After about 7 years of wanting chickens, I finally got one step closer. We’d already decided to dedicate the old allotment shed into a chicken house and had put in some supporting posts for the run last year. I got up early on Sunday hoping to make a start however quickly realised I didn’t have any hinges and the shops shut at 1pm, so I took Sam for a ride down to the timber/hardware store to pick some up. When I got back, it was already at midday. By the end of the day I’d managed to get the basic frame up and the door.
The roof is made out of 5 core polycarbonate. It’s a conservatory grade insulating roof. Why such a lavish roof? Well, when my roof started leaking last year and this had mould inside the cores, I decided to replace it and had this spare. It fits perfectly and has a little bit of an overhang which I’ve not yet decided whether I’ll keep or chop it off. Either which way, I’m sure the cats will enjoy sunbathing up there and similarly the foxes won’t find it easy to get in being that it’s so solid.
On Monday, again, it was a slow start. I’d decided to have a relaxed evening, so we popped out and bought some pork belly, german wheat beer and raspberries (for ice cream). We were back about midday and I got on with painting the frame with a couple of coats of fence treatment.
By about 1:30 we started the task of digging the shallow trenches to lay the mesh in. We followed up by laying the mesh and stapling it to the frame.
I bought the entire 30m roll from Hills of Devon (http://www.hillsofdevon.co.uk/) – A16 on their site which is 1/2″ x 1″ x 48″ x 30m (bit of an odd mix of measurements, but there you go. It’s 1mm thick, or 19 gauge in old money – I would have preferred 1.6mm/16 gauge, but it’s not available in the mesh size and length I wanted. I didn’t use chicken wire because foxes can tear through it with their teeth if they gain purchase on it. Welded mesh is tougher when it’s pulled because instead of being twisted in place (and therefore can stretch) each point is welded meaning if one link goes, the rest should hold fast.
We laid it flat under the soil because foxes generally tend to dig by the mesh, not having the brains to start digging a foot or two back to dig under the metal. You don’t need to bury it, you can leave it on top of the grass and just let the lawn grow through. For aesthetics and to stop small babies playing with sharp ends of wire, I buried ours.
You can see the above buried.
Inside view of the door.
We decided to do the bottom panels out of individual sheets of metal. For the 2nd and 3rd layers we used a continuous sheet 170″ long. The wire runs right up to the top to stop wild birds getting in. Because we used three layers we got quite a lot of overlap. The middle and lower almost have double all the way round.
I still need to lay more down from the shed into the ground to stop things tunnelling in and do the door (and bit above) as well as the inside of the shed as it’s partitioned to put the mower away.