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Thoughts on A-frame chunnel?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I've looked over a lot of threads in this forum but I can't seem to find any that address similar projects, so I'll just describe what I've got in mind and hopefully some of you all will have opinions.

 

I have a series of raised garden beds and would like to attach a chunnel to my coop so that my hens can travel around the perimeter of the garden and help keep weeds and bugs in check. Kind of a miniature chicken moat. However, the chunnel would have to cut across the gate into my backyard, so I would like to be able to move it or even put it away and store it without a lot of hassle. Storage space is also an issue. If I decide to put the chunnel up during the winter I need something that will fold down flat, hence the A-frame design. Has anyone seen or built an A-frame chicken tunnel that can be folded at the peak? I'm hoping for some pros and cons and any design tips you have to offer.

 

I'll be building the frames out of pallet wood and covering them in chicken wire. I'm framing out the coop and run this week (I should be sleeping right now so that I can get up early and get to work) and it will have a special door for the chunnel opening, so keeping predators out should not be a huge issue. The main questions I have are (1) how to secure the sections of the chunnel to the ground so that they can be relocated without a huge ruckus, (2) how to secure the sections to one another, and (3) whether my "chunnel moat" needs to go all the way around the garden, i.e. connect to the main corridor coming from the coop.

 

As for this last question, I need a way to get into my garden and the simplest solution seems to be building a chunnel that goes almost all the way around but not quite. I have never put chickens in a tunnel before and I don't know if they have sense enough to turn around and circle the moat or if they'll stand there until it gets dark or batter themselves senseless trying to jump across the "people door" to the other end of the chunnel. If that is the case (I kind of suspect it is) then any solutions to the people door problem would be super helpful. 

post #2 of 7
My thoughts are to not use chicken wire over a frame but to use welded wire and make a hoop type of tunnel. Use stakes on the sides to hold it into place. Use hog rings to connect the sections. When you take it up it folds flat for easy storage. You would need to see what wire is available and price it out. This might be costly but it should be quick and convenient. I have a short tunnel leading to my grow-out coop. Thinking on that, I’d suggest you want your tunnel at least 18” high. Building the part around the garden high enough so you can walk in may be a real good option. See the part about weed-eating or mowing below.

My second thought is to not build an A-frame but instead build two flat frames, staking them on the bottom and extending the wire a bit at the top where you could attach them with hog rings. If you do it right they should fold flat but hog rings aren’t impossible to cut off if you need to. By the time you buy the wood (which will rot over time) and figure your time to build them, you may be happier with the hoops. Any way I think of this it can get expensive.

I haven’t done this but I have had chickens when I first let them out get themselves stuck behind a fence and not be able to make their way to the coop at night even though a short walk brings them to the same gate they have been using all day. You are right to think about them getting stuck. They do get pretty desperate so I’m not sure training them with a treat bucket would so you could lead them around from the outside would work. This is only the first night or two after I let them out. They soon learn. It does not happen all the time or to all the chickens, but on occasion I have to herd some to the gate one or two nights before they learn. I’m not sure how you would herd them through that tunnel without crawling in, but once you get them moving toward the coop they will beat you there.

Maybe first build the tunnel part way around the garden until they learn to go to the coop at night, then take it the rest of the way.

Something else to consider. If they have a choice chickens will eat what they like and not eat plants they don’t like. Expect to have to mow the area under the tunnel a few times a year to knock down the types of grass and weeds they don’t eat or otherwise it could become impassable. You do want it easily removable and you want to be able to mow over the stakes or remove them or use a weed eater.

It’s an interesting challenge, doable but possibly expensive.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks Ridgerunner! I do want to keep the ground beneath the chunnel mowed, which is one of the main reasons I need to be able to move and rearrange it. I have an excess of pallet wood and will soon have a bunch of extra chicken wire laying around, which was where I got the idea of creating the A-frame. But I will definitely price some welded fencing and see if I can manage a rounded style tunnel instead. 

 

Also I had not even thought about making a doorway big enough for a person to walk through but that makes much better sense than what I had in mind. Since I'll be doing this in sections, I may try your suggestion of building part way 'round and waiting to see if they can find their way back before making the full circuit. But a walk-through door would solve that problem just as well. 

post #4 of 7

I'd like to see pictures of this......now and in the future when it's built.

 

Would electric poultry netting work to define your boundaries?

 

 

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Howard E, I will definitely post pics once I get underway with this project. Honestly, I'm getting ahead of myself since the coop is just now framed out and still has no walls, roof, or nesting boxes! Until I read your comments I had no idea there was such a thing as electric poultry netting. Do you know what kind of voltage it usually carries? I ask because I am a clutz and will fall into it if I can.  I'm not sure but I might have one or two fliers among my hens, but clipping their wings might be necessary since they will also be "free-ranging" in my enclosed (but not covered) back yard. 

post #6 of 7
The netting has high voltage, probably over 7,000, but low amps. The safety feature is that it pulses instead of having a steady current. That gives things a chance to turn loose. With a steady current you get stuck.

If you really want to you can hold onto it but you have to want to. I don’t know why you would. I’ve been zapped by mine several times. It does get your attention.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #7 of 7

This is the poultry netting most are using:

 

https://www.premier1supplies.com/poultry/fencing.php

 

The second part is the "fencer" or the shocker of origin. There are many, many options for these. Some are simple, others more complex.

 

If you are near a barn or shed with regular household current, an AC unit (one that plugs into a normal outlet) has the most zap and remarkably, are the least expensive.  Some will rattle your teeth. You don't need that to constrain the poultry but setting a coyote or foxes tail on fire will make your day.

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