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Electric Fence or Tractor?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Hey, everyone! I am brand new to this whole chicken thing, but I'm looking forward to having fresh eggs in a few months! I'm getting my 6 chicks on Monday, and I need to figure out what I'm going to do in a few weeks when they're old enough to go outside. I like the idea of a portable enclosure because I want the chickens to be able to graze as much as possible. I'm debating between a chicken tractor or an electric fence enclosure. 


Does anyone use electric fences on a small scale? What I would absolutely love to do is make an enclosure from 50 feet of electric poultry net (from premier 1), power it with a solar energizer, and let the chickens live freely inside of their 150ish square feet of paradise. I would be able to move this around easily as often as necessary. I live in the suburbs of Louisville, and I have not seen any birds that would be big enough to pick up a full grown chicken (though I know they exist). I would cover the enclosure with a tarp for a while they are young and smaller.


Is this a crazy idea? If not, what kind of shelter would I need to build for them to sleep and lay in (nothing fancy, I prefer minimalism)? I have heard that they can fly out, but I have also heard that they won't try to if they grow up in an electric enclosure.


The fence will cost me about $100, the energizer between @100-200, and I would like to build a shelter for under $50 (just for sleeping and laying). I realize that I could build a nice tractor for this cost, but the fence would give them so much more space. Also, the fence can be made into whatever shape needed.


The only downside I see for the fence is the possibility of aerial predator attack. What other downsides am I missing?

post #2 of 3

I'd recommend both the tractor and electric net together. That way you can lock the birds up at night and let them range inside the fence during the day. You'll want something to mount the energizer to anyway....unless you are buying one of Premier1's suitcase energizers$$$$$. The net is good stuff, but my birds fly over it all the time. I even had an orpington that could clear it with one wing clipped. She was a determined gal.


Wandering dogs are my main predator out here, so I've retired the netting and gone to a permanent fence with a solid hot wire at nose height. I've had a crafty dog slip underneath my net this past fall and killed almost all of my girls. the bottom strand of the nets is not powered.


Don't skimp on the energizer.

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the help! Having both is a good idea. Did your chickens start out with the electric fence? I heard from someone that if they start in the fence when they're done brooding then they wont try to fly over.

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