What Fencing Is Best For Your Backyard Chickens?

If you've recently acquired some chickens to raise in your backyard, you're in good company -- residential chicken ownership is on the rise, with more and more cities enacting ordinances to permit homeowners to own a small laying brood. While a sturdy chicken coop is essential to offer your new livestock's shelter from the weather or potential predators, you may want your chickens to be more "free range," which can mean fully fencing in your backyard or entire property. What fencing options are both cost-effective and ideal for your chickens? 

What fencing options are available?

Nearly any type of residential fencing is suitable for chickens -- your best option likely depends on your budget and your homeowners' association (HOA) rules, if applicable.

Solid cedar or pine fencing is one of the more expensive options, but can provide your chickens with daily shade and superb protection from all local wildlife. You can opt to have this fence made of solid panels or staggered to provide some privacy while still allowing ventilation.

PVC or vinyl fencing is another durable option that can resist fading or pitting for decades. You may opt to have a PVC picket fence with pickets narrow enough to prevent a chicken from fleeing, or create a solid fence that is designed to look exactly like wood.

If your fence is intended for containment purposes only and doesn't need to be decorative, you may be able to get by with something as simple as chain link. Chicken wire can also be placed on the top of the fenced area, creating an enclosure that will keep your fowl safe from predatory birds. However, you'll want to check with your HOA (if you have one) to see if there are any restrictions on these types of fences, as some require only solid or picket fences.

What should you keep in mind when constructing a fence for your chickens? 

Because chickens can't fly very high or for long distances, you shouldn't need an ultra-tall fence to keep them confined to your yard. However, you will want a fence high enough to keep out any potential predators -- particularly neighbors' dogs or coyotes. If you live in a dog-friendly neighborhood, you may want to take some observational walks to see the average height of your neighbors' fences, as it's likely these fences are high enough to contain any local dogs or other wildlife.

Contact a local fencing company to learn more.