Building a chicken moat/run around the garden in stages.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Serenashome, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. Serenashome

    Serenashome Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We are getting chickens this year! So we have a lot of work to do before they get here. We are getting chickens for eggs initially. However, everything we add to our property needs to maximize its potential and be as self sustainable as possible. So chickens like to clear weeds, eat seeds, and eat bugs. Solution: Build a chicken moat around the garden and let them work for me. Less weeding the perimeter of the garden, less bugs in the garden, less weed seeds that get into my gorgeously composted top soil. All this with the added benefit of eggs and potentially chicken dinners! So how we are planning to accomplish this will be detailed below.

    I would love input and ideas on how to better accomplish this too! Also pictures of your moats and runs would be awesome!

    Below I am going to attempt to give you enough details to see not only where we are in the project but hopefully help someone do something similar if they are on a budget like us.

    We have a 42' by 50' raised bed garden. With 3' pea gravel walkways between each 4' by 10' bed. There are 15 beds in order for us to have a really good 5 year crop rotation. There is also a 36' perennial bed at the top of the garden which butts up to a pole barn. It took us one year of planning, followed by one year of buying materials a little each month to make the garden a reality. It is not yet finished and we are in year three. This year we add the fence (chicken moat) and kiwi and gourds with trellis'. So the garden has been a piece by piece three year project.

    [​IMG]

    Above is a picture of a small portion of the garden. That fence is temporary. It will become the chicken moat!

    So this is what we started with. I am planning to post updates as we work on the rest through this spring, summer, and fall. Next I'll post our temporary coop and the first piece of the moat.
     
  2. Serenashome

    Serenashome Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Step 1: Get a coop chickens can live in for the first year.

    So we bought a prefab chicken coop off craigslist for $100.00. Here's what we started with:
    [​IMG]

    This will be their home for one year (four chickens) before we start building a coop inside the barn for them.

    Budget being what it is we have to do everything in little pieces and little pieces take time. So this year is the fence, next year the coop.

    This is what the coop looks like with a $30.00 investment of 2 quarts of paint, and 2 decorative L brackets.
    [​IMG]

    Same prefab coop, but now it looks presentable and in the future we can use it for babies, introducing new chickens to the flock, separating out chickens who need to heal, or a nice time out place for those chickens who need a minor attitude adjustment.

    Step 1 is done! Yay for progress!
     
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  3. Serenashome

    Serenashome Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Step 2 planning and designing a chicken moat.

    This is easier said than done and became quite the great debate between my husband and I. So many ideas in this forum alone! How do you choose one that works for you? Seriously, you guys are brilliant and I'm so glad I found you.

    We took a step back and asked ourselves what we wanted to accomplish.

    So Step 1 of step 2 is getting your priorities straight.

    Priority 1: Good eggs (Good eggs come from healthy chickens) So a safe healthy environment is key.
    Priority 2: Utilize chickens skills to our advantage (weed clearing and bug eating)
    Priority 3: Build a fence for the garden (already on our list of things to do)
    Priority 4: Aesthetics. It has to fit into our landscape and look like we meant to do it this way.
    Priority 5: longevity. We do NOT have time or money to redo this once it is done, It has to function correctly the first time.
     
  4. Serenashome

    Serenashome Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We decided to create a chicken moat by creating 6' tall by 5' wide panels which we will set into the ground with 4x4 posts. This will be the exterior fence. A chicken moat or run takes two fences. So we will be building another one on the interior as well and then covering the top to protect from hawks and eagles. We can make each panel one at a time in our barn and store them until we are ready to start sinking posts this spring. Each panel has 3' tall hardware cloth on the bottom and 3' of welded wire with holes that measure 2" by 4".

    If anyone wants dimensions or how we cut the boards let me know. Here are three pics of the fence panel as we put it together.

    [​IMG]
    So we cut the boards and the wire laid out and squared the frame. Then we stapled the wire to the frame. This is built with 1x4 treated lumber. In this picture there are two boards in the middle, the top board is not attached yet.

    [​IMG]
    Here you can see the hardware cloth stapled to the frame. on the bottom half of the panel.

    [​IMG]
    Here we have added the welded wire to the top portion and added the boards on the top of the wire to give us a sandwiched frame around the wire.

    So we will continue to make these panels through winter until we have enough to create the first section of run for the chickens to use this year. The run will be three feet wide and however long we can make it as money allows. we will then continue to add on as we can until it is finished.

    More updates coming as we continue. This is as far as we have come today.
     
  5. Tumbling K

    Tumbling K Overrun With Chickens

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    panels sound like a great idea!!

    hopefully the terrain they will be set on, is pretty dang level.......
     
  6. Serenashome

    Serenashome Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh there will be digging and gnashing of teeth I am sure. lol
     
  7. Tumbling K

    Tumbling K Overrun With Chickens

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    something I do, when running fencing like that. if the ground is uneven, or not level, run the fence first, and steeple to the posts. then run the bottom board along the ground. run a string line along the top wire of the fencing, use a line level, and adjust the height keeping it level, and hopefully, the fence that falls above or below the line is not more than half the top board width. plan on the string being the center of the top board.
     
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  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Hmmm...one thing I was thinking as I looked at your first few pics, and out the window at my run and garden area....
    .....is that it's pretty cool how the birds will clear the grass at the bottom of the run walls thru the 2x4 welded wire and out about 6" outside the walls.
    it's great that I don't have to trim the grass around the run walls, just mow pretty close.
    Then I saw the HC you are using at the bottom of the panels....so not quite sure where the HC will be in your moat/garden fence plan, but think about that.

    Not sure how important aesthetics are to you, but I've found heavy t-posts don't look too bad and they are removable/changeable.
    Changeability trumps looks for me and I hate digging holes for 4x4 posts(thought I read somewhere up there you were doing posts?)

    Just a few thoughts. Looking forward to watching your progress...I'm thinking of doing chunnels(movable chicken tunnels) sections this year.
     
  9. Serenashome

    Serenashome Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We really thought long and hard about T-posts. The temporary fence we have around the garden now has little 4' posts and they have worked well, they pull right out of the ground and get placed somewhere else so easily.

    When we built the garden we built the gate with 4x4 posts thinking once we could afford the fence that was how we were building it. So we are continuing with that. We have coyotes who bed down about 200 feet from the end of the garden, a pair of mating hawks in one of our trees in back of the garden, a bald eagle, countless rabbits, raccoon, snakes, an occasional deer, and a whole host of other things that do damage to fences around gardens. (as I write that it occurs to be I have almost every predator to chickens there is except maybe weasels. lol) So we opted for tough. Hardware cloth is small enough to keep out snakes and chickens can't get their heads through it. So we will be mowing right up to the fence on the exterior. On the interior by the garden it is pea gravel so no weeds there. I am debating planting spearmint along the floor of their run and peas to climb the fence for them to eat.

    I did get a bit of advice to use welded 1x1 wire instead of the hardware cloth on the bottom. Would be cheaper, but snakes go right through it. Also that advice came after we bought the wire...We probably would have gone that route and dealt with the snakes later.

    Love to see what you come up with the chunnels :)
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Are snakes really a problem?
    They can be good, unless they're venomous.

    and I use the heavy cast tposts, not the bent metal ones...posts can be good for gates tho.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016

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