Saturday, March 21, 2009


Dave -

I need to fence in an area for the chickens having a perimeter of about 180 feet. As a kid growing up on a farm, I helped my dad put in what seems like miles of fence. I visited the old farmstead last summer and that 40 year old fence is still in place and still straight and taut as the day it was put in. In other words, when it comes to fencing, I'm no hayseed cowboy and this ain't my first rodeo.

I have come to the conclusion that chicken wire should not even be considered "fencing". The stuff must be made of 22 gauge wire (thin!!!) and it is twisted together so that it is almost impossible to install in an acceptable manner. Following fencers' "best practices," I used a 2x4 to "clam shell" the wire. I pulled the 2x4 but because of the way that chicken wire is woven, different parts of the damn fence just stretched. I could get either the top, bottom, or middle stretched taut but the remaining fence just billowed like sails on a windless day. My job was made especially difficult inasmuch as the chicken wire is 60-inches high.

Chicken wire is probably used primarily to shore up existing fence or keep pests (read: chickens) from getting into or out of a small area. I went online looking for advice from others that have walked this road before and they confirmed my feelings, to wit you cannot install chicken wire in a taut manner for any length greater than 6 feet.

One option is to put up a 5 foot wooden perimeter fence. At $60 per foot, my vote would be for ten chicken dinners.

Another option is to put in "regular" fence and then tack an 18 inch high piece of chicken wire at the bottom of the "real" fence. This is really little more than just a "feel good" fence since any chicken worth its wings (or drumsticks or thighs) would have little problem hopping the 18 inch piece of chicken wire and jumping through the 4 by 6 inch grid typical of a "real" fence. And since a chicken cannot be slowed down by an 18 inch piece of chicken wire, why even bother with it.

A final option is to let the chickens roam freely. Our yard is fenced in by 6 foot high wooden fences on three sides. The chickens would have to wander more than 150 feet before escaping their little Shangri-la. The chicken hawks, foxes, coyotes, cats, and dogs would ensure that they wouldn't get too far.

Stay tuned for how this matter gets settled (i.e. wait until Shirley decides what I should be thinking).

1 comment:

  1. Does it have to be that taut? chicken dinners are *not* an option. :)