I’ve had a few questions about the new fox proof chicken run, so I thought it worth covering what we’ve done and why. Although we’ve just got 5 birds, things have been geared for 6 birds.
The total area set aside for the hens is is about 70 square metres, which is actually more than the free range standard. That free range allowance was calculated to be enough to let pasture regenerate from the birds attentions.
The poultry area was cleared to bare soil and sowed with a specific poultry pasture mix – this contains various herbs and grasses so should be both hard wearing and contribute to their diet. It should increase the omega 3 levels in the eggs and improve the colour of the yolks, naturally.
I had 3 large hebe bushes which had overgrown their position in our back border. These have been transplanted into the poultry area. They will give the hens a bit more interest and a place to shelter from the eagles. I know we haven’t got any eagles here but the hens aren’t so sure! Remember they’re naturally forest floor dwellers, hidden under the tree canopy.
The poultry area is sheltered to some degree by dry stone walls to 3 sides. I thought about fox-proof fencing it all off but that’s just too expensive. The area outside the run is fenced with Omlet net fencing. If needed, I can move it about to limit access to areas that need freedom from the birds to re-grow.
It’s not fox-proof but they’ll only be in the insecure area when we’re about to keep an eye on them.
The Fox Proof Chicken Run
I must admit to maybe going a little over the top if anything with this. The reason is that Gabriel gets so attached to his chickens and we don’t want him upset because the fox has got his pets.
Size of the Fox Proof Chicken Run
The size is 3.6 metres long by 2 metres wide, giving the birds 7.2 square metres. The Eglu Cube is raised above the ground. So the space under can be used by the hens and gives them a sheltering place when it rains. It does rain on occasion in Wales!
Materials for the secure poultry run
The walls, roof and anti-digging skirt are all heavy gauge weldmesh, stapled onto a wooden frame. So totally secure from a fox gnawing or digging in.
Access to the coop and pasture
There are two doors. One from the path which allows easy access to the coop to get the eggs etc. The other opens onto the main poultry area to let them have access to that.
Change of Plan & Construction
The original plan was to construct it as four wall sections, bolt these together in place and then fit the roof. I’d got all the wood, weldmesh and various bits in to construct the cage but it kept getting put back as there are so many other jobs to do.
Anyway, my pal Craig came to the rescue. He has a business assembling flat pack furniture and carpentry in North Wales, so he knows what he’s doing with woodwork. He thought it would be stronger and longer lasting if constructed differently. So I bowed to his superior knowledge and left him to it.
He’s made a better job of it than I would have done, he’s a bit of a perfectionist – which isn’t a bad thing. Proper lap joints and corner bracing and all!
Hens safe and secure
The hens have plenty of room when we’re not there and they’re safe. Even if we go out and get back late to close the coop up, they’re still safe from the foxes. Most foxes hunt from dusk to dawn, although it is foolish to assume you’re safe in the day.
So, our hens should enjoy a happy and safe life.. even if they’re not being very productive yet!