Chicken Pen that Works? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Yippee! Hubby has agreed that it is time we got some chickens so we are going to be converting the tack room of our stable (sorry horse people) into the chicken coop. We don't have any animals in the stable and will probably only have sheep with some kind of guard animal like a llama or donkey eventually.

My question is, I am planning to enclose the chicken yard area in eight foot high chicken wire and since I think our neighbors lost their chickens to some animal, I am thinking of putting an electric line about six inches up and one about a foot up on the outside of the fence. Will this keep out racoons, skunks and dogs? If not, please tell me what will so I can build this right the first time. Since we also have hawks, I am planning on putting netting across the top although I do have a large cherry tree in the middle of the chicken yard which will make this a little more difficult.

Oh yeah, one more question, since I'm on a roll, could I divide the tack room in half and put in two exit doors and separate the yard with fencing and raise ducks in one half and chickens in the other. I guess my enthusiasm is getting away from me. LOL

-- Colleen (, March 06, 2000


You won't need anything nearly 8' high unless you have flying foxes in your area. As far as hawks are concerned, our free range chickens got a little panicky when a goshawk showed up (they are HUGE), but since we have primarily large heavy breeds, he (she?) did not attack. I wouldn't worry about hawks. Owls are a different matter, but if you have a 4' to 6' fence, clip one wing (never 2) of your chickens to keep them from flying out, and BRING THEM IN each night, I don't believe you'll have a problem. Foxes aren't good fence busters, but they are good stalkers of free range birds. Raccoons can get in ANYWHERE, so a good door on the coop is essential. Raccoons are nocturnal - one spotted in the day is a candidate for rabies - be careful. Foxes hunt 24 hours per day, but the fence will deter them. Skunks are beneficial - I would never knowingly hurt one. They are nocturnal as well, and death on rats and mice. I have never had them take chickens or even eggs. Dogs - what can I say? Usually not a problem, but I did have to shoot one many years ago. If you fence, should be no problem. If you free range, just keep an eye out unless your neighbors have pooches that are already looking like trouble. Good Luck!


-- Brad (, March 06, 2000.

Colleen, you will love your hens. If you have the money start off right and use 6 foot chain link, it is wonderful! sturdy! and nothing is going to push a hole through it to get to your hens. Also a footing all the way around the yard and barn, it doesn't have to be elaborate, just a shoveled out ditch that you fill with concrete. In the yard area we also have it covered with welded wire, it has re- bar every 4 feet or so and we just used hog clips to attach the welded wire, (welded wire here is like fenceing, but not like chicken wire that is so flimsy). Good luck with your project! Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh (, March 06, 2000.

I have a 5' woven wire fence that has worked for everything but Leghorns, they flap their clipped wing a little harder, (for balance, don't ya know) and climb up the wire with their feet! This fence looks just like the woven wire for cattle, but the spacing at the bottom is very close, for the babies. If your building is as nice as it sounds, locking up the birds at night should keep the critters away from them, and a pair of geese inside the fence will discourage any daytime 4-legged critter from crossing the boundary, and will yell for you in the bargain. Compatability doesn't seem to be a problem, and I paved around the outside waterer with some old bricks to keep puddles making a mess. I also run ducks and chickens together, if you have a large run, and keep the water outside, the ducks hardly ever go inside. Also, if the rooster has a large enough harem, he doesn't even look their way. For my water birds, I built a few little open fronted "bird houses" for nesting and napping in, and scattered them about in the run. They are about 3' on all sides, moveable, and seem to be a real hit for nesting season, as these birds prefer a bit more privacy than the chickens.

-- Connie (, March 07, 2000.

I raised 50 cornish-cross last year for butchering. We dug and buried the fence 6" hoping that would take care of critters. Well, my kids were working in the garden at the time - not 50' from the coop and a fox came and dug under the fence and grabbed a bird (broad daylight) (fox chose the side with trees so he was a little covered from view) By the time I got the shot gun and ran down there, he was gone - fortunately without a bird. The person who mentioned the cement had a good idea!

-- Pat (, March 07, 2000.

Vickie, I love the cement idea. How deep a ditch do we have to dig? I think I'll go to the wire fencing instead of chicken wire. Might as well go a little sturdier while I'm doing it. Thanks for the info.

-- Colleen (, March 07, 2000.

We penned off a section of our barn for the chickens, but we let them oudoors in nice weather (even in winter, if they want to go). They come back to the pen at night to feed and roost. We like to have the chickens out and about the place. One group of them is always up at the house, I keep a can of cracked corn in the mud room for them. They keep the area under the shrubs weed free and fertilized. We do have hawks, racoons, and foxes, but I guess the dog and all the activity keeps them away. Your plans sound good to me and the chickens will enjoy the cherries!

-- Jean (, March 07, 2000.

Jean how hard is it to get them back in the pen. I was thinking of letting mine out now and then

-- shaun cornish (, March 07, 2000.

I started with my chicks in there hen house until I thought they were big enough to survive out side .By this time they knew were food and water is.I let them out during the day and by night time they want to eat and go to roost .We have had no problems getting them in at night.

-- Patty Gamble (, March 07, 2000.

Shaun, like Patty says, they learn where their food and water is. Keep them in the pen until they're 3 or 4 months old though. We keep our chicks in a smaller pen with the hen until they are too crowded. When we let them out of there, they are cautious about going out of the barn for a while anyway.

-- Jean (, March 08, 2000.

A trick I learned was to keep your hens in their barn until they are laying. Once they start laying where you want them they will come home to eat, roost and lay. If you let them out before you will be Easter Egg hunting! It works really well, I have only one hen who insists on living out at the Dairy Goat barn. After I finish chores in the morning, I open the chicken door, we close them in again after dark. I can't stand to do chores with the hens out, they sit at the milk stand and scurry to pick up any grain that the doe's let fall from their dish. It sounds cute for about 5 minutes then it is annoying. Vicki McGaugh

-- Vicki McGaugh (, March 08, 2000.

Hi Colleen, We don't have chickens yet but we are building a shed on the back side of what we call our "barn" and one fourth of it will be for my chickens. They will have a roof over them and chicken wire on the sides (and now that I've read the other threads, possibly concrete under the chicken wire so things can't dig under!) and I'm making a little pen adjacent to it so they can go outside when they want and be in the sun and it grass. It will just mainly be chicken wire.

What kind of chickens are you getting????? We are in north Alabama.

-- Suzy Lowry Geno (, March 09, 2000.

Ah chickens....boy do I miss 'em! Have been trying to talk hubby into letting me get some more for three years now - hadn't had time to care for them properly though, so didn't push too hard. I have had several chicken pens: 8 foot tall chicken wire with no footing, 6 foot tall woven wire with the bottom tucken under railroad ties, and 4 foot snow fence fastened to metal T posts with electical tie-wraps. They all worked okay. We have coyotes, skunks, coons, possums, hawks and all the other assorted midwestern fauna. Only critters I ever had trouble with with the chickens was one Labrador Retriever (he always looked guilty) and the darn possums (live trapped and hauled 'em off). Coyotes did get in and kill a bunch of my rabbits one time, but the chickens were shut up at night so they couldn't get in to them.

-- Polly (, March 10, 2000.

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