Fort fox(proof): building a luxury chicken enclosure

After the shock of finding that the chickens had all been taken by a fox last week, we decided to fortify the new poultry enclosure somewhat. It used to be a composting area behind our barn and was utterly overgrown with weeds that were literally above waist height.

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The chicken enclosure before it was a chicken enclosure

The irony of our loss is that we’d already started digging out the new enclosure behind the barn when the fox killed our hens. We always wanted to give them more space to roam and with avian flu constantly looming as a threat, we wanted to have a large enough area that if we had to pen them in, they’d still have a decent amount of grass to scratch about in.

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During construction once it’d been dug out

To that, we’ve added six foot fencing with a metre of chicken wire around the bottom (although foxes can chew through that, so that part is more to stop the hens escaping). We buried the main wire a foot beneath the soil to help stop predators digging underneath, and we’ve surrounded the enclosure with large and heavy stones that will mean they can’t get close to the wire to start digging either. New turf was laid so that when the hens are in this enclosure rather than free ranging our paddocks, they’ll have have something nice to scratch at. Our old hen house was thoroughly scrubbed and bleached and left to dry before being moved in, and is awaiting the arrival of our new fowl friends.

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“Chickchester”

We now have enough space for a shed to house all of the chicken food and bedding and other accoutrements in the enclosure which will make life easier, and we have more space that we can use for more hen houses for our chickens when they go broody and hatch the meat chicks. And finally we have a little bird-flap which we can open to allow the hens access to the paddocks where they can truly free range without having to walk through the main gate (which became ankle deep in mud when we walked through it several times a day this winter) which in turn should keep the hens healthier and stop their little feet rotting in wet weather. I have to admit we didn’t do this work ourselves. We had some brilliant gardeners come in and do the heavy labour for us but the design was ours. So bring it on foxes, I think we’re ready for you now.

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We farm a three acre smallholding in Hampshire, England, having fled London in pursuit of the good life for our little family. We mess about with an assorted menagerie and try to be as self-sufficient as possible in meat and fruit and vegetables whilst enjoying our plot and an outdoors lifestyle with our son. I am the luckiest person that I know.

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