Chicken Fencing

There are a number of options when it comes to chicken fencing. All need to achieve two things though:

  1. Keep predators out (mainly the Fox in the UK but also Badgers in some areas).
  2. Keep your chickens where you want them.

The first is of course the highest priority to keep your chickens safe, I am happy to lose the odd plant if an escapee wanders onto the vegetable patch, this is soon forgotten about but discovering birds with their heads removed and bodies half buried is something you don’t forget for a long time, if at all.

So what are the options when it comes to fencing chickens? One of the best solutions for me has been an electric fence but this does come at a cost and requires regular maintenance. There is more information on the different kinds of electric fences on my Electric Fence page and kits can be purchased online such as this one.

Chicken Wire

The good old fashioned way is to use galvanised chicken netting or rabbit wire as it is called in the trade. This needs to be at least 6 foot high and I say this because I have seen a fox leap up and scramble over the top of a 5 foot high chicken run fence when I found him inside one of my runs one morning. Wire needs to be buried in the ground about 8 inches, ideally 12 to be completely safe but if you bend the wire out, you can normally burry it 6 inches with a 6 inch overlap. If you are on sandy soil that is easier to dig, I would consider improving the depth of your chicken fencing.

chicken fencing

Boarding to secure chicken fencing at the bottom in addition to burying wire

Another option for securing the base further is to use boards around the base. This helps to keep any substrate inside the run (such as sand, gravel, or wood chips) but also secures the vulnerable bottom edge of the netting that is likely to get tugged and pulled at by a fox or badger and keeps the fencing rigid.

If, like me, you like your chicken run to look attractive, you can of course grow things up the outside of the fencing. I have in the past used a grape vine but the same could be done with many different climbing plants. Try to tie the plant to the wire, rather than threading it through to stop it from damaging the wire when it grows and rubs during the wind.

If chicken fencing is weak, foxes can and will tear at it to try to get in. If the wire isn’t taght or if there are weak points, don’t wait – fix it!

If you can’t find a local supplier of poultry wire – you may be able to find something suitable here.

Chicken Netting

Chicken fencing can be fairly straight forward if you are around during the daytime and don’t have a fox problem and would like to keep your chickens in a designated area. Omlet sell some chicken fencing that is a handy sized poultry netting complete with poles. This is a great idea as it allows you to easily change the shape and position of the chicken run to provide fresh pasture for them. It keeps your hens where you want them but remember this isn’t fox proof or electrified so should only be used to keep chickens in a given area when there isn’t a fox problem or when you’re around.

It is really good news for gardeners as you don’t want the chickens scratching up your beds or eating your new plants! If you turn this idea on its head, you can also use this netting to keep your chickens OFF your vegetables or garden by fencing the area off to stop them getting in!

It comes with a gate so that you can still get in and out with ease. There’s more information on the Omlet web page that you can reach by clicking the image below:

53 Comments

  1. hello, i am getting 3 goldline chickens soon and i have the omlet chicken netting and i was wondering how big i should make the space where i put the netting? thank you.

  2. Firstly: LOVE this page!

    Starting up with 3 bantams and a “pet maran” in a few weeks time. The garden is about 0,5 acre, and I want the chickens to enjoy this space for a few hours every day. The run is about 8 sq.m.

    But: How tall does the garden fence need to be to keep my ladies inside the garden? I live in Norway, so we don’t have the same fox-problem as in UK.

    • It depends on the breed. Flighty mediteranean breeds can fly well but larger fowl won’t = so I guess between 0.5 meters and 1.8 meters!

  3. Hi, we’re in the process of building a run for our first chicken venture, 5.5m x 2.5m. Would the gavansed wire fencing which has 2 inch square holes (or possibly larger holes) be suitable? Thanks for the hepfull advice on the site.

    • Yes, it’s fine for fencing, however it does depend on the predators in your area. Badgers and large foxes for example are capable of tearing and wire so if there are lots of these around and your run is exposed then it might be better to put a stronger mesh or double layer at the lower level.

  4. This site is fantastic for us new-bees.

    I have just purchased a coop with suspended nest box’s and run attached (for 5 hens). I am getting 3 ex-bats that I hope will be in the coop when I’m not around and have the whole garden to roam when I am. Not only do I have fox’s but I have badgers too. Will my girls be safe at night/day or should I attach more wire and dig into the gound?

    • Umm hard to say without seeing the setup. I would certainly dig in the wire around the run to be on the safe side although the main risk comes at night.

  5. Morning,
    I have just purchased a coop (cocoon 2190) and hoping to keep 2 maybe 3 hens.
    Im overwheled with info everywhere and just need to know what basic equpment I need in the coop and to get started.
    Thankyou

    • Well, have a read of my page on Chicken Coops. A nest box, perches and pop hole are required and ventillation (but not draughts) is essential.
      Outside the coop you’ll need feeder, water container and grit hopper. That’s about it!

  6. HI, we have 7 chickens which would constantly lay and now after3 years we are only getting one egg a day (a white egg) from the youngest white hen. We notice some chickens are eating the eggs but we can not tell if they are smashing them deliberately as any eggs that do come out are coming out very fragile. We have given them different food to strengthen their eggs but we are wondering now could they be finishing their lay stage? we have 7 different types of chickens. 2-3 year olds. when do they stop laying? and how long do they live for? thanks

    • As hens get older, they lay less (approx 10% less per year I’d say) and thin egg shells and more watery white can be a problem, especially when it comes to egg eating which is a really hard vice to break.

      I would say that they will continue to lay next year but at a slightly reduced rate to this year… Egg eating is really tricky once they are hanging around to break the eggs. I would try this:

      Dark as possible nest boxes – tack a feed back over the top 2/3 of the nest boxes and cut it into a few strips so hens can still get in.
      Place Golf balls or dummy eggs around the floor and nests so that hens try to break them and don’t have success.
      Remove eggs as soon as possible from the nest boxes once laid.
      Part Blow an egg and add curry powder to it or mustard so the egg eater dislikes the content.

      If all else fails, try removing the egg eaters for a while to break the habbit and then re-introduce them, or fit roll away nest boxes…

  7. Hi, I’m thinking about keeping a few chickens at some point in the near future and have been reading your site (really helpful by the way!) Regarding a run, wondered if it would be a good idea to take the turf off the area where the run is going, put some netting on the ground, attach it to the upright fencing then put the turf back over the ground wire? Just as an added security measure against predators but so the wire isn’t in the way of the chickens.

    • Yes, you could do that although it only really needs to be around the edges and unless it is a very big run, you will probably find the grass soon turns to mud which is not the best environment as it is bad for worms and bacteria.

      It is best to use 6 inches of wood chips or sand in the run.

      Fencing chickens is different in every situation and it is sensible to look at all of the options. If you do it right from the start, it can save you a lot of heart ache later on.

  8. Hi, I have recently got 4 hens which I keep locked up at night and whilst at work in there coop and ample run, in my back garden. However i like to them them roam the garden once I get home from work. My garden is enclosed completely by a fence between 4 and 5 foot fence, they have not yet tried to fly over the fence. Will they try and fly over as they maybe grow in confidence or is there a good chance they wont bother?? thanks.

    • Once they get used to their surroundings, unless they are startled, they usually stop flying out so I would say no.

  9. We are wondering whats the best way to go in constructing a chicken run, we have predators like fox and mink. What do you suggest as run , chicken wire with a height of 6 ft, with roof or without roof to stop predators ? or electric fencing? and does the electric interfere with there nature?
    regards and thanks, Andrew

    • Electric fencing works well for me but you do need to remember it needs to be on at all times – a flat battery for example causing the fence to turn off can soon lead to a fox getting in. People say they can sense when a fence is off and have lost birds at these times. The electric fence does not harm animals – it is high voltage but very low current so it is not enough to kill. It pulses approximately once per second so is a short sharp shock. What it does is cause the muscles to contract and that is the unpleasant part. Electric poultry netting is potentially dangerous to hedgehogs if they can get trapped in it. Their reaction is to curl up and then they can get stuck and keep receiving a shock. I have heard of one or two sad cases of hedgehogs becoming trapped where poultry netting was not kept taught.

      6ft fence with roof of course would be ideal but is a lot of work over a large area so I would always go for a larger area for your birds given the choice.

  10. Hi
    Just contemplating getting 3 or 4 chickens (hybrids) again after a break of a few years and yet another change of lifestyle! Thinking about fence height, there is no likelyhood of a fox getting into my garden, can I get away with something much lower than 6′ as long as a wing is clipped? They would never be out of the coop (with small run) unless I was at home

    • If they are safe from foxes, yes. I used to keep chickens behind 4ft post and rail fencing. Once they settled, they didn’t fly out.

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