If you live in a suburban area or within city limits, you may be excited at the thought of finally being able to legally acquire a few backyard hens for egg production and companionship. For those who don't have much backyard room to dedicate to an expansive coop, having a small nesting box and allowing your chickens to roam freely around your property may be the best choice—but investing in solid and predator-proof fencing is key to keeping your new pets safe. What are your best fencing options for backyard chickens? Read on to learn more about your most budget-friendly options.
Possibly your least expensive fencing option that's perfect for chickens, chain-link fences have small enough openings to keep chickens in and neighborhood dogs, foxes, and even coyotes out. Having a chain-link fence may even eliminate your need to weed-eat around the perimeter of the fence, as your chickens will eat the tall grass from these edges. Your chickens will also have the advantage of a fresh cross-breeze through your yard and the ability to see potential predators coming from far away. Chain-link fencing is inexpensive and can be quickly installed by a contractor (or, with the right digging equipment, a homeowner who enjoys DIY projects).
If you choose this option, you'll want to ensure your chickens have several areas around the yard to which they'll be able to retreat if faced with any threats from outside the fence or above (like hawks and owls). Not only will this keep your chickens safe by allowing them to escape potential danger, but it will help them feel more secure when roaming free around your yard.
Solid pine or cedar fencing
Having solid fencing can give your backyard a charming and sophisticated appearance while providing your chickens with a sense of security. The ability to physically block the line of sight (and scent) from your chickens can make them less likely to fall prey to neighborhood wildlife, and they'll be protected from even tiny raccoon hands capable of reaching through just about any crack or crevice. You may opt for a simple fence of solid vertical slats or a privacy fence that alternates boards to allow you to see out (but not in). This type of fence can often improve your property value as well as provide your chickens with a safe place to roam.
Although chickens aren't flying birds, they are able to jump and flutter surprisingly high when startled—so it's important to ensure you've trimmed any tree branches and moved any other items they could use as a starting point to hop over the fence. A branch just a few feet off the ground can often be enough to allow a chicken to clear a high fence. By that same token, you'll want to cut tree branches or other features animals could use to access the fenced-in portion of your yard from outside.
Electric net fencing
Unlike the electric fences used for cattle or horses, this fencing is in net form—similar in appearance to a chain-link fence but with larger squares and a current of electricity strong enough to deter just about any potential intruders. Once your chickens have gotten a shock or two from your fence, they'll learn to steer clear, and that will protect them from the reach of hands too small or too clever to set off the electric shock.
Electric net fencing is often available in portable form, allowing you to get the feel of this type of fencing before committing to it by digging post holes and enlisting a contractor for installation. If your chickens deal well with this fencing, you may want to consider expanding it to the entire perimeter of your yard.
Talk to a company such as All Counties Fence and Supply for more information about these options.