Garden run dilemma. Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Chickenmath, May 10, 2011.

  1. Chickenmath

    Chickenmath Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2011
    Ok. Here's the scoop. We're working on our coop (in our garden). The garden itself is surrounded by a 6' chain link fence, mainly because we have antelope and deer crossing in the area. We'd like to let our chickens roam the garden and help out with the hoppers and other bugs.
    The problem? Our soil is absolutely horrible to work with--We had to do 3' raised garden beds with "imported" soil so we can grow anything more than tumbleweeds and sage. The soil is so bad that last year, my husband's new tractor auger broke after drilling only six holes on another project.

    Do we do the entire garden fence with the hardware cloth or just build a separate run? The fencing is about 40' x 60', so not a small area! If we were to clip their flight wings, would we still have trouble with the chickens ransacking our 3' high garden beds? Or should we just plan on a covered run? Only half the garden is filled with raised beds, so we do have the room to do whatever we want.

    Here's a pic of the coop to give an idea of the area. BTW- The pop out door is going in on the right wall.
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I have had chicken breeds that flew over my 8 foot high garden fence. I didn't clip their wings. My heavy brown egg layers don't fly over it.

    Chickens can quite easily get up 3 feet to your raised beds in a single hop.

    If it were me, I would simply put another chain link fence around the garden with a gate. Then when you wanted the chickens to go in there and clean up the garden after harvest, just open the gate.

    If you think aerial predators (or even digging predators) are likely to be a problem, then I would go with making a nice run with hardware cloth (with an apron out).

    Some like to have their chickens free range, and some don't. You can expect some losses when you free range (even within a fenced garden), as the fencing isn't predator proof. And the hawks can just swoop down and get them unless they get to cover in time. Only 1/2 inch hardware cloth is supposedly predator proof.

    You would also need to put some sort of cover over your run if you want to be sure the hawks don't get them. And owls. If you get snow be sure it will carry a snow load.

    I have a huge garden with 8 foot fencing and a side yard with just chicken wire, with 2" chicken wire overhead that the snow falls through. I know my setup isn't predator proof during the day.

    I hope this helps.
    Last edited: May 10, 2011
  3. Carols Clucks

    Carols Clucks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 13, 2010
    Do you have hawks and Eagles?

    Do you want the chickens to patrol the edges of your garden?

    Are you locking them in at night?

    Any other "interesting" predators?

    What kind of chickens?

    Just trying to get an idea of what you are dealing with before an answer.....we have a chicken "moat" around our garden, we clip wings and they still get in, but not as often if we keep wings clipped. We have a 4' fence and mostly full sized EE's. But one gate is lower and that is where they usually go in at (gotta fix that)
  4. SunnyCalifornia

    SunnyCalifornia Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 8, 2010
    Escondido CA
    My chickens don't ransack my plants.... They've been really good! My backyard is not huge, maybe 100' x 50', with half of that sloped up. I have 4' fences at the top of the slope, and nobody had ever tried to get over.

    I planted blueberries, and they obviously like those. They jump as high as they can to reach the ripe berries, its really cute, but I just planted extra... for sharing! My tomato plants haven't been touched yet. When I let them into my "official" veggie garden, they really don't bother the plants, they just dig and scratch around them.

    Give them lots of treats, and they'll probably not be too destructive.
  5. KlaHaYa Gardens

    KlaHaYa Gardens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    With respect to the garden . . .

    . . . since you have 3' raised beds, you could put a triangular frame on either end of the bed and have aviary netting draped over a cross piece. Just throw the net back over top while you are working in the garden, then lower the netting when you are finished.

    I have used this simple technique on a few of my smaller garden beds. It's worked well to keep the chickens from eating the goodies -- in this case lettuces.
  6. Chickenmath

    Chickenmath Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2011
    Well, to provide some more info:

    We have hawks, eagles and huge ravens. We know that for sure. Don't know about owls, but I guess that doesn't really matter if we already need to deal with the other birds anyways.
    We also have foxes in the area. Seen a few down our dirt road recently. Raccoons? Not sure, but wouldn't be surprised.

    I'd like the chickens to help get rid of grasshoppers and the like in the garden. I have toyed with the idea of just letting them in garden for a half hour or so just before nightfall, while we are in the vicinity to supervise.
    They are still hanging out in a brooder, so no coop living yet. Trying to get the darn thing finished in the next week or so. I do plan on locking them up for the night. We just don't know what else lurks around after dark.

    Our family of chicks includes 10 Red Star, 2 ?'s (I'm seriously thinking they gave me to Corn. X), 5 Silver Wyan, 1 Gold Wyan, 3 Polish, 5 Rock, and 1 turkey. No bantams.

    How would you suggest we secure the hardware cloth apron around the main fencing? Rocks? We certainly have enough large ones around here to do that. I really do not want to do any digging if it can be helped due to the rocky soil.
  7. Carols Clucks

    Carols Clucks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 13, 2010
    Ours are allowed to patrol the outside of the garden, but we really try to keep them out most of the time. We have a lot of fruit trees and a big lot, so no way could we cover/wire the whole thing.

    The garden has a 4' fence around it, the chickens can get over the fence, we clip wings to discourage it. Our coop/house is about as safe as we can get it. I am going to build a small run to attach to it just so we can lock them in when we need too.

    If you are letting them run around a big fenced in garden area, it is going to be pretty hard to cover the thing for hawks and the hardware cloth.....probably better saved for a run. I would probably use pvc a posts on those raised beds with plastic garden fencing (the idea being keeping the chickens out not predators) It may help that the beds are raised with a fence to keep the hawks from being able to drive bomb them. Putting chairs and such around so they have a place to hide will help too

    You may loose a few unless you have a secure run for them as well.
  8. CowgirlPenny

    CowgirlPenny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 17, 2011
    South East TN
    I just had to cover my run and I had to mesh together TONS of bird netting (like six 7' foot wide long rolls!) but we finally covered the entire thing. You'll have such peace of mind knowing they can't fly out....and nothing can fly in. My girls easily fly onto their 6 foot tall coop in a good wind. If covering it all is not an option, I would protect the raised beds (possibly just fencing them in) they will eat an entire plant in just a matter of minutes and they can easily fly up to 3 feet even with their wing clipped. Ask me how I know! [​IMG]
  9. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Quote:I have used bird netting too - just be aware that it doesn't carry a snow load- it just falls down. I bagged mine up in the garage before last winter. They do sell some heavy duty stuff on internet that can bear some snow. My 2" metal chicken wire lets the snow fall through.

    Sorry OP- I just wanted to let her know that I have had the snow bring bird netting down!
  10. Chickenmath

    Chickenmath Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2011
    Sigh. Big hawks overhead today. I'm going to have to do a full overhead cover or we'll be losing chicks right and left.

    Snow is not a frequent occurrence (maybe 5x this winter) in our little micro-climate where our house is, but when it does snow, it's usually a good dump of 2-8 inches, with lots of wind and drifting.

    What do you think my best options would be then for overhead? Am I going to need to do some in ground posting after all? [​IMG]
    I will take and post some pics tomorrow morning of the overall space.

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