With the increasing cost of eggs, some people are turning towards backyard chickens. Not only are chickens great for tick and grub control, but they also provide eggs that keep you from having to buy eggs at the store. Chickens are also great pets for all ages.
Free-range chickens benefit from having a more varied diet with bugs and grasses. That also keeps your costs down by lowering the amount of chicken feed you need to purchase. With this varied diet, the eggs are richer. Studies find that free-range eggs have higher levels of beta-carotene and magnesium.
In addition to the dietary benefits, your chicken coop stays cleaner as your chickens are outside and wandering more and getting exercise. That keeps your birds healthier. But, with all of the positives, there is one big negative. Free-range chickens are at risk of predators.
Tips for Creating a Safe-Free Range Space
If you’re new to keeping chickens, the first thing you need is a chicken coop. It should be off the ground and insulated to keep out cold drafts in the winter. You don’t need heat lamps to keep full-grown chickens warm. Chickens have feathers for insulation. If it’s really cold, they’ll huddle together for warmth. Baby chicks do need warmth, but you’ll start them in your home or garage space.
Make sure the coop isn’t overcrowded. Chickens should have about three to five square feet of space per chicken in the coop. Outside, they need about ten square feet per chicken. If you have ten chickens, you’d need 100 square feet of space outside and 30 to 50 square feet in the coop.
Chickens like to forage, and they’re also great for taking care of vegetable scraps. Your fruit and vegetable peels and ends can get tossed out to the free-range space for your chickens to snack on.
Keep chicken feed in a rodent-proof container. Rats and mice are attracted to chicken feed, but you can keep them away by making sure feed is not left out in the open. A rodent-proof, water-proof, waste-proof chicken feeder is also helpful.
Use Flexible Fencing to Keep Your Chickens Safe
Pet Playgrounds fencing may be designed to keep dogs in their yard, but it’s great for securing your free-range chickens, too. The dig-proof fencing prevents foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and other predators from digging under it, and the flexible fencing is impossible for predators to climb.
Our fences are easy to install. You don’t need a post-hole digger or a shovel. Drive the no-dig sleeves into the ground about 20 feet apart. We give you a driving cap for easy installation. Insert the posts into the no-dig sleeves and use the included software to attach the mesh fencing to each post. Secure the steel tension cable to the top of your mesh fencing to hold your fence in place. If you have trees around your property, you can also use the trees to secure your fencing around your property.
The mesh fence has extra fencing that is laid flat against the ground to prevent digging. Consider putting the dig-proof section on the outside of the fencing where foxes and other predators will try to dig under the fence to get to your chickens. Usually, you’d put that extra section flat against the inside fence line, but moving it to the outside creates a barrier that will discourage predators from trying to tunnel under your fence.
The dig guard is secured to the ground using included 12-inch zig-zag ground stakes. The design of the rust-resistant ultra-hold stakes keeps them from loosening up. Drive them into the ground using a mallet or hammer.
Can’t Chickens Fly Out?
Most chickens do not fly higher than six feet, but we recommend going to seven feet for the utmost in protection. Keep structures like chairs, planters, coops, or tables away from the edges of the fenced areas. If your chickens get on top of them, it shortens the distance to the top of the fence, and there is the chance they could fly to the top of the fence and escape.
Pet Playgrounds has fences up to seven feet, and our seven-foot fences are Max dog fences with three layers of mesh. One layer is a 1,100-pound break-strength propylene mesh. One layer is a 1,800-pound break-strength rubber-coated welded wire fencing. Finally, there’s a 19-gauge steel vinyl-coated welded wire. Nothing is going to chew through or break this fence, ensuring your chickens’ safety.
How Do You Keep Birds of Prey From Attacking?
Keep your chickens safe by investing in fencing that coyotes, foxes, and neighborhood cats and dogs can’t get into. You’ll still have to contend with hawks and owls, but we have some tips for keeping them away, too.
Hawks and owls will try to get your free-range chickens. It’s their instinct. A rooster is a big help at chasing off predators, but there are other ways to protect them. Consider covering the chickens’ area with a mesh tarp. If you have a 20’ x 20’ area for your free-range chickens, cover the entire yard with a 20’ x 20’ mesh tarp. You can also purchase bird netting in sizes up to 100’ x 100’ that is easy to string across the top of your fencing and secure with cable ties to deter birds of prey.
If that’s not feasible, run thick fishing line from one side to the other in diamond patterns. If you cover enough to prevent a hawk or owl from fitting through open sections, they can’t get to your chickens. While a hawk may seem small, its wingspan often stretches a few feet, so you can leave squares that large and deter the predators.
Do you have a dog? If your dog gets along with your chickens, let your dog outside from time to time. A dog’s presence will keep hawks and owls away. Dogs and chickens get along great. Introduce them slowly and supervise their time together while they acclimate to each other.
When you purchase flexible, dig-proof fencing from Pet Playgrounds, you keep your chickens safe. Plus, your dog has a safe area to play. Our online planning tool helps you see immediate prices as you design your fence and any gates. As our kits come with all of the hardware and most of the tools you need for the installation, you won’t need more than a sledgehammer for a DIY setup.
Visit us online and start designing your fence. We have an FAQ guide if you need help. You can also call us with any additional questions or to have a professional installer install a Pet Playgrounds fence for you.