Stuart and I spent the 4th July shoveling concrete – over 1,000 pounds of it! The previous weekend, Thomas (my oldest son) helped Stuart take down the old chicken coop – the one sliding downhill! As usually happens when you do any sort of upgrades or repairs, you find something else wrong! The chicken enclosure is about 10 years old, and we found that the bottom pieces of wood were getting pretty rotten. We would soon allow access for crafty raccoons and other chicken predators! So… This week, I am writing all about securing the chicken enclosure and what it takes to protect your girls.
Securing the Chicken Enclosure Preparation
Piling large rocks along the lower end of the enclosure was a temporary fix to protect the girls from nocturnal invaders.
We also had to put up some more chicken wire to cover the holes left by the old coop. We use two layers of chicken wire around the lower half of the enclosure with 3″-4″ gap between the two layers. Eli Whitney supposedly got his inspiration for making the cotton gin from observing a raccoon pulling a chicken through a wire fence!!
Concrete was the answer to securing our chicken enclosure long term, with the help of Stuart’s handy dandy concrete mixer. He secured lengths of 2″ x 10″ wood for shuttering along the length of the enclosure and round the corners. This is the lowest part of the chicken enclosure and has always been the soggiest part when it really rains hard. Not surprising, really that the bottom pieces of wood had rotted! To help improve drainage we inserted about 5-6 lengths of PVC pipe. I moved big rocks in place to help keep the shuttering in place as well as using smaller rocks to block up the gaps along the length.
Using Help From the Chickens
On the inside of the enclosure, I used some of our recycled fence panels to stop concrete leaking in. I had to do quite a bit of digging to get the panels into position – aided and abetted by the girls. This process disturbed lots of wood lice and crickets – tasty snacks for them to gobble up.
I didn’t get photos, but there were probably thousands of daddy longlegs inside the old coop – huge balls of pulsating bugs. The girls went crazy eating those too!
You can see the panels I dug in on the photo above (although it doesn’t look like I actually did any digging).
It’s amazing how quickly chickens can undo anything you do in the garden.Their feet are amazing strong and they can kick dirt quite a distance away. Their instinct to find and eat bugs that they know I’ll uncover with my digging is very strong. I sometimes have to push them away so that I don’t hurt them with my tools! One of those situations that’s kinda cute but also rather frustrating at the same time.
Concrete to Secure the Chicken Enclosure
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again… You always need more concrete than you think you’ll need!
Luckily, Stuart is pretty good at estimating concrete so we didn’t run out on this project. We used 13 80-pound bags of Quickcrete to make the replacement foundation along an 18′ length and round the corners.
It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get everything mixed and poured!
We left the girls inside their enclosure while we did this – didn’t want them coming in contact with wet concrete. That could have potentially harmed them as well as making a mess of things! They certainly kept an eye on us while we worked.
Finishing the Job
Finishing the project of securing the chicken enclosure involved cold beer and grilled steak at the end of the day. It was hot, sweaty work so we had made sure to keep hydrated through the day. Most of the time, we were working in the shade of a big oak which made things a little more tolerable.
Tomorrow, we’ll remove the shuttering and tidy up the area. The concrete will be pretty hard but will continue to cure for quite some time.
We’re happy that the girls are protected from predators for a good few years to come.
Remember, it is important to check and maintain your chicken coop and enclosure – particularly if it’s been there for a number of years. If you don’t keep them safe, then they can’t provide you with their wonderful eggs!