Do you want to keep your chickens safe from predators or prevent your beloved flock from escaping and wreaking havoc upon your neighbor’s lawn and garden?
Then you need a secure chicken fence of the perfect height!
That’s why many of my fellow homesteading friends ask about the ideal height for a backyard chicken fence. How high should a chicken fence be?
I’m naturally paranoid about predators attacking my chickens, so I say the higher and more secure the chicken fence, the better.
But how high of a chicken fence do you need? The ideal height depends on three critical factors – including the nature of your flock!
The Three Big Chicken Fence Height Factors
- Predators – How many predators prowl in your area?
- The Nature of Your Flock – You know your flock better than anyone. Are they docile? Flighty? Calm? Adventurous? Rebellious? Most importantly – have you ever seen them fly?
- Traffic – Do you live in a busy neighborhood? How likely are your chickens to cross the road – at their peril?
Let’s take a much closer look at the following three risk factors your flock faces. We’ll also discuss how the risk factors can help reveal the ideal height of your chicken fence.
Predators are probably the biggest threat to your chickens. Predators are also the top reason you should consider a tall, secure chicken fence.
What is the prevalence of chicken coop predators in your area? The risk varies for every coop.
If you have many wild cats and raccoons around your backyard, you need a fence of at least 5-6 feet! Also, ask yourself if you’ve seen any of the following known chicken predators in your neck of the woods.
Infamous Chicken Predators
- Weasels (They love eggs. Beware!)
- Rats (They also want your hen’s eggs!)
- Fisher Cats
- Snakes (Dangerous chicken egg thieves!)
- Wild or domestic cats
- Wild or domestic dogs
Your region may also have unique critters that happily feast upon the eggs of your chickens or baby chicks. What local creatures lurk nearby? Consider your risk.
2. The Nature of Your Flock
Some chickens are much livelier and more adventurous than others.
How active, flighty, and energetic are your chickens?
Do your hens stay next to their coop during the day? Or, do you find your chooks foraging far beyond your yard and invading your neighbor’s vegetable garden?
Your neighbors don’t want a feathery invader pecking where they’re uninvited! So, if your chickens have a knack for flight, love to explore, and demand a free-range lifestyle, then I recommend a fence of at least 6 feet.
3. What About Traffic in Your Neighborhood?
When my friends ask me about the best chicken fence height, I always inquire about their neighborhood.
Do you have much traffic on your road? Is your chicken at risk of getting hit by oncoming traffic if it escapes?
If you live on a busy street or in an urban area, then it’s much more of an issue if your lovely chickens run out into the road.
If your neighborhood is busy, then I recommend a chicken fence of at least 6 feet – maybe more. You may have noticed that I always recommend a chicken fence of at least 6 feet.
Here’s why I think that tall chicken fences are a genius idea.
The Best Chicken Fence Height for Backyard Chickens
I contend that a chicken fence around 6 feet high is the perfect height in most situations – even if you live in the middle of nowhere.
Why 6 feet? Isn’t that overkill?
Well, various wild animals and predators would love to steal your chickens. Even as you read this article, eager predators could be spying on your flock and licking their chops!
Some chicken keepers, gardeners, and homesteaders say that your chicken fence (and chicken run) need only be a few feet tall.
I think that a chicken fence that’s only 2-4 feet tall is better than nothing, but not by much.
Many foxes, raccoons, bobcats, and coyotes can clear a 2 or 3-foot chicken fence like they were training for an Olympic medal. Some chicken predators also seem to have 10x more spunk when they detect a hot lunch (like baby chicks) on their radar.
Chicken keepers beware!
Ideal Chicken Fence Height Ranges
I recommend 6-foot or over to keep your flock safe. But, if you don’t want a 6-foot high chicken fence, you have other options.
2 – 4 Foot Chicken Fence
A fence in this range offers moderate protection against predators, especially if you grab a chicken fence of at least 4 feet high. You also get some protection to prevent your chickens from escaping.
But make no mistake. Even low-flying chooks, lazy hens, and famously docile breeds could likely find their way over your chicken fence if it’s only 2-4 feet tall.
If you’re a homesteader on a budget and can’t afford much else, then a chicken fence of this height is better than nothing. However, it’s not ideal – especially if you have an assortment of predatory critters lurking around your backyard hen house.
Best 2 – 4 Foot Chicken Fencing:
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4 – 6 Foot Chicken Fence
4 to 6 feet is the sweet zone for chicken fences. In this height range, you offer slightly more resistance to your energetic chicken breeds who are itching to fly the coop or wander off foraging.
A chicken fence of this height is also a formidable barrier to help block hungry and savvy predators from unwelcome entry.
However, you shouldn’t have a false sense of security. Eager raccoons and wild cats can still potentially make short work of this fence and access your chickens.
6 Foot and 6 Foot+ Chicken Fencing (Fort Knox for Chickens)
A sturdy chicken fence of this height will deter many predators who wish to dine upon your feathery flock.
If your homestead boasts a fancy coop of chickens or beloved birds that you can’t live without, then a fence over 6 feet offers the best possible protection for your chickens.
This chicken fence height is doubly perfect if your flock features flighty chicken breeds that might act jumpy now and again.
You could also build custom chicken fencing using privacy fencing, chain link fencing, stockade fencing, welded wire fencing – or any sturdy fence that you wish.
Just about any tall, sturdy fence will help keep land-dwelling predators outside – and your chickens inside.
Chicken Fence FAQs
I’ve spent a ton of time around these beautiful birds, and I love discussing the most common chicken fence questions with my homesteading pals.
Please find my best poultry fence and chicken keeping tips and answers below!
What’s the Best Material for Chicken Fencing?
There are a few popular options, and each has its pros and cons. Here is a list of the most popular materials for chicken fencing.
- Plastic Poultry Netting – An economical option for an easy and quick chicken fence. Plastic netting can help contain your chickens adequately enough. But, if set up improperly, it doesn’t provide much defense against coyotes, foxes, wolves, bobcats, raccoons, et cetera. Where to buy plastic poultry netting
- Metal Poultry Netting – Slightly more expensive than plastic poultry netting, but still affordable! Metal poultry netting offers reasonable defense against predators – and it’s surprisingly light and easy to install. Where to buy metal poultry netting
- Hardware Cloth – Affordable option if you want to build a custom chicken pen or chicken fence. Ensure the mesh is small enough so snakes, weasels, possums, and rats can’t easily sneak through! Where to buy hardware cloth
- Welded Wire – A sturdy option if you want to seal up some loose ends in your chicken run, secure some weak points in your chicken fence, or if you need a custom chicken wire fence. Where to buy welded wire fencing
- Chain Link Fencing – One of the best options to keep your chickens safe from dogs, wolves, coyotes, and foxes. If you choose chain link fencing, add some of this privacy screen to keep your chickens hidden from predators!
- Stockade Fencing – Tall stockade fences make for one of the best chicken barriers. Here’s a chicken fence that can keep out nearly any land-based predator. However, stockade fences can be expensive to purchase and install.
Why Do My Chickens Try to Leave My Yard?
Asking why your chickens leave in the first place is the best question to ask!
Chickens are naturally curious and they may wander outside of their assigned area without actually meaning to “leave” the yard. My chickens love to forage all over and they can wander quite far! At night, every single one returns to the coop; they have a great sense of direction!
Sometimes, chickens can try to leave the yard if they’re experiencing stressful circumstances. Consider the following questions if you want to evaluate the health and wellbeing of your flock.
- Does your flock have enough room to stretch, scratch, explore, and peck freely?
- Is there enough room in your chicken coop?
- Is your coop clean?
- Are there pests in your coop?
- Is there plenty of fresh grass for your chickens to forage?
- Have your chickens been startled by nearby predators? Nothing stresses your flock as much as an undesirable dinner guest! We get a lot of snakes around the place and there’s no way the chickens return to the coop if there is a snake hanging around in there…
If your chickens have a calm environment, food, water, and a clean – safe coop, they’ll most likely have no reason to escape. Except for the explorer-chicken, that is. She’ll find a way unless your fencing is up to scratch!
Also read: How to Keep Chickens Out of My Yard (if the neighbor’s chickens keep invading your yard!)
Should I Clip the Wings of My Chickens?
Clipping your chicken’s wings is a personal call. But, there is one danger of clipping the wings of your chicken. What happens if a hungry predator gets inside your yard – and then your chicken is unable to defend itself or fly away?
If that happened, it would break my heart to see!
So, I think that maybe it’s best to leave your chicken wings unclipped. The decision is yours. Regardless, I always advise that you supervise your chickens when outside of the coop. Watch over and guard your flock!
To learn if you should clip you’re chicken’s wings, and how to do it, check out How to Clip My Chicken’s Wings so It Can’t Fly (and Whether You Should)
Can I Buy Chickens Online?
Yes! Tractor Supply and Lehman’s sell chickens in the spring. They have a ton of healthy chicks ready to buy online. They are adorable and looking for a family!
The above list is just scratching the surface as to the chicken breeds you can raise. Tractor Supply has a ton of chicks for sale. Check their website for live chick availability in your area!
Can Chickens Fly? If Not, Then Why Do I Need a Tall Chicken Fence?
Contrary to popular belief, chickens can fly! However, they’re not very good flyers – not compared to most other birds.
Some chicken keepers and homesteaders debate whether all chickens can fly – and why some chickens aren’t good flyers whatsoever.
Many modern egg-laying hens are the product of selective breeding. Commercial chicken farmers look for chickens with plump meat and delicious eggs. The chicken’s ability to fly isn’t high on the priority list of most chicken farmers!
You’ll also notice that chickens have relatively small wings compared to their round bodies – they’re not aerodynamically effective flyers, even on a good day.
Young, agile chickens can fly reasonably well enough to land atop your chicken fence, that’s for sure.
As chickens get older and lazier, they’re less likely to forage, explore, and adventure.
Can Chickens Fly Over My Fence?
However, remember that a chicken usually won’t fly out of your yard unless it has a good reason.
Sometimes, chickens even fall in love with their coops and don’t venture far beyond their chicken runs or enclosed playpens – especially if they enjoy your company.
Will a Chicken Fence Keep Black Bears Out?
The problem with black bears is that they’re expert climbers – much better than most people think. Black bears are also crazily athletic and run 30 miles per hour.
No fence is high enough to prevent a hungry, determined black bear. Black bears also possess tremendous strength and raw power – good luck trying to lock them out.
If a black bear has its eyes set upon your flock, then you might want to consider adding an electric fence to your arsenal.
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I know that a lot of my chicken-raising friends loathe the idea of electric fences. I understand!
However, electric fences are one of few ways to deter a black bear away from chickens effectively.
Tips for Keeping Black Bears Away From Chickens
- Don’t leave any extra chicken feed around your backyard – bears love seeds
- Never leave your chickens unattended in your backyard overnight – keep your chooks nestled safely in their coop
- Consider adding a barn-door lock to your chicken coop at night – this lock might not protect against a determined bear but can hopefully give your chickens time to raise the alarm
- Tuck away any hummingbird food or bird feeders at night – black bears adore the sweet scent of hummingbird food and happily guzzle it by the gallon
- If you barbeque a lot, make sure to clean your grill afterward, so there aren’t any enticing aromas lingering in the area
The idea is to keep a tidy backyard and remove excess foodstuff that attracts black bears.
The last thing you want is for a black bear to initially find a delicious bird feeder stuffed with sweet bird suet – only to discover a flock of plump chickens moments later!
How Can I Keep Foxes Out of My Poultry Run or Chicken Fence?
Foxes look cool on YouTube but make no mistake. They seek to devour your flock – especially your newly-hatched chicks! Even worse, foxes are sly devils and tend to show up when least expected.
If you have clever foxes trying to run away with your feathery friends, then there are a few tricks at your disposal.
- First, make sure that the fox can’t easily dig under your fence. If you’re constructing a new chicken fence, you can bury your fence 6 to 12 inches below the soil’s surface to make it more difficult for the fox to borough underneath.
- Is your fence already in place? No worries. You can attach a 2-3 foot layer of welded wire mesh onto the outside of your chicken fence and bury the mesh 6 – 12 inches deep. Try to bury the mesh at a slight angle toward the outside, so it’s harder for pesky invaders to dig underneath and access your flock.
- For tighter security, consider adding a layer of big, heavy bricks along the fence’s exterior perimeter to make it even more difficult for a clever fox, dog, or coyote to dig under your fence.
One More Vital Chicken Fence Tip!
Many chicken keepers think that once you raise a chicken fence – that your chickens are automatically safe.
That’s not true!
Foxes, wolves, and birds of prey will always seek a way to devour your beloved chickens. Your flock depends upon you for safety. Many cunning beasts possess surprising patience and will wait for the perfect opportunity to pounce on your chickens.
Don’t let your guard down!
Remember that some predators come from the sky, like hawks, owls, and eagles. That’s another reason that you should keep your eye on your flock at all times.
Don’t leave your flock unattended while foraging outside of their coops or enclosed area – and don’t let them down!
Thanks so much for reading this guide!
Please leave a comment below if you have questions, comments, or cute and funny stories about your backyard chickens.
Most of all – please let me know if you’ve seen your chickens fly!
Have a great day – and happy farming!
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