I have an electric fence/wire around the top of my split-rail fence surrounding about 1 acre of land.

I keep finding dead birds right next to/under the fence wire. Not just one or two, but actually have found 6 birds so far this summer (small sparrows of something similar).

There is a wire going from a copper ground rod to the unit. Then from the unit around the 1 acre fence. For the last ~100ft or so, the wire splits down and goes along the bottom (the area where the dogs kept digging out).

I'm not SURE it's only in the area where the bottom split exists, but so far, that's the only area I've found birds.

fence issue birds dying

There are weeds/grass growing that touch the fence at the bottom, which is my guess as to why this is happening (grounding the whole thing, even if only slightly?), but I don't know for sure or really understand why. Are my two options really to either keep the fence from touching ANY weeds/grass or have it kill birds?

I actually have this same scenario in two locations, one with this Fi-Shock 5-acre fence charger, and one with this Fi-Shock 10-acre fence charger. Both with dead birds.

actual photo of fence wire and weeds

Other than the dead birds, is this an issue for my dogs? Neighborhood kids? ...etc?

  • 1
    My guess is that the birds are contacting the live wire near the bottom of the fence while they're still touching the ground or plants, thus completing the circuit between the fence and ground and being electrocuted. Plants offer very little electrical resistance, much like human bodies.
    – BillDOe
    Jul 14, 2016 at 22:30
  • Thoughts on what I can do to stop it from happening? Or just something I'm going to have to put up with?
    – Dave
    Jul 15, 2016 at 1:16
  • I would think removing that branch wire would work. If dogs are a problem in that particular spot, you could install stone or concrete under the fence.
    – BillDOe
    Jul 15, 2016 at 5:29
  • Ok, thanks. Maybe for now, I'll just try killing off all the vegetation underneath. Much smaller project. :)
    – Dave
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:56

4 Answers 4


Even with a small charger like you have if a bird is eating at the fence line and touches the fence ! Wham ! It is dead. We spray our fence line to keep the horses and grass / berry vines from shorting the fence out. Our charger is a 50 mile running at 15KV with no shorts from grass/ berries before we started weed eating and spraying we did have a few dead birds but since then I haven't found one.

I did not notice you asked about dogs and kids. Kids will usually only touch the fence 1 time and the jolt keeps them from doing it again unless they are like I was and when wearing rubber boots I would touch the fence and a buddy yes we both got shocked but I would be expecting it maybe that had something to do with me becoming an electrician...lol. Dogs some times take a couple of shocks to figure out where the thing that bit them was and to stay away from the fence. I have never heard of a large animal or person being injured beyond the initial jolt.


I changed to an intermittent charger and our fence stopped killing birds.

  • 1
    Continuous current energizers are old tech and should be replaced for safety regardless. They're known to kill livestock.
    – isherwood
    Mar 19, 2019 at 13:15

I'm of the understanding that the Amps on the electric fences are relatively low (much lower than your house circuits for example), so the "bite" from the electric shock will be exactly that - a bite / shock to condition & deter the animal / child / adult from doing that same thing again. The birds you mentioned are much smaller than we are, so what to us is a small Amperage, to them is a much larger one than they could cope with ... it's a bit like the difference in you touching the fence & getting a shock & you going to the nearest substation & touching something you shouldn't ... the higher Amperage at the source (which is actually designed to be distributed to all the properties in the substation's service area) would kill you, but not the one from the fence specifically designed to deter you ... besides, if the fence was dangerous to animals / children, then I'm sure there'd have been a lawsuit against the manufacturers by now ...

  • 2
    Older continuous current energizers are potentially dangerous and have killed plenty of livestock. Your statements are somewhat true, but not entirely. Modern intermittent (pulse) energizers are much safer.
    – isherwood
    Mar 19, 2019 at 13:17
  • 1
    Regarding your last statement, a quick Google shows plenty of lawsuits over electric fences for misuse or improper/faulty design. Mar 19, 2019 at 13:21

put a rubber mat underneath where they keep dying. this will stop them from being grounded.

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