The last couple of weeks have been rough for us, chicken – wise. We lost 6 hens to either foxes and mysterious disappearances (also probably foxes). We lost 3 rare breed hens which hurt the most, since, as you can imagine, they are tough to come by.
So I had a bit of a fit over it trying to figure out how to contain the free rangers who refuse to stay safely inside either chicken pen, because it’s the free rangers we keep losing.
That’s when Paul got brilliant. And also I kind of wondered why the heck we haven’t done it this way before.
Voila. Free ranger prison. Maximum – security style. (well, unless you’re a snake. But they can get into anything, let me tell you).
The two weakest spots were at the top (Tevye flew right out before we were done) and along the bottom, where they kept trying to tunnel out. So, the top has plastic mesh all around so there are no gaps to fly through, and the bottom has extra welded wire all around to prevent tunneling out.
Those chickens are not too pleased.
BUT. They are safe, and that is priority number one when you own animals. Their safety. I don’t care that they are happier free ranging, because clearly they are also tastier to foxes that way.
Believe it or not, this is still being looked at as a temporary solution. We still have landscapers coming (any day now………seriously……any day) to clear the property and then we will see how things lay in terms of fencing and chicken territory. It may be we end up putting a coop in this prison and let that be that, but we’ll see. For now they are clucking around during the day, and sleeping either in the dog shed we put in there or roosting on the sticks I put in the corner.
As Paul said, if they break out of there, they deserve to get eaten.
Keeping chickens safe can be a full-time job. The predators taught me a lot about what I needed to do to stop losing my layers. Each new mod cost me a hen or two. The attrition has slowed now, but every once in a while a chicken wanders beyond the protection of the dogs or the fences. I also have learned not to let the free rangers out when the weather is foggy or rainy – the coyotes and bobcats think of that kind of atmosphere as their invisibility cloak, and hunt under its cover. There’s just an irreducible level of risk we must assume every day, as farmers… poo.
Good luck with your new arrangement! May the odds be ever in your favor.