A new house

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Tweetypie
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A new house

Post by Tweetypie » Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:21 am

Since October last year, my girls have been penned into a rather crude looking fencing system. It started off looking OK, but as you wise ones stated, they can FLY over 4 foot! After many escapes, I decided to stop their fun. So... I attached some chicken wire around the original fencing, with the outcome looking quite awful. Even despite this being 6 foot high, Barbie managed to fly on top of the coop roof, which to be fair is quite low against a wall. She's a wise bird and susses out any weakness :-)08

Yesterday, I did what I said I would never do and I clipped their wings. :o Don't shoot me.

TODAY I had some 6 foot fence panels and 7 foot posts delivered. The OH and me are going to remove all the existing fencing and coop and start afresh. This time, there will be no escapees. I will take some pics when it has been completed. The girls are going to their usual "hen hotel" for a few days until it is finished.

I intend to have the coop in the middle of the run, so that they are unable to use it as a springboard to fly over the fence. I also intend to put some trellis on top, like a roof, so that doubly secures it.

The fence is actually heavy duty trellis, as I would like them to be able to see out and me see in.

The OH does not want them free ranging on the garden anymore as they did so much damage to the lawn and flower beds/rockery last summer :-(
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Marigold
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Re: A new house

Post by Marigold » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:15 am

Well done - I really think this is a good way to go, for those of us who have small or medium-sized gardens that we want to maintain in good condition. Also, it's much safer for the hens - even if you believe that, at present, your garden and area is fox-free, there are enough horror stories in the Pests and Predators section to convince one that it's always a risk. Mine live very happily in their enclosed run, and I don't feel the need to go out and count them every time I've been shopping! They have daily greens, high perches (which they choose to sleep on rather than in the coop!) a big dustbath, and plenty of space, with an interesting outlook over the garden. They have shelter against wind and rain, and shade in summer. And they can't undermine our gardening efforts!

It's good to be planning a roof, as foxes will be able to scale 6ft fencing panels with ease, and I think it's likely that the hens will also be up to the challenge. Even if your present quite placid hybrids won't make it, any youngsters you get in the future will fly out over 6ft, especially if you ever get leghorns or leghorn hybrids for their beauty and prolific white eggs. We started by putting mesh over the roof, but things got so soggy in the run that it made an enormous difference to both birds and humans when we added clear plastic corrugated panels and a gutter to drain away rain that would otherwise have blown in under the edges. So far, the panels have lasted 9 years, the run has remained dry and easier to keep clean, and the birds go to roost with dry feathers, which is important because it gets humid in a coop where wet birds are confined all night, and this can promote respiratory disease. With a roof, you can put the coop wherever you like with no fear that anyone will fly out. The whole construction will be stronger if the sides are tied together by roof beams and panels, like a box.
You've now been keeping hens for quite some time, to know whether you enjoy it enough to make longer-term plans for the best setup in your circumstances. And you only get one go at a major reorganisation like you're planning, so careful thought beforehand is a good idea.
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Tweetypie
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Re: A new house

Post by Tweetypie » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:10 pm

I think you're right (again) Marigold. I did think about that corrugated sheeting for the roof, even if it was over just a third of the area, to keep the dustbath corner completely dry. The big tree in the corner works wonders, but they seem to want to be near the sunshine.
I don't see or hear of foxes around here, quite surprising actually, as next door have a field, a pond and ducks. Top of the hill there is a smallholding, too. The only complaints are of cats going for the ducks! But as you say, peace of mind is better than regrets. The sheeting might have to wait a while, as the panels and posts and cement have cost £170 so far. Might put the mesh over it for the time being.

EDIT - Marigold, do you have an apex roof?
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Marigold
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Re: A new house

Post by Marigold » Fri Apr 05, 2019 1:46 pm

No, just a simple slope, with the gutter along the lowest side, discharging into a drainpipe which just drains away at an angle on to the earth. I did have a butt there at first, but found the connecting pipe got blocked up with leaves and mess in autumn, and as our dry chalk garden has good drainage and is always happy to have extra water, it works well for me just to let it run off into the soil.
We covered 1/3 of the area at first, but found that rain blew in from the uncovered part above, so that comparatively little of the covered area remained properly dry. Now it's all roofed, it's a much more pleasant microclimate in there, especially in winter. I've fixed willow screening round 3 of the sides, to give windproofing and also filtered shade in summer. The long West-facing side is open to the garden and that's where they sit on their long perch and look out at what's going on.
We added the roof panels on top of the mesh, once we found out how soggy it got in the run in wet weather. No point removing it, and it gives extra strength, though it did make it somewhat more difficult to fix the corrugated panels than if the mesh hadn't been there. If I were doing the job again I would just put the roof panels on without mesh at the start.
You do have to think about roof height - even with 6ft mesh panels, a taller person might have to bend a bit, especially if you add a 4in layer of Aubiose or other bedding. I installed weed proof membrane all over the floor, under the bedding, to stop them scratching holes in the soil and messing up the bedding. It's very cheap, lots of wider widths now available on eBay, just buy plenty of pegs to fasten it down at the sides.
poachedegg
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Re: A new house

Post by poachedegg » Fri Apr 05, 2019 2:23 pm

Like Marigold I too have a walk in run with clear corrugated sheets for the roof which the window cleaner washes down for me twice a year. I'm too old for ladder now! It has been the best value for money that I have spent. The girls seem to be very happy and content and as I have a healthy fox population despite living on top of one of the tunnels on the M25, they can't free range.
Their dust bath is an old low level hen house with the roof removed and replaced with weld mesh and clear corrugated panels.This is fixed to the run and filled with soil/sand and is now their sauna/chilling area where they stay quite a lot of the time with a glass of wine and a good book lol!
I did put the whole thing on slabs and bolted the run on to them and then Aubiose on top, never regretted the expense.
bigyetiman
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Re: A new house

Post by bigyetiman » Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:46 am

We have a similar set up also if we are not around the hens are in a run, even if you don't know of a fox doesn't mean they are not about. We do have foxes about and nesting Buzzard and Peregrine.
I know what you mean about the mesh, our run etc was here when we moved in and had mesh over it and we then roofed it which wasn't easy
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Marigold
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Re: A new house

Post by Marigold » Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:21 am

Tweetipie, when you say fencing panels, what sort are they? what kind of door are you planning?
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Tweetypie
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Re: A new house

Post by Tweetypie » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:09 am

The OH and me had a busy day, but it's not even halfway done.
The panels are heavy duty square trellis. The trellis holes are 4 inches wide, they cannot get through (tried them with a piece I had).
The run will be approx 15 foot square. The coop is going in the middle. The coop has a small enclosed shelter underneath it. The dustbath area will be in one corner, a place they already use, but I'm going to have it dug out so there are sides to it and put more topsoil in.
I'm not putting a roof on, due to the width and height. OH said he wont do it. The run area is on a slight slope, so it's 8 foot at one end, so the fencing will be staggered. The lowest will be over 6 foot.
The place under the tree is bone dry, nicely shaded however, I am saving the small enclosed pen, just in case they need it this winter. I can just pop it in.😉
Its not going to be exactly how I want it, but it will be far more secure than before, so i have peace of mind.
I'd like to have ordered a few tons of wood bark, but alas its a bit costly. I'll have to wait until I get a new job so i can justify the spend!
I'll post pics when it's done.
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chrismahon
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Re: A new house

Post by chrismahon » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:23 am

Just read this post and it's a good point about them using the coop to launch over the fencing- I hadn't thought about that Tweetypie. We're STILL in the process of building a proper enclosure. Have put 150m2 of grass down to replace weeds, cut back bushes, marked out and measured the area (232m2 using basic trig and Heron's Law). Went to get the posts last week only to find the Company have finished that side of the business! Now we are searching for a post supplier- no problem at 2m but that's too short, we need 2.2m because of the construction method. Coming up to 2 years working on it because the weather here limits things considerably- either too hot and dry or too cold and wet.

Marigold, we have water butts which used to block up with leaves. Our solution was full diameter pipes into the butts with a potato bag at the end to act as a leaf filter. We bought waterproof exterior tape from Aldi to hold them in place and just replace them when full. The overflow just runs onto the garden.
Margaid
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Re: A new house

Post by Margaid » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:10 pm

Hate to be a party pooper but when my Welsummer hens were taken by mink they were dragged through 4" sheep netting. So I woulnd't be too sure about trellis with 4" holes keeping them in. I'm assuming you are trying to keep the hens in rather than predators out - that's another thing altogether.
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