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Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by DWH, Sep 27, 2009.
Hi I need to know how to keep my chickens safe from predators like pen construction
Check out the coops on the coop page...TONS of ideas!! Most will advise as much hardward cloth as you can use...especially around the bottom portion of the run and over windows and such. Having a door so that the coop can be locked up at night, burying a bit of the wire around the run so that digging predators will be deterred, putting poultry netting across the top of the run...things like that...
Quote:Your question is too broad for a specific answer. Much depends on your location, the number and type of chickens you'll keep, and your willingness to accept some loss as a function of overall cost.
At a minimum, you'll need a secure weather-proof coop large enough for your flock. Secure and weather-proof mean different things to different people. For some, an old pickup cap is secure and weather-proof. For others, the coop must be built to the same code as their home.
Once you decide on a coop, your options range all the way from free ranging all the way up to a welded wire run, buried to 18" and electrified.
Give more info to get better answers.
Besides burying wire, you can lay it out on the ground on the outside and secure it. You'd need at least 18" of apron.
Sorry, i'm not much help..but i can tell you to make sure your wire has VERY small holes..( i lost a lot of birds to a weasel that was slipping through my fence wire holes..).and is very sturdy and a cover over the top of the run will be helpful also..so nothing can climb the wire and get into the pen.
I have 24 birds, 4 breeds, large egg layers. No roos. I built my coop 8 x 16. I ran in a 3/4" water line, a 20 amp electric line, and a telephone line all in the same trench to the coop, some 220 ft from where power exits my home. I planned to put the gate directlly over the top of the trench so as to have power at the gate as well as the coop. I pulled a loop of the buried housewire up and covered it with a cinder block until I was ready to do the gate, so the power was right there waiting for me when I needed it. I set several 4"x8"x16"cinder blocks for the threshold under the gate to discourage digging under it. While I was at it, I set a plastic single-gand eled box in the cement between the cinder blocks. (I also set a yard hydrant around 12 ft from the coop for water at the site.)
The pen is 185 ft around. I set 6" X 10'creosote poles in cement for the corners to ht of 8 ft, and two where the grade/slope changed too much for the fence to be bent to follow, for a total of 6 poles. Then I pulled a mason's line between each pole and dug a trench 4"x4" continuous. I then used a slammer and set 6 ft steel t-posts to be 5 ft tall, at 10 ft intervals all around, at the very inside edge of the trench, which is very straight. Then I cut and stretched and tacked the fence (2 X 4 galvanized welded wire, 6 ft tall) in place to the wood poles and at the bottom of each steel post, where the bottom of it would be slightly below the top of the trench all the way around. I got my 40 yr old electric cement mixer and using coarse sand 5:1 with portland cement, I mixed and poured the trench level to the top, capturing the very bottom of the fence in it. I wet the trench first to slow the curing of the cement. I finished using a margin trowel. Then I put insulators about a foot apart on every pole that will keep the hot wire away from the fence 2". Then I finished attaching the fence to the steel poles. Very important: I then put a 24" tall course of chicken wire inside of the pen all the way around at ground level. Coons will pull birds thru the 2x4 welded wire a piece at a time, so the chicken wire is a must to keep that from happening. Also you do not want your birds to put their inquisitive heads into your hot wire, especially on a wet day.
Next, I got galvanized 14 ga wire 1/4 mile roll, and streteched it around the entire pen at 4 levels a foot apart. I used 4 large springs that I got at tractor supply (along with everything else exc the poles). I set the springs in the middle of each run of the hot wire for tensioning purposes and they work very well to keep the hot wires taught. I pre-stretched them on a 2x4 and secured with two nails and pulled the nails our after the hot wire was connected to the springs on each end. I powered it up using a 5 mile (4 kv) fence charger. I made a sheet metal cover that looks like a miniature phone booth cover to keep it dry. It is mounted on the gate-post. An ordinary idoor outlet is up at the very top inside/under the top of the cover I made. I also put an outdoor duplex outlet immediately inside of the gate for whatever might come up later that would call for electricity. I also put two indoor type outlets inside of the coop for later additions, work, changes, etc. I also extended the hot wires to the front of the gate itself and it is hot 24-7 like the pen is. I used a 6 ft copper ground rod to ground the charger, but also grounded it to the fence. That way, if the first contact does not discourage them, they still have 3 or 4 more chances of getting a good jolt as they climb, since the hot wires are only 2" from the fence itself.
I am going to set a catch and release trap outside of pen near woods and bait it with an egg constantly so as to trap and kill any preds in the neighborhood, whether fox, coon, opossum, or skunk (egg-suckers) I have no worries about hawks or owls since my birds are nearly full grown now, plus I have so many crows hereabouts that they will run off any hawks, owls, and any other preds they see on the ground as well. I hear that you can buy some of that synthetic orange or yellow polypropylene twine and criss-cross over an open top pen to discourage hawks. No guarantee that they won't just land there tho. Scarecrow? That is it for what I did. So far, so good. I do shut the two pop doors at night tho just in case. I have indoor guillotine-type doors that I can drop down into place. I use 1/16" stranded steel wire and pulleys overhead above the soffit to operate the doors from the outside.
Wow gsim, thats not Fort Knox, thats QUANTICO!
DWH, as youll see in the coop design section, theres lots of ideas for looks. Depending on the predators in your area, the mechanics can vary. Classic chicken mesh is only good for keeping chickens IN, not predators OUT. Tractor Supply has posts, and welded wire fencing that will be good, but most agree that having the ½ inch or ½ x 1 inch hardware cloth around the bottom is an extremely good idea. Also, it is usually a good idea to have another strip of hardware cloth either buried a ways down, 8 10 inches seems common, or at the very least, shallowly buried flat as an apron, to discourage digging enemies, securely fastened to the fence base. That still has to be anchored down well on the outer edge, so they cant rip it up easily
but it can be covered with stone which can be attractive and help drainage wise, as well as keep weeds away that offer cover to predators. To fasten the apron or buried section to the fence base, you can ask at TSC, but so called pig rings are effective, easy and not horribly expensive. Theres probably other methods too, but Im old and pig rings are the old way.
I saw a nice pen here recently where they dug a 6 inch or so trench and laid the wire into it, and poured ready-mix concrete in. Whatever you decide there, its a lot of work, but probably worth it.
Good luck however you do it, and we love pictures!!! By reading what others do, you'll benefit from their experience, and by posting how you do things, others can benefit from YOUR experience in this and other areas.
In my opinion, the most important thing is having a coop that is preditor proof from night time preditors that the chickens get locked up in every night. Hardware cloth at all openings and secure locks at all doors (people and chicken).
The run should be preditor proof against day time preditors such as dogs, coyote (if out in the country) and hawks or other birds over head.
Secure fencing with at least hardware cloth around the bottom that aprons out to prevent diggers.
Go read the Preditor and Pest section to read what can happen. That's what I did prior to getting chickens.
See my BYC Page for what I did.
What is your location?....or, what kind of predators are you worried about? I just started with chickens this year, and I feel very good about nothing being able to get into my coop. I looked on the coop section of this website, and got all the information that I needed! People on here are great. I do put my chickens in everynight and let them into the outside pen during the day. We have a dog who is running around the outside coop alot, and I don't worry about them during the day.