As a backyard chicken keeper, providing a safe and secure environment for your chickens is paramount. A well-designed and properly constructed chicken run can offer your flock the space they need to roam and forage while protecting them from potential predators.
One important element of a chicken run is the fencing. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of a fenced chicken run, factors to consider when choosing fencing materials, and best practices for constructing a secure and functional chicken run.
You may also want to read about the best chicken coop.
Why is a Fenced Chicken Run Important?
A fenced chicken run serves multiple purposes in keeping your chickens healthy and safe. Here are some key reasons why a fenced chicken run is essential:
- Predator Protection: Chickens are vulnerable to a wide range of predators, including but not limited to, foxes, raccoons, opossums, and birds of prey. A properly fenced chicken run acts as a barrier, preventing access to potential predators, and helps keep your flock safe from harm.
- Foraging Space: Chickens love to forage and explore their surroundings. A fenced chicken run provides a defined space for your chickens to roam, scratch, and peck, allowing them to engage in natural behaviors while protecting them from wandering off into unsafe areas or neighboring properties.
- Plant Protection: Chickens have a natural instinct to scratch and dig in the ground, which can result in damage to your plants or garden. A fenced chicken run helps contain your chickens within a designated area, protecting your plants and garden from their foraging habits.
- Biosecurity: A fenced chicken run helps to establish a controlled environment for your chickens, reducing the risk of disease transmission from wild birds or other animals that may carry harmful pathogens. This promotes biosecurity and helps keep your flock healthy.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Fencing Materials
When it comes to choosing the right fencing material for your chicken run, there are several factors to consider. Here are some key considerations:
- Durability: The fencing material should be durable and able to withstand the elements and potential wear and tear from chickens. Chickens can scratch and peck at fencing, so choosing a durable material that can withstand their behaviors is crucial. Materials such as welded wire, hardware cloth, or chain link are known for their durability and are popular choices for chicken runs.
- Size of Openings: The size of the openings in the fencing material is critical to prevent potential predators from gaining access to your chicken run. The openings should be small enough to prevent predators from reaching through or squeezing through the gaps. Generally, a mesh size of 1/2 inch to 1 inch is recommended to deter predators.
- Height: The height of the fencing should be sufficient to prevent chickens from flying over and predators from jumping over. The recommended height for chicken run fencing is at least 6 feet, but it can vary depending on the breed and size of your chickens. Consider the size of your chickens and their ability to fly when determining the appropriate height for your chicken run fencing.
- Visibility: Chickens are curious animals and enjoy seeing their surroundings. Choosing a fencing material that provides good visibility allows your chickens to have a clear view of their surroundings and helps reduce stress and anxiety. Welded wire or hardware cloth are good options that provide good visibility while still maintaining security.
Types of Fencing for Chicken Runs:
- Welded Wire Fencing: Welded wire fencing is a popular choice for chicken runs because it is durable, sturdy, and easy to install. Welded wire fencing consists of galvanized wire mesh panels that are welded together to form a strong barrier that keeps predators out. The size of the wire mesh should be small enough to prevent predators from squeezing through or reaching in, but large enough to allow for adequate airflow and sunlight.
- Chicken Wire Fencing: Chicken wire fencing is another popular option for chicken runs. Chicken wire is a lightweight and flexible mesh made of galvanized wire. However, it is not as strong as welded wire fencing and may be more susceptible to damage from predators. Chicken wire fencing is best used in conjunction with a more substantial fencing material, such as welded wire fencing.
- Electric Fencing: Electric fencing is a high-tech option for chicken runs that provides a strong deterrent to predators. Electric fencing consists of an electrified wire that is connected to a power source and runs along the perimeter of the chicken run. When a predator comes in contact with the electrified wire, it receives a shock that deters it from entering the chicken run. Electric fencing can be effective, but it requires proper installation and maintenance to ensure its effectiveness and safety.
Best Practices for Building and Maintaining a Fenced Chicken Run:
- Choose the Right Location: When building a fenced chicken run, it is essential to choose the right location. The location should be level, well-drained, and away from potential hazards such as flood-prone areas, toxic plants, and sharp objects. The location should also be accessible to you for feeding and cleaning purposes.
- Plan the Size of the Chicken Run: The size of the chicken run should be large enough to accommodate your flock comfortably. As a general rule of thumb, allow at least 10 square feet per chicken in the run. The size of the run will also depend on the size of your flock and the breed of chickens you have. Larger breeds may require more space, while smaller breeds may require less space.
- Install the Right Fencing: When installing the fencing for your chicken run, choose the right material that is sturdy and durable enough to withstand predators. Ensure that the fencing is installed correctly and that there are no gaps or holes that predators can enter through.
- Provide Shelter and Perches: Chickens need shelter and perches inside their chicken run. Provide a coop or shelter that is large enough to accommodate your flock and keep them warm and dry. Perches allow chickens to rest and sleep comfortably off the ground, which helps prevent respiratory issues and injuries.