Building a Fox Proof Chicken Enclosure

The challenge  ….

To construct a fox proof chicken enclosure after the predator fox had enjoyed itself on our favourite chickens. The fox was cunning enough to work out how to get under a chain wire fence and through a hinge joint type dog fence.

The Design ….

We decided to use a PVC coated heavy duty wire netting that could be buried below ground to stop the fox from digging under the fence line – the PVC coating protects the galvanised wire from soil acids and prolongs the mesh life – it also looks really good! A heavy duty wire netting (1.4mm diam wire) was used to withstand any impacts on the fence – falling branches, animals jumping at the fence.

The process …

  • Marked out the line of the fence for the digger to follow;
  • Used a trencher machine to do the digging (going down 300mm and over more than 120m length was going to take a lot of man power and effort) – the machine did it even going through tree roots in less than 30 minutes;
  • Used steel posts for the 4 corners as they take all the strain and weight of the mesh – we used 50NB xtra lite galv steel posts concreted 600mm down into the ground;
  • For the gate posts, we used 150mm diam treated pine, 2400mm long concreted about 750mm down, also used 100mm diam logs as the support stay for the gate posts;
  • Used star pickets spaced at approx. 3m, we used 2400mm long black pickets driven 900mm into the ground as the soil was soft and sandy – only took about 1 hour to drive them all in
    1. We marked the star pickets at 1500mm from the top before driving them in to make sure we had the target above ground height – mesh was 1800mm wide so when buried 300mm into the ground, the resulting 1500mm high fence was quite adequate to stop the chickens from flying over it;
  • We used a 3.15mm diam galvanised fence wire fixed to the corner and gate posts, threaded through the top hole in each of the star pickets, used a permanent strainer – 1 per length of wire to be able to give as much tightening of the 3.15m top wire as needed;
  • Unrolled the PVC coated heavy duty wire netting along the ground to the side of the fence line;
  • Cleaned out the trench to make sure there are no obstructions (tree roots, rocks etc) and that you have at least 300mm depth;
  • Lifted one end of the wire netting into place at the starting point on the fence line that will gave us the neatest look / starting point – placed the bottom of the mesh down into the ground leaving the top of the netting flush with the top of the fence line – fixed this end of the netting to a timber gate post – used “U” shaped fencing staples (3.15mm diam x 40mm long, barbed end) – could have used 2.5mm diam galv tie wire for steel posts (lacing the netting to the steel post is advised) – once this end is fixed it gave us an anchor point to pull the netting as tight as we could using grunt / human power!
  • We then worked our way along the fence line lifting the netting into place – we temporarily supported the netting on the star pickets by placing the netting into the groove at the top of the star picket;
  • When we reached the end of the roll of wire netting or a point where we would join 1 roll to another, we pulled the mesh using muscle power as tight as we could – the netting doesn’t have to be guitar string tight!
  • We started tying the netting to the top 3.15mm fence wire - we used “hog rings” – a “c” shaped wire clip that is squeezed closed around the wire netting and fencing wire and to each star picket used a 2.5mm galvanised tie wire (tie at the top and 3-4 places down the star picket length including at the ground level);
  • Once the netting was all tied to the star pickets and top wire, we tightened the top 3.15mm wire using the permanent strainer – don’t over tighten this wire.
  • Once the netting was all in place, we backfilled the soil into the trench and compacted it – human body weight is all we did.

 

On this project we built a 1.5m high x 1.5m wide gate using treated timber (70 x 35mm framing timber) and covered the frame with the black PVC coated wire netting.

Overall, it took 2½ days to complete this project – 2 average males and supervision from the junior labourer and chickens!

Building a fox proof chicken enclosure   Building a fox proof chicken enclosure

Building a fox proof chicken enclosure 

Building a fox proof chicken enclosure

 Building a fox proof chicken enclosure

Building a fox proof chicken enclosure

Building a fox proof chicken enclosure

 

Building a fox proof chicken enclosure