Everything likes chicken. More chickens in small flocks are lost to predators like hawks, dogs, raccoons, foxes and other predators than to any other cause. Once predators figure out how to get to the chickens, they will return over and over until all the chickens are gone. It's tempting lock the chickens in a coop for their own protection, but scratching and pecking in the ground and in foliage is vital to keeping chickens occupied. Without it, they can begin to peck at themselves or each other. Creating a predator-proof exercise run for the chickens is not hard; it simply requires planning to thwart danger from all sides.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Chain link fence or wire mesh with small openings
- Metal fence posts
- Galvanised wire clips
- 24-inch poultry netting
- Landscape pegs
- Wire or fishing line
- Old CDs
Measure the required space for the run.
Drive in fence posts. Form the pen walls by using galvanised wire clips to attach chain link or wire mesh. For the best protection, the run walls should be between 5 and 6 feet tall.
Attach boards along the bottom of the fence walls to form guard boards. This will prevent predators from pulling out the wire and crawling under.
Create an apron by rolling out the poultry netting along the entire outside perimeter of the run. This will prevent the chickens from digging out and predators from digging in.
Secure the apron by attaching it to the guard boards along the fence walls. Secure the outside edge of the apron to the ground with landscape pegs.
Cover the apron with dirt.
Enclose the top with poultry wire to keep out birds of prey.
Tips and warnings
- For the best health of the chickens, the area of the run should be at least 10 square feet per bird.
- Chain link fencing will keep out most digging predators, but small chicks can get through the openings. To prevent this, attach chicken wire along the bottom of the pen.
- If fencing in the top of the run isn't practical because of the size of the run or the cost, criss-cross wire or fishing line across the top of the pen. Use additional lengths of fishing line to attach old CDs. It is believed the movement of the CDs and the reflections they give off act as a deterrent to birds of prey.
- Determined predators can, in time, figure out how to breach the most secure chicken run. Because the majority of predation happens at night, it is important to lock the chickens up in a secure coop at night.
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