Keeping Out the Chickens

| 6/17/2014 10:14:00 AM

April FreemanWe have chickens. Right now, I have seven laying hens and 10 young pullets that are about 8 weeks old. They have a nice-sized henhouse in the barn, but I like to let them out during the day. They eat bugs, grubs, and seeds that they find, and they also help us out by scratching up the cow manure piles in the field. Their scratching and pecking in the fields helps reduce the fly population since the patties can dry quicker when they are spread out.

Unfortunately, chickens also love some of the same things that we do. Namely ripe, juicy tomatoes and the blueberries that are slowly turning from green to pinky purple to tasty blue.

Last year, it was so frustrating to see a tomato slowly reaching the peak of perfection in the sun. It would be two days from perfect. Next thing I knew, there was nothing left but the cap of the tomato. Those dirty, rotten thieves pecked up my tomatoes! Once they knew where the goodies were, they’d start dining as soon as the faintest blush of pink appeared on the tomatoes.

This year, I made a plan. I bought four cattle panels from Tractor Supply and four T-posts. Using zip ties, I attached the panels to the posts. One corner is held shut with a bungee cord to make an entrance point. With these things, it took me less than 30 minutes to create a chicken-proof fence for a garden in which I can plant my tomatoes. I also planted my peppers in there, and the panels make great supports for vines.

Garden fence

For the blueberries, I simply used some stuff I had stashed in the barn. Years ago, I used to grow strawberries. To keep birds from eating the ripe berries, I’d cover my beds with this stiff netting that was about 3 feet across. All these years, I’ve had it stored, certain that I would need it again, even though I don’t grow strawberries any longer. I also used plastic, step-in T-posts that we have stored in the barn.

6/19/2014 3:22:02 PM

My cattle panels are designed so that the holes at the bottom are narrower than the ones on the top. Since our chickens are large, heavy breeds, they can't fit in the holes.

6/19/2014 5:11:04 AM

I put up cattle fencing around our garden and had to wrap the bottom of it with material . The chickens where walking right threw the fence.

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