AUG 21, 2013: Advice from John Marriott of The Fence Line, based in Leicester

Advice from John Marriott of The Fence Line, based in Leicester Here are some points to consider when planning and building a chicken run. Space for the birds is important so try to give as much as possible and consider having two different areas so that one area can be given a rest and time to recover after a wet spell. Chickens are happy enough in relatively small spaces but the ground will become muddy and overused if there is not enough space. Grass tends to get pecked down to nothing with newer shoots pecked of as soon as they appear. The height of the fence is important to keep the flock in and predators out. Clipping wings will stop most birds from making a an escape over a 4ft fence. The best solution for a fox proof area is to make it an all enclosed aviary with a wire mesh roof. This does need to be high enough for you to comfortably get in, so 6ft high is ideal. A 2in x 2in mesh is perfect for the sides and the roof. Choose a strong mesh with a 1.6mm gauge. Traditional hexagonal mesh, often called chicken wire, is not strong enough to keep out the fox. Welded square mesh is strong but tricky to use on all but the most level sites. Choose a knotted fence for additional flexibility combined with strength. Pull the fence nice and tight to get extra rigidity; a puller or ratchet strap will help here. Sandwich the end of the fence between two wooden battens to enable the fence to be pulled tight. Strong posts are a must so make sure they are long enough and sturdy. Diagonal braces on the corner posts are essential. The bottom of the fence is a vulnerable place for foxes to push under the fence. Netting pegs are long wire pegs that will hold the fence down securely and stop predators nosing under the wire. Pay particular attention to the gate. Make sure it is self closing to avoid a careless accident. Hand the gate at a slight angle to the vertical to make it self close with no need for expensive gadgets! Or hang a weight on a rope to make a simple self close system. MORE: or call 01664 841 313.

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