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Melanie Morris

Electric fencing advice - what height?

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Hi, we are setting up to get our first flock of chickens in, and we need to invest in a decent electric fencing kit. We have a small paddock, so are going to electric fence off part of that, to give our new girls plenty of space to free range in safety. 

They will have an Eglu cube or raised wooden coop and small run attached within that larger elec fenced space (if I can win a bid on a second-hand Eglu!).

We have foxes prowling daily and I won't be able to watch the chickens all the time each day, so the electric fencing is essential. I have read so many varying reports on how high foxes can jump - anything up to 5ft if they can scrabble up apparently 😳 I have seen 2 heights of elec fencing kits on sale: 1.1m or 1.2m (4ft). The 4ft is alot more expensive, but my question is - would you spend on the taller fencing in my situation, ie when foxes are guaranteed? Or go for the less tall stuff as the elec current will stop them trying anyway? 

Any thoughts appreciated, thanks!

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I’ve seen them scrambling over our 6ft gate when i’ve turned a cold hose on them but only because they got their paws over the top.  We are looking at a double wire to go on top of our existing fencing but it would only be affective with concrete gravel boards that are dug in and they aren’t.  We own most of our fencing and it needs replacing so not looked at stand alone kits yet but may have to as our fence is long.      If I had to fence a smaller area of garden I’d probably go for the taller option.  If the other kit proves ineffective, you’ve wasted a lot of money.  

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Should have mentioned, the other reason for higher fencing is chickens are great escape artists and some can get over 5ft fence (lighter small breeds).  If you need to keep them grounded or at least off balance make sure you clip one wing

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I’ve had ex- batt hens escaping through anelectric fence with no problem.  The shock just made them get through faster!  So check not only the height but the size of the mesh.   I  decided that a WIR with small gauge weldmesh is the best deterrent. 

Edited by Patricia W

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Problem with electric netting kits is they sag between the posts, so the height quoted won't be achievable along most of it. There is also a big problem with the netting shorting to earth, made worse by vegetation. If you want a system that works properly you will need the same as us; galvanised mesh fitted to 6' posts with the bottom foot turned outwards. the mesh acts as the earth circuit and is surrounded on the outside by strands of electrified wire set at 9" and 18" from the ground with an additional wire set at the top of the fence to stop anything jumping onto the mesh and climbing over. Best to suspend the mesh from tight tensioned wires and have one at ground level; you can buy rings for this purpose. This means the fence mesh is quite loose and is a further deterrent to climbing. We had this in place for 5 years without problems in an area with foxes all around and are now constructing another one.

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Beantree, that’s the best advice I’ve seen re electric fences for chickens.  I think that would have even defeated  my escapee ex- bats! 

Edited by Patricia W

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Our chicken mesh has 30mm holes, but isn't that strong really. Great for keeping chickens in, but it can be torn through by anything powerful like a dog or fox. So it's important that the electric fencing is reliable and regularly checked using a tester at points all around. The earth circuit is great even in dry Summers because of the outward turned bottom skirt.

Takes a while to build an enclosure because our 3 tensioned wires strung from the corner posts are counterbalanced by wires to pegs in the ground outside the enclosure. Tensioning is done with double adjustable hook units. This means the posts take no real load and won't move, which is a problem here as the ground gets boggy and posts with any strain on them tip over. Our mesh was bought in England (far cheaper) and needs two rolls to cover the sides. Hang the top roll first then the bottom roll fixings go through both rolls (need an overlap). You will need a frame and mesh door in somewhere of course.

Easy to trim undergrowth under the bottom electrified line as well. For peace of mind and low maintenance the build effort is worth it. 

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Many thanks for all the advice, this is extremely helpful. It would be me constructing this on my own though, and I think it will be beyond me, so I would have to see what it would cost to get someone to construct it for me. I am on quite a small budget, so will have to do the maths! All worth knowing though, as this is a long-term investment, so all worth knowing.

I live in Surrey, near Guildford, so if anyone out there knows of a fencing firm anywhere in Surrey / Hants / Sussex that might do this at a reasonable price, please do let me know!

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