Electric fences and small animals/chicks


11 Years
Aug 4, 2010
San Diego
I was just curious, I don't have a yard to fence right now, but I have been reading a lot about electric fences here on BYC. I was wondering if these fences would kill small animals like killdeer chicks or ducklings who might touch it? Is it just unpleasant to them or can it hurt or kill "innocent" babies.

I am thinking about what to do in the future (however far off it might be) when I get a house and start raising poultry and I love little killdeer babies (who would be very welcome and encouraged to nest in my yard) and I would hate that a duckling might touch it and get hurt.
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Well it hasn't been my experience that it's hurtful to birds. My chickens themselves have touched it & of course will give a bit of chatter but it wasn't a problem. The electric fence here is to keep predators out not the chickens in. The fence around my backyard (about 1/2 acre) is a split rail with wire so it fades into the back ground & then along the top is the electric fence. Originally I had issues with black bears & so I'd had a few strings strung around the chicken coop & the enclosure that's attached to it I would keep the chickens in the enclosure during the day unless my husband & I were both home or again I'd have black bears in the back yard eating my chickens. Anyway I did that until hubby had the opportunity to clear the fence of brush & then we ran the electric tape/wire areound the top of it. Being zapped is not pleasant but it'll only happens once. If it's just a feather touching or hair there's no zap it has to be a real stepping on or a grabbing of the wire tape for the animal to get zapped. I've had my golden retrievers sitting with their tail hair on it or the hair will brush it & nothing but if they tryto go under the tape it's going to connect wth the body & they'll get a zap which will only happen once. This has worked great at keeping out the bears, fox etc but it doesn'twork with the hawks which are also an on going issue. They don't often perch on top of the wire or tape & I'm not sure I've ever seen any of my ducks touch it. I wouldn't use it to keep the chickens in I would just use a regular fence for them....
Hope this helpped some.
Yes, what you said has helped.

Where I live and plan to move one day, there are tons upons tons of coyotes and bobcats and I would want to keep those out, but if a killdeer decided to nest in my yard I wouldn't want it to get zapped as the babies "escape" after hatching. Nor would I want a baby duck to get hurt if he accidentally got too close to it. Both may be too light to trigger it, anyway. But, I would want the coyotes (and/or domestic dogs/cats) to steer clear.
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My idiot ducks crawl right through my electric mesh fencing if they are highly motivated. I think their feathers insulate them from the brunt of the charge. I have never had any birds injured by the fence itself, although I have had some frog/toad fatalities from the fence.
It depends on the fence.

We have Premier Electronet, have used it two years. We have had two fatalities. One cockerel got caught in it and hung upside down while we were away from home. One pullet got wings and neck tangled in it at ground level while we were away from home. These birds were about half grown. Out of hundreds of birds, the percentage is not bad, but if you have zero tolerance for fence caused deaths, it may not be for you.

We have had no wildlife fatalities, though I have heard of snakes getting caught and we have found lots of poop piles around the outside of the fence in early spring. We assume predators get shocked and kind of loose control....

In our area, the fence is a requirement, as mink, fox, weasels, skunks, coyotes, racoons, owls, bobcats, oppossums, etc. have killed any bird that gets out of the fence during the night time hours. We want the birds on pasture, and this fence provides a level of protection.
Thanks! That would make sense that if a chicken or other bird caught tangled on the fence for a long time they would probably die.

In our backcountry, I rarely see electric fences even though I know they exist, probably away from public view. Instead, they use tall barbed-wire fences with large holes or chicken wire in the middle. I guess it works because I rarely hear of livestock fatalities from coyotes and mountain lions out there. But, I'm not sure how their backyard and free ranging chickens or ducks are protected. The large chicken ranches keep everything indoors in tight facilities--no free ranging at all.

I think one of the cattle and sheep ranchers or two have electric fences in one community. I don't know how strong they are and I'm not going to touch one to find out.
Can you adjust the amount of power going through the fence?

I've never seen a charger with any type of "adjustment", but there are lots of different power ratings for chargers themselves.

Get one that "pulses", and that is strong enough for the amount of fencing you have, and don't worry too much about it hurting birds​

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