Fencing out Chickens

Keeping Chickens out of the Garden

This is a long overdue post that I had meant to get up last year, but as usual ran out of time and got preoccupied with a million other things.  If you have chickens in your yard then it’s a very relevant subject, and now that it’s planting season again, I needed to keep my chickens out of my yard for several months while I’m growing things so they won’t destroy everything.  In this post I want to share the methods I am using now that I have discovered work the best for me.

I love this first photo of my two newest hens that I bought last spring.  A New Hampshire Red and a California Leghorn.  These girls got to roam around my yard the whole summer last year because I found that only two hens really didn’t mess things up so much.  Five hens, however, would destroy everything and scratch to death any plant trying to break through the surface, so the other three had to remain fenced in throughout the entire summer until October.  Later, I had to clip the wings of my two newest hens in order to keep them from flying over the fence so they wouldn’t roam into my neighbor’s yard.

I learned last summer why they call chicken wire “chicken wire”.  It not only keeps predators out of a hen house, but it also keeps chickens from sticking their heads through the barrier set up to keep them and their beaks out!  You would assume that something so obvious wouldn’t be overlooked, but YES, I am humble enough to admit that I did not fully understand the extent to which chickens could stick their heads through wire to access the plants on the other side.

This second photo is a great illustration of how far a chicken’s head can protrude through regular fencing wire.  The potato plants in this bed were easily reached and gobbled up by my hens as soon as they were a few

inches high.   Now I know that as much as I love the green vinyl fencing, because it doesn’t obstruct my view, it is not enough to keep the hens from sticking their heads through, so I have to reinforce the bottom with ugly chicken wire.  Some aesthetics you just have to give up for the sake of your vegetables. It’s actually not that ugly though.  I barely notice it now.   I have chicken wire around the one potato bed that is inside my hen yard, and along the green vinyl fencing where I grow my snow peas.

Then there is the challenge of how to protect your newly planted areas where you sow seed or put in little starts.  I came up with the idea of taking wire fencing and cutting them up into sizes that fit over the areas where I plant things.  I bend them a little to add some height so the plants have room to grow and get established before I remove them. These do a great job of keeping the chickens out and letting sun in.  I keep most of my starts covered until they are very established, because on occasion I do forget to shut the gate and the chickens get out.  It’s amazing how much damage five hens can do in just an hour!

My other method is to use tomato cages, especially where I have delicate flowers and herbs coming up.  The chickens can really do a number on my perennials when they first start to push up through the ground, and it’s very frustrating.  I don’t want to have to fence out my chickens as early as February and March, so my only other option is to place the tomato cages everywhere that I have my perennials.  It may look a bit unattractive, but it’s worth it for a month or so until they get some good growth going.  Once they’re high enough, the chickens don’t bother them so much.

I also lay tomato cages on the ground, and that too is a great way to keep the chickens from scratching up a particular area.  If you attach two of the smaller tomato cages together, as you can see in the 4th photo, you’ll get a longer barrier that does a very good job at preventing the chickens from accessing a longer row.

There are many ways people can keep their chickens from scratching up their flowers and plants, but this way works best for me.  It’s cheap, convenient, easy, effective and very easy to store all the sections of fencing when not in use.   I stack the tomato cages and hang them on my fence, and the fence sections neatly stack on top of each other.  Voila!  Easy to use, easy to store, inexpensive, and they last forever.

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2 Comments to Fencing out Chickens

  1. Austin Turner's Gravatar Austin Turner
    October 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I can see that your chicken wire fencing worked for you! Some of these fences are popular in Dallas too for the same reason. Have a nice day!

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