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Author Topic: advice please on setting up for a new "flock" of hens  (Read 1770 times)


  • Joined Mar 2013
advice please on setting up for a new "flock" of hens
« on: April 11, 2013, 11:20:12 am »
Our last little flock of 4 hens went to the great barnyard in the sky some years ago, but we're now planning on having a somewhat bigger flock of 8-12 girls and want to make sure that I plan this right.

We have quite a bit of land (agricultural and garden) and the last flock were allowed to run completely free range, let out first thing in the morning and locked in at night.  They did completely wreck the garden and we've now got used to things that we've planted staying on one place, so I'm going to fence them in.

I can see 2 options.  Either a nice big permanent enclosure that I can properly protect against predators, or a temporary fence arrangement that I can move about periodically.  The hen house would then either be permanently sited, or movable.

What's your advice on the pros and cons of both approaches?  Is one much better than the other?

Also, I'm thinking of an electric door opener.  These days I have a job that means I'm usually back after dark much of the year and don't really want to rely on my "Assistant Chicken Keepers" (ages 3 & 8) to lock the girls safely in at night.  Do they work well (the doors, not my boys) and is there anything I should consider in the chicken house pop door "design" or are they all pretty much the same and capable of being automated?



  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Kent
  • HesterF
Re: advice please on setting up for a new "flock" of hens
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2013, 11:43:35 am »
We've got a big run - 20m by 8m with a fox proof fence (goes up to 7ft with an overhang and dug down 18 inches) with a pair of geese, four ducks (currently) and a varying number of chickens - 11 at the peak - in. I do let them free range when I'm about though - mostly because the geese need more room, the rest like the free ranging but not as necessary. For me it's a big advantage because if I'm not around I know they're safe and I don't have to be back before dark to shut them up. It did, however, cost more than £1k to get it set up - mostly just material costs for that amount of fencing and pressure treated posts.

So upside is security which will depend on your fox population. Down side is cost and that I know we already have a worm problem in there and that was after just a couple of months. I'm hoping to be able to fence in a bigger area (about an acre) next year, to include the apple & pear orchard too. But then I want to have more geese and partly to make sure they're secure at all times, partly to make sure we are secure from them - more particularly any guests we have staying in our soon to be built holiday cottage.

Don't know about automatic door openers 'cos I'm normally around. I have heard the odd tale about chickens being caught out but I don't know how unusual that is.



  • Joined Feb 2010
  • Anglesey
Re: advice please on setting up for a new "flock" of hens
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2013, 11:46:43 am »
If you've got plenty of space definitely go for a moveable set up. Being able to move them on to fresh ground periodically is a big help. If you're not bothered about the aesthetics get some heras fence panels for a pretty secure but easily moved run. Don't use the clamps they come with just tie them together and use the panels upside down so there's no gap at the bottom. You might want to add an electric fence wire around the bottom to deter anything from digging under. This has worked for us for over three years and the only incident we've had was because I forgot to close  up securely. There are foxes about I've tracked them in the snow but none have got in so far, touch wood.


  • Joined Sep 2010
  • Mid Wales
Re: advice please on setting up for a new "flock" of hens
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2013, 12:59:20 pm »
  I've got a permanent pen which is about 20m x 15m. Just over half of this has my 6 muscovies, assorted chooks (about 15) and a turkey in it. The other section is divided into two seperate bits. One bit for my Dutch bantams, the other bit for my Gold Spangled Appenzellers. At the moment only the ducks are allowed to free range over my 1 acre as the grass is just beginning to come through and I would like some to grow this year rather than being decimated.
  We are building a permanent chicken palace, concrete base etc to house all the the chooks in. This will be divided to accommodate my breeding stock. We have had fox problems when the birds are out in the daytime but never when they've been in their pen. The sides of the pen are about 7' high and dug into the ground about a foot. The sides are quite wobbly as if you tension the wire, Mr Fox is more able to climb it!
   The main problem with a permanent pen is the mud when the birds are in it all the time. Whatever you put down on the floor, the mud will always come through it. I've had road planings and very large wood chippings. I generally put something on the floor every year. The wood chippings has been the cheapest and nicest to look at. Because the chooks are penned, I worm twice a year. We also have wild pheasants that eat the corn and they bring in worms too.
Silly Spangled Appenzellers, Dutch bantams, Lavender Araucanas, a turkey called Alistair, Muscovy ducks and Jimmy the Fell pony. No pig left in the freezer, we ate him all!


  • Joined Apr 2012
  • Suffolk
Re: advice please on setting up for a new "flock" of hens
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2013, 04:45:44 pm »
Just regarding size of enclosure. I've set ours up with 50m poultry netting and a flock of 9 large fowl have easily kept on top of the grass. Admittedly it hasn't been growing weather but they will need to be moved and old enclosure re-seeded/left to recover.


  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Bala, North Wales
    • Facebook
Re: advice please on setting up for a new "flock" of hens
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2013, 06:06:51 pm »
NOt sure how big your veg patch is - but it might be easier to fence that in?  Thats what we are doing at the mo, cause I'm fed up of not being able to grow anything!


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