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It's Electrifying: Vt. Fish & Wildlife Advises Fencing For Backyard Hens

Numerous chickens stand behind a fence.
Elodie Reed
Backyard chickens are an easy target for predators.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is encouraging poultry owners to use electric fencing to protect their birds.

Free-ranging chickens are vulnerable to a number of predators, like foxes and weasels. The department said it's noted a "dramatic increase" in the number of complaints about bears, foxes, raccoons, fisher cats, coyotes, skunks and bobcats preying on backyard chickens.

Vermont Chief Game Warden Jason Batchelder has been protecting his own chickens with electric fencing for nearly 10 years. He said it helps keep the hens in and the predators out, delivering a shock to would-be chicken snatchers.

"I've had really good luck with this fence," he said in an interview. "Once something has touched it they'll never touch it again."

Batchelder said the shocks are not harmful, and the worst his fence has done is stun a salamander.

The department offered other ideas for potecting chickens, including applying bacon grease or peanut butter to a spot on the electric fencing, and installing a motion-activated light to illuminate the coop.

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