To Electric-Fence or Not To Electric-Fence?

by Daisy

a yellow electric danger warning symbol on white

When I was a kid, my dad strung an electric fence around our horse pasture.

It was seldom electrified, so I suppose the horses learned pretty quickly to avoid it. I don’t ever remember the horses getting out, so I’d call it a success.

I will also never forget the feeling of grabbing ahold of an electrified wire. It’s difficult to describe, but if you’ve ever done it, you can attest that it’s an electrifying experience.

I’ve been toying with the idea of a short raccoon/possum/fill-in-the-blank-pest electric fence. It would surround the chicken coop and run and part of the garden area. If it worked, I could surround other garden areas as well.

If it didn’t work, I’d have a pretty expensive experiment on my hands.

From my research into the subject, a 3-wire system, or something along those lines, beginning 4-6 inches from the ground, then again a few inches up, plus maybe one top wire, would be about right for small, ground-dwelling critters, but would allow people to step over it, eliminating the need for gates.

We don’t seem to have a coyote or bobcat or larger animal problem.

I’m fed up with losing crops and chickens to nighttime marauders.

Do you think it would work? Do you think it’s worth it? It’s been a long time since I’ve been around electric fencing, and I was just a kid so I have no experience setting up a system, so I could use some pointers, recommendations, and pros and cons.

All-in-one kits or customized DIY versions? How about solar power?

I’d love to hear your stories and advice.


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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie Fanning August 25, 2016 at 4:23 am

My brother had the same problem with feral cats getting to his pigeons. He electrified a piece of chicken wire about a foot wide and laid it flat on the ground around his coop. I have no idea how he did it cause to me it seems it would short out on the ground the tiny bit I know about electricity. But whatever they did it worked. He stopped getting up every morning to mauled birds.

Sharon August 25, 2016 at 4:36 am

Electric fence isn’t that hard to set up. I’m not sure about the ‘all in one kits’ as we have always been DIY fence builders. They aren’t as hard to put up as some people think. If you are just going to go around the chicken coop and some of your garden, then you can probably get away with fiberglass fence posts rather then the steel ones. They are usually cheaper and easier to haul around while you are installing, and they hold up to the sun and the weather. (we even have a set with some wire that we take camping with us so that our team of horses have a corral, rather then having to be on the picket line) Solar chargers are actually going to cost you the most, and you still need a battery of some sort, and then if you get several days worth of cloudy weather, you have no juice in the fence. Battery is good……..but they do need to be charged every so often, so do you own a battery charger? Also, don’t set your battery directly on the ground as that will drain the charge. Plug in electric ones work the best and pack the most punch. And they don’t really cost that much to run, literally just a couple pennies a day depending on how big a one you get. We always run a continuous loop…..from point A, around the perimeter, dropping down to second row, then around, dropping down to third row, and terminating at the end of that third row. If yo don’t want continuous loop, then you need ‘jump wires’ between the rows to carry the current down for you. And don’t forget to ‘ground’ the whole set up so that you get the most charge.

Kimer August 25, 2016 at 6:11 am

Had electric fence in CO to keep big stuff out. Don’t know about the smaller version, but I would think it’s worth trying. If it doesn’t work you can resell it to someone else. I say go for it, cuz it bests sitting up all night with a shotgun!

HisGrace August 25, 2016 at 7:24 am

Check out He uses electric fences for his chickens and turkeys, and it seems to work well.

Sallie August 25, 2016 at 8:06 am

Oh, Dear. Things have gone from bad to much worse. So sorry. I do think you are on the right track with the e-fence. Does not draw that much power.
You could buy a trap at the Tractor Supply and move the critter. I think they are about $25.

Lindsay August 25, 2016 at 8:26 am

We use the hog fencing from Premier 1 with a solar electrifier. It’s handy to put wherever we want and not worry about access to electric. You can get a ‘plug in’ electrifier too. We’re on 5 acres, so electric access is a major issue. We have used this fencing on hogs, goats (successful except for bucks in rut), and cows. The hog fencing is only 3ft high and has smaller squares at the bottom and larger ones at the top. It also only ‘pops’ 1x per second instead of a constant charge. They learn their lesson and stay away from it, but children who grab it won’t have permanent damage. It’s easy to install and take down too.
Just keep it away from anything metal. Our pigs found a way to ground the fence and electrocuted themselves. That was not a fun project.

Virginia August 25, 2016 at 10:22 pm

Hah! Electric fencing! Great idea. Now, I’m not having predator issues. Just CATS in my garden beds. Five cats live next door. THEIR front and back yards are mostly rock. You know, volcanic rocks that are sharp in the front. Small river rock in the back. Very little greenery. No fun for kitties whatsoever! And doing their business in those conditions don’t seem pleasant. BUT the next door neighbor (me) has soft, fluffy vegetable garden beds in almost the entire back and south side yards. Even the front is being slowly converted Into guerrilla garden beds, with edibles sneaked in with some flowers and (medicinal) shrubs. So, guess where the cats prefer to leave their deposits. And, of course, lounging around my place is much more enjoyable than in the own yards. It is frustrating to find cat “exhaust” in practically every bed. More so (even Maddening) to be minding my own business, pulling weeds, only to inadvertently stick my hand into freshly buried poop. Thoughts turn to poison-laced tuna, or a pellet gun , or at the very least, collecting a bag of kitty exhaust and dumping a nice big mountain of cat deposit on the neighbor’s sidewalk. I know. Not very Christian of me. Please note, I have not followed through with any of those thoughts…yet. But I have been trying to teach the little darlings that it’s really not a good idea to hang out on my side of the fence. Chasing them with super soakers has resulted in very few wet kitty hairs. They run faster than I can. And they know if I’m in the yard to just stay away. As much as I would love to live outside in the garden, that is just not practical. Besides, I can’t be in the front, back and side yards all at the same time. I’ve even noticed on my security camera monitors kitties sneaking into the front yard…so, I quickly ran to the kitchen to fill a pitcher with water, then tried to quietly catch them doing their duties in hopes of giving them a good soaking. They ALWAYS look surprised as if wondering how I knew they were there. But, they still manage to scurry away, dry, at that! I’ve even set tuna baited traps….and caught a couple of the juvenile cats. They knew they were in trouble when they saw me approaching and they couldn’t escape. THOSE times I didn’t miss. They got good soakings with the garden hose…..several times. I let them think about it after one good stout spraying of water. Then returned a few more times for some more showers. Finally I turned them loose. They took of like a bat out of…..well, you get the picture. But they STILL frequent my yard when I’m not out there. So, I wonder if electric fencing would do the trick. Will have to research that. Any ideas of how to keep my yard from being the neighborhood kitty box?

Daisy August 26, 2016 at 8:04 am

Virginia–My favorite cat-ivity is when they find a newly seeded bed or one in which fresh young seedlings have just been coaxed from the ground and decide to dig a nice wide trench in it in which to conduct their business. Your situation seems particularly maddening since your neighbor’s own yard is so un-toilet-like; they must think their cats have such neat habits. Electric might work, but one thing I’ve wondered about is how distant from tall fences the electric fence would need to be to make it impossible for critters to vault from the top of a board fence OVER the short electric fence. And cats are excellent vaulters. Good luck!

Daisy August 26, 2016 at 8:10 am

Lindsay–Aha, yes, no metal, right. That sounds dangerous. Would you use solar if you wanted to electrify an area within reach of an extension cord and do you think ex cord would be safe?

Daisy August 26, 2016 at 8:13 am

Sallie–I’ve been told trapping creates a space for the next raccoon to move in, unfortunately. I have trapped in the past, and let me tell you, it’s no picnic getting an angry, scared raccoon to exit a trap without getting attacked.

Daisy August 26, 2016 at 8:16 am

HisGrace–Thanks for the link!

Daisy August 26, 2016 at 8:17 am

Kimer–How did you know what I’ve been doing all night??? Hahaha.

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