Our netted chook run and future orchard

Principle 7: Design from patterns to details

We got our first three pullets (Golden Pencil Hamburg crosses) a year ago from my mate Dylan who was 'cleaning up' this rare chicken breed. I set up a temporary netted yard to prevent them escaping, which they were keen to do early on, using old children's play equipment as a chook house. I clipped their wings but found this an unsuccessful way to prevent these flighty birds from taking off. I eventually gathered the courage to let them out to free range and had a number of interesting episodes trying to get them to return home. On three occasions I'd given up on escapees, once in a neighbours yard (with a dog), once on another neighbours roof and once found at night in the reeds down the creek after the kids had chased them away - somehow we still have all three.
We waited nearly six months before we got our first egg, which was very exciting for us all. Before long we were getting up to three eggs a day and our girls were returning home with just a clap of the hands.

We got up to three eggs a day from our three young chooks
Letting the chickens out to free range has it's pluses and minuses. The slaters (Woodlouse) are hardly a problem in the back yard, but are a real problem in the front where the chickens rarely venture. They get a rich and varied diet at the expense of some of our young plants. Protection of seedlings is essential to ensure survival, and I tend to only let them out for an hour or so in the evening to prevent too much garden damage.
I had been giving thought to the idea of a intensive netted area that provided a larger safe place for our chickens to scratch around as well as grow soft fruit trees that are irrigated using our grey water. After many ideas I settled on using two inch poly pipe on star pickets for the frame with a material netting. Stage one was getting the netted enclosure completed to provide easier access to the chooks and a place to dump green waste for the chooks to scratch up.

Three hooped two inch poly piping mounted on star pickets form the frame of the new chook run, replacing the temporary one on the right.

Three sheets of corrugated iron were screwed together on the ground and then screwed to timber attached to the star pickets

Wire threaded through and wound onto screws attach one side of the net
Netting pulled over hoops and attached to timber battens to give even tension

Netting wound around battens and screwed to inside of corrugated iron. Old roofing tiles set below ground level to deter dogs and foxes.

Stiff wire mesh fills the gaps on the western side of the orchard 
Wire mesh added to base to create a dog / fox proof chook house

Aluminium security door fixed to metal pole with small concrete path section underneath
Stage one of the netted chook run complete

It's about 8x3 metres and 2.8 metres at it's highest point and looks kinda sleek with those curves.


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