Electric Poultry Netting Advice

Electric Poultry Netting Advice

What is Electric Chicken Netting? Hints & Tips on using Electric Netting - the good, the bad and the not-so-pleasant.

What is Electric Poultry Netting?

Electric Chicken Fencing

Electric Netting is a 1.1m high flexible polywire mesh with built-in posts to stand it upright.

It sends a pulsing voltage through the wires that will repel predators.

Chicken netting is the ideal fencing option for keeping a few birds in a domestic setting or for larger free-ranging flocks, especially for those who prefer a flexible solution that can be moved and stored easily and has a low visual impact.

What do I need for an Electric Netting Set Up

Available in dark green to be unobtrusive, in 25m or 50m lengths, a 50m Electric Poultry Net 15 integral black flexible posts.

A roll of Poultry Netting includes:
15 Posts built into the net (9 posts in a 25m net)
Galvanised Ground Pegs
Small Repair Kit

You just need to add an Electric Fence Energiser, Metal Earthing Stake, a Lead-out Cable if using mains power, or a 12-volt Leisure Battery if opting for battery-power (available at Halfords-type outlets).

How Electric Poultry Netting works

Set up of Electric Poultry Netting (white)

The netting is manufactured as a polyurethane cord (plastic string) with metal filaments running through the horizontal strands (apart from the bottom baseline). This is intertwined with metal-spiked black plastic posts to keep it upright.

To electrify the fence, an electric fence energiser is connected to the net and to the ground via a Metal Earth Stake or Rod. This forms an open circuit. Some energisers now come with integral earth stakes which double up as mounting stands. However, we advise that for netting, a separate earth stake is used at least 1m long. An earth stake is essential to make any electric fence work.

When an animal comes into contact with the net, whilst its feet are on the ground (making it 'earthed'), it completes the electrical circuit and gets a shock. This is why the net does not need to be erected in a loop and can be placed in a straight line if required. The key, however, is to enclose and surround your chickens with an electrified barrier.

Foxes, like most animals, investigate unfamiliar additions to their environment, and it is at this point the shock is delivered. The electric fence energiser produces a high voltage pulse approximately once every second.

Although the net is not an insurmountable height, it is highly unlikely that a fox will attempt to jump that high, hence the need to prevent sagging. Once the animal has been shocked, the net becomes a psychological barrier and the animal will be unlikely to attempt to go further.

Using Poultry Netting effectively

Corner Post for Electric Netting

As the live lines of poultry netting are often very close to the ground, they are susceptible to 'leakage' (shorting).

The bottom line is not live because it touches the ground but all other horizontal lines are. Shorts happen where undergrowth touches live wires, thereby completing the loop and drawing power from the fence to the ground.

How many volts are needed to deter foxes?

We recommend you should have a reading of at least 3,000v on your chicken fence to provide an effective deterrent. The higher the joule rating on your energiser, the greater level of 'leakage' your system will cope with and still maintain an effective voltage. Using an Electric Fence Tester, or voltage meter is the best way to test this.

What are the most common problems with Electric Netting?

The most common problem is loss of voltage by poor earthing or something shorting out the fence.

Poor earthing is rectified by making sure your earth stake is pushed well down into the ground to give good contact with the earth - damp earth works best. You may have to water the earth stake in dry weather to maintain good contact with the damp soil. Remember, the ground is negative to the fence's positive.

The key to reducing shorting is trying to keep the live lines clear of external contacts e.g. grass, twigs, stones, trees, bushes, and wooden posts. This results in shorting out and loss of voltage.

It can be difficult, especially on the undulating ground as the bottom strand is effectively covering a shorter linear distance to the top line which causes the net to sag. You may need to add extra Flexible Netting Posts and/or Double Pronged Corner Posts to achieve better tension.

In some cases keeping the lowest line free from vegetation is too difficult so a more powerful energiser (more joules) may be needed, or, you could cut the lowest live line at the first and last post. You can reconnect if needed by using small Metal Ferrules.

What are the benefits of Electric Netting?

There is no doubt that Electric Fences do require monitoring and the voltage tested regularly. We have found it is a very cost-effective way to give your flock a huge amount of open space with a minimum investment.

For the space it provides, a non-electrified fence would need to be approx. 7ft high to keep out a fox and you can imagine how many fence panels or posts would be needed for an equivalent perimeter fence e.g. a 50m net has a perimeter of 50m which is 164ft.

It is easy to set up, once you get the hang of how to handle it. Many energisers can use either mains power or 12v battery if mains isn't available. Using mains power costs just a few pence a day.

It is portable, easy to take down and assemble elsewhere. It can be made into many shapes to suit your ground or layout. Just add more posts for the extra changes in direction.

What are the downsides to using Electric Netting?

The popularity of electric poultry netting in domestic settings has highlighted potential dangers for some small animals.

Amphibians and small mammals, like hedgehogs, have been known to get trapped while attempting to navigate through the lowest section of the net. In some cases hedgehogs have died as a result of receiving consistent multiple shocks as they cannot untangle themselves.

This problem can be resolved by erecting a low barrier in front of the net that they cannot navigate or by disconnecting the lowest line as outlined above.

Any electric fencing does require monitoring to ensure it is working as expected, but it is a cost effective fencing system for almost all creatures.

Main points

  • Plan where you are going to place the Netting and double check your perimeter measurements.
  • Choose level ground that is free of debris where possible and ensure any gaps at the base are filled in to prevent digging under.
  • Ensure you have the correct energiser for the length of poultry netting e.g. a 0.8 joule Energiser will be ideal for a 50m Net.
  • Keep the live wires free from anything not insulated from the ground (this includes wooden posts and trees).
  • Plastic is the only thing that will not create a short in the fence.
  • We recommend at least one independent earth stake.
  • If running from mains power use the correct HT Electric Fence Lead-Out Cable.
  • Link here for a wide selection of Electric Poultry Netting Kits from Flyte so Fancy.

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Electric Poultry Netting Advice ©Flyte so Fancy Ltd 2013. Author: Anne Weymouth. Reproduction of part or all of this text is only possible with the express permission of Flyte so Fancy Ltd.