One huge component of owning chickens is keeping them safe. We are likely to want to let our birds roam around, and if they do so freely, there is a risk that they become a tasty feast for some of the larger predators. With this in mind, I wondered how tall a chicken fence needed to be, at a minimum, to keep a flock safe while also preventing their escape.
So, how high does a chicken fence need to be? A chicken fence needs to be at least 6 feet tall (1.8m) to prevent your chickens from escaping, while also helping to keep predators out. Although, 8 feet and above is recommended. It is also advised to bury the fence at least 10 inches into the ground to prevent predators from digging underneath.
We are yet to mention the impressive abilities of chickens.
Most breeds are generally capable of jumping up to 5 feet! Even the larger breeds are quite nimble in this respect.
In fact, many owners have reported that their birds have managed to escape due to insufficient fences that they initially thought would suffice.
While it is unfortunate for those keepers, thankfully we can learn from them and ensure we do not do the same!
Let us now take a closer look at whether fencing is even necessary for these birds, before looking at the different types, and better options.
Do I Need To Fence In My Chickens?
It is generally recommended that you do fence in your chickens. This is not only to prevent them from wandering off but also to keep them in a better-protected area (and less vulnerable to predators).
Fencing serves as a physical boundary – to both your birds and to other animals, while also adding significant effort to anyone who would want to take it on.
Usually, this is enough to prevent any attempts!
But it does depend on the type of fencing that you do erect; standard garden fences for instance will do litter to deter a hungry fox (but more on this a little later).
Then there is your set up; and whether your chickens will be confined to a run or be given land to forage.
Of course, the more you let your chickens free roam, or the greater access to space they have, the greater the need for fencing. And more robust fencing at that.
Types of Chicken Fencing
There are several different types of chicken fencing that you can typically find for sale. Different options are made from different materials and as such, come with differing levels of protection.
The main ones you will often see are:
- Chicken wire (sometimes referred to as poultry netting)
- Hardware cloth,
- Welded mesh,
- Chain link fence,
- Electric fencing.
Let us now take a closer look at each one:
This is perhaps the most common type, and what you tend to imagine when you think of chicken fencing.
Its relatively resilient and durable, and often made of a galvanized metal such as iron or steel. It is generally lightweight yet sturdy, and as such is quite flexible to work with.
You can find chicken wire in different sizes and lengths, but common to them all is the hexagonal gaps which can be smaller or larger depending on the product.
Generally, the smaller the gaps the greater the fencing will be for keeping out smaller animals, or rodents such as mice.
Chicken wire is generally used for creating a boundary or preventing chickens from accessing certain areas (such as a vegetable patch).
Although, it will not prevent the larger, stronger predators such as foxes.
Hardware cloth is used by various industries, but many chicken keepers use it due to its strength and versatility.
Instead of having hexagonal gaps, hardware cloth has square gaps, which range in size depending on the product.
While you can sometimes find hardware cloth in plastic when keeping chickens the galvanized wire and metal mesh is more appropriate.
Welded mesh is perhaps the strongest type of wire that you can look to purchase, although you are giving up some flexibility when it comes to working with it.
Since it is so robust, it actually requires welding in order to work with and even to fix onto fencing structures.
It’s also relatively expensive compared to the other options, not only to buy, or to get a professional out to work with it.
For these reasons, it is not common for chicken keepers to use it. Although, it is an option if you are looking for the strongest type of fence possible.
Chain Link Fence
Chain link fencing is the type you often see around a tennis court, playground, or basketball court.
It is essentially strong wire that has been twisted together to form a strong and sturdy fence. Sometimes you will find it coated in plastic to help provide additional durability.
It is commonly used by chickens, other poultry keepers, and pet owners too.
It’s relatively cost-effective, tends to last a long time, and is effective against predators.
Again though, it often requires the expertise or assistance of a construction company to erect.
Electric fencing is a good option for many keepers; both for keeping chickens in and humanely keeping predators away.
Larger predators like foxes are not likely to attempt to jump it.
Instead, they have a preference to go through or climb; and the shock is usually enough of a deterrent to make them try their luck elsewhere.
This type of fencing will not harm a fox, but they and other predators will respect it, assuming that it is properly constructed and maintained.
At the same time, so long as you are getting an electric fence designed for poultry, it should not harm a chicken.
Again, the small shock will prevent them from going near it from then on.
It can also be powered by electricity or a battery, and often comes as a complete package when purchased.
Electric fencing is relatively versatile and can be moved to give chickens fresh ground.
What Is The Best Fencing For Chickens?
The best fencing for chickens will depend on the circumstances of the keeper. It depends on the setup, number of birds, whether the birds can free roam, and what predators are local to the area.
That being said, the safest option is a chain-link fence, that is at least 8 feet tall and above.
It will be expensive to erect, and it is somewhat of a permanent structure.
If you are looking for a more versatile option, then a reputable electric fence or a tall, strong, and galvanized mesh can work well.
In this instance, you would need to purchase the sturdiest fence posts and also consider the different elements; such as turning the top of the fence outwards and digging the fence at least 10 inches underground, and again turning it outwards.
When it comes to fencing for your chickens; being extra cautious should be encouraged.
Besides, there is nothing worse for a keeper than to find their flock perished.
There are many predators that we need to be vigilant of, and with a potential banquet on offer on our property, must ensure we do all that we can to stop this from happening.
So, it generally comes recommended to get the best quality fencing that you can afford.
You’ll also want to think carefully about how the fencing is constructed and positioned.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to take care of this yourself, but it may mean hiring some local professionals if you are not the handy type or have all the tools that you will need.
Ultimately, a 6-foot fence is a minimum you should be considering.
8 feet and above will, however, afford you much better security.
A 4-foot fence is generally not tall enough for chickens. Most breeds will be able to get over it, with relative ease, and even the larger breeds may attempt it.
Your average adult fox is often capable of getting over a 6-foot fence, although they are much more likely to dig underneath to conceal their presence. Installing electric fencing or burying chicken wire as much as 10 inches into the ground are useful and protective approaches.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.