Electric fencing is the most effective way of both containing your chickens and of protecting them from predators. The shock will not be enough to harm your chickens but will be sufficient to keep them in and predators out.
To make things easy we are supplying electric netting kits in 3-sizes. Each kit includes a new Hot Gate system which allows access to the chickens without the need to disconnect the energiser. We also sell the kit components separately, so if you need spares or replacements then we can help.
We recommend the Gemini Dual Input Energiser that, as the name suggests, can be run from either a 12v battery (which we also supply) or from a mains power supply. If you would prefer a solar option, then we also supply the Fire Drake Solar Energiser which has an integral 12v battery and comes with a battery charger to help keep it charged on overcast days.
Some technical stuff:
The netting is made from polyurethane with metal filaments running through the horizontal strands (apart from the bottom base line). This is mounted on integral PVC posts. To “charge” the net an energiser is connected to the net and to the ground via an earth stake. This forms an open circuit so that when an animal comes into contact with the net and ground it completes the circuit and gets a shock. This is why the net does not need to be erected in a loop but can also be used in a straight line.
The energiser produces a high voltage pulse approximately once every second. A dog, fox or badger will approach the fence and receive a shock. Although in theory the predatory could jump the fence once it has been shocked the net will act as a sufficient enough psychological barrier to keep the animal away. I have seen foxes walk straight past my electric fencing without showing the chickens any interest because they have once been shocked.
The bottom line of wire is not live but all the other horizontal lines are. You will need to keep the lowest live line free from vegetation and so either strim or mow the line. Alternatively, you can cut the lowest live line at the first and last post. But this does mean that a mink or stoat could squeeze under.
The other consideration is small mammals, frogs and toads that you do not want to get caught up in the netting. In 15 years of using electric fencing I have had not had a problem but have heard of cases where small animals have got caught in the fencing and died from multiple shocks. The answer is to erect a low barrier in front of the net.