ground with your foot. Get one for every 20-30 feet of fenceline. =&2=& Aluminum fence wire is the good stuff. It stays bright and shiny forever, so the chickens (and other critters) can see it easily and avoid it. Galvanized wire becomes dull and invisible over time. Polywire sags too much for low-wire fences and is annoying to work with. =&3=&. It’s convenient to put the charger in a barn or shed and then run the high-voltage wire along a fenceline. At gates, some people use heavily insulated wire buried slightly underground, but I prefer to jump the fence on ten-foot poles (rot-resistant two-by-fours are okay). Use insulators anywhere the wire touches something.

That’s about it. I used to use metal T-posts at the corners, but I don’t do that anymore.

Lay out the wire around the perimeter of your fenced area, and add fenceposts. Tension the wire by moving the fenceposts in or out until the wire goes tight. The wire should be 4-6 inches off the ground. A second wire at about 10 inches is a nice touch but isn’t absolutely necessary.