Why you should get electric fencing to protect poultry
PUBLISHED: 16:46 10 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:12 30 October 2020
Electric fencing can provide valuable extra protection for your poultry
I will never forget the first time I had to deal with the aftermath of a fox attack on my chickens — or indeed any of the times that it has happened since over the years. Losing your precious flock in this way is brutal on so many levels and a stark reminder — if ever one were needed — that it is essential to shore up defences against this form of attack happening again in the future.
The fact is that even if you have followed the recommended advice on fox-proofing your chicken fencing, over time it can easily weaken and said opportunistic predator will find its way in.
Alongside the usual wear and tear, the excess of rain the UK has experienced over the past few winters and the subsequent sodden ground can result in the fencing that has been carefully dug down into the ground coming loose.
When you then consider that a sly fox will likely prowl past your poultry pens every evening, you realise that it only takes the slightest opportunity and an extra-determined creature will find its way in. Once, during the night, we had a fox dig under a fence and then again under the ground into a poultry pen. He wiped out a number of birds in an area we had previously considered to be safely secured.
It is therefore no wonder that many smallholders turn to an altogether more electric option when it comes to the safeguarding of their hens. It is a case of once bitten, twice shy in terms of relying on traditional methods, and so an electric fencing solution can provide the peace of mind poultry owners are looking for. Whether it is a moveable electric fence, which enables you to graze poultry on different areas of a field (or garden) safely throughout the year, or a more permanently-placed solution to outwit Mr (or Mrs) Fox, then there are many kits from which to choose.
Here is a look at just some of the best options currently available.
Moveable fencing can be useful when it comes to enabling your flock to access different areas of your land safely. As Jane Smith from Solway Feeders has said: "It's ideal where hens are concerned because you can clear areas of weeds and also stop the ground from becoming too barren. It can be more economical than fixed fencing depending on how many birds and how much ground you have. One of the main reasons for using it is to deter foxes."
Meriel Younger from Electric Fencing Direct also explains: "If you have a small amount of land you need to manage it to maintain it and get the most out of it. Electric fencing is a cost-effective way to do this. Most paddocks are fenced with stock fencing around the perimeter, but if you want to subdivide a field temporarily over the summer or winter, you wouldn't want to go to the expense of buying or spending the time installing stock fencing. Electric fencing that is easy to move and quick to put up is the answer."
A fixed option
www.electric-fence.co.uk sells a wide range of electric and non-electric netting and wider accessories. A spokesperson for the company said: "Poultry are some of the more challenging animals to keep. Their thin legs and insulated beak and feathers mean a powerful energiser with a high voltage output and high shock strength is recommended. The same powerful energiser acts as an effective deterrent to predators."
The company recommends its VOSS.farming farmNET+ as offering the best protection for chickens against foxes and other predators. The spokesperson adds: "It's a perfect height [112cm] and is extremely stable, with 20 extra-strong fibreglass posts. This particular netting will endure all weather conditions and has special head insulators which ensure that your net will remain tensioned. The tighter mesh at the bottom prevents small animals from getting through: for example, mink, ferrets, stoats and weasels. Badgers are very strong animals and if they are hungry they will get into any chicken house which isn't secure. Although they work alone, a badger will kill and take one chicken and will return the next time it's hungry. The tight mesh at the bottom also offers ideal protection against foxes as they tend to want to dig under the net. It also prevents mice and rats from getting in and stealing eggs and this form of netting is also ideal if your terrain is uneven or very
● Tip 1: Height is arguably what makes a difference, but if a predator has a way to jump over the net using an elevated position nearby (stump, stone or tree) then not even the tallest net will save your chickens.
● Tip 2: If you are planning to extend your fence and add more netting in the future, make sure that your energiser supports it. Some can power only two nets, others as many as 15.
www.electric-fence.co.uk also offers advice to anyone unsure what they might need. Contact the team with a few pictures of your setup via firstname.lastname@example.org and customer service will devise a custom quote.
Other equipment worth considering
Battery life can be variable as it depends on a number of factors, so a tester is an essential piece of kit at its most basic level. In addition, you can also buy more advanced gadgets which let you know when there is a fault in the power to the fence and where you need to look.
With the amount of sunshine the UK has enjoyed this year, this could be a very sensible option. With solar technological advances, batteries will charge much more effectively than ever before and they don't require direct sunlight in order to work. It is definitely an environmentally-sound option worth considering.
Another idea in the battle against attack from other predators is to purchase an ultra-sonic sound-emitting device to install in your poultry run. Although not recommended as the only line of defence, they can help deter cats, weasels and other creatures. They work by sending out a high frequency sound above 20,000Hz, which has been shown to help deter pesky visitors without impacting negatively on the birds themselves (which are sensitive to sounds up to 2,000Hz range, but not above). www.electric-fence.co.uk sells a couple of options (the VOSS.sonic 2200 or VOSS.sonic 360).