After the tragic loss of one of our first four hens to our evil hen predator, Kahlúa, we needed a way to make sure that an incident like that wouldn’t happen again. Our first rudimentary hen run was actually just made out of pallets and fishing nets. I figured that by making a completely enclosed space, that they would be safe from any sort of predator, whether on land or from the air.
Unfortunately the space wasn’t as enclosed as I thought or would have liked. The hens, with all of their feathers, look much bigger than they really are, and our hen was able to sneak out from under the hen house and out into the yard where she was prey to our puppy.
We immediately looked into making a more permanent hen run, and set up a 2 meter high chain-link fence around their coop.
The problem was, I was a bit paranoid about always seeing my dog up against the fence eyeing the hens. In fact, she would start to paw underneath the fence to try to reach them, so I refused to leave her outside anymore when not supervised. That, of course, gets really old really quickly, because I had to lock her inside the house every time I wanted to go anywhere.
I looked for ideas on how to keep her out, but couldn’t find any that I thought would be practical for our situation. I didn’t want to have to dig holes in the ground to drive stakes all around the fence.
I wanted something quick, easy and attractive!
We did have the pallet fence that we had made and no longer used. So, I had an idea…
Why not make a pallet walkway around the hen run?
All that we needed to do was to cut the pallets in half, and place them around the fence. The pallets are too heavy for my dog to move, and they prevent her from digging her way into the hen run.
To make it look even better, I put plant pots on the pallets around the run. I actually like the way everything looks with the pallets much better than I did without them!
It’s also a great place for us to keep our trash can compost bins.
To help keep weeds from growing through the pallets, it’s a good idea to put some plastic or weed blocking cloth underneath them.
Obviously if you have airborne predators like Hawks, you will need to add some sort of protection above the hens.
Luckily, we don’t have that problem here!!
…Just a few pallets and a couple of hours, and we were set!
Kahlúa still spends hours watching the hens, but I have the peace of mind that she won’t dig her way in to attack them.
I really like to see the hen house! It looks grand. Do you still have it, is it possible to see a photo of it in more detail? Thanks.
Tracy Ariza, DDS
Yes, we do still have it. We may have to redo some sections too, but it’s held up very well over the years (amazingly). We actually just moved it last weekend because the tiny lychee tree next to it isn’t so tiny anymore, and I was having a hard time opening the doors to clean and change the water. We were afraid to move it because of its age, but it held up perfectly.
I can look for pictures within the next days and try to get them to you. (Either I can add them to the “Meet the hens” post, or send them to you by email. 😉
Sadly, we don’t have pics of the build, so it’s hard to show what we did exactly.
Thank you so much for the post. It looks beautiful and i will definately go to the dump to collect pallets. I put an old swimming pool cover over a tall pole in the middle of the hen area, then nailed it all around the fence and it protects the chickens from the hawks very well. I also got that from the dump as it had a few holes which were easy to repair.
can’t wait to see my little potted walk way around the area. thank you and good luck!
Tracy Ariza, DDS
I’ve been wanting to cover my area too, but we planted trees in the area and they’ve gotten too tall. I love the look of the pallets, though. We, luckily, don’t have problems with hawks here.
You can train your dog to protect your chickens. I have an American Bulldog, a Red Heeler, and a Pit Bull and they will protect my chickens with their life. If they hear an alarm call from the chickens they take off barking and growling to see what upset their flock. Birds of prey do not dive down because dogs and chickens live together in the yard. The biggest problem I have is keeping the chickens out of the dog food.
That’s great, Laurie!
I totally agree that that would be the very best option. My golden retriever isn’t a problem whatsoever and I’m sure she would do a great job of defending my hens. I let her out with them all of the time, and have complete faith in her to not attack them.
On the other hand…
My Bernese Mountain dog was a puppy at the time that I wrote this post, and Bernese Mountain dogs are known for their difficulty in training when young. There is a saying about them that goes something like “3 years a puppy, 3 years a good dog, 3 years an old dog”- which reflects (apart from their short average life span, sadly) how difficult it is to train them in their first years and to get them to “behave” as good dogs. 😉
We’ve definitely made progress and I can keep her from attacking the hens when I’m around, but I don’t fully trust her, especially when I’m not around.
The good thing about this method is that it is a quick and easy to use solution whether it be permanent or while you implement whatever other solutions you choose, whether it be training your dogs or whatever else you want to do.
My 4 hens are still well and happy and this has worked very well for us so far, and I love the way it looks.
Great post. I can recognize you are simply sharing an idea that worked for you in the hopes it may help someone else. No advise solicited. Your fence and pallet solution looks great. You did a wonderful job. Good luck with that silly dog 🙂
Yep, several years later, and it’s still working for us. The only thing that has changed is that the dog is a lot bigger now. 😉
All four hens are still happy and well.
It really depends on the dog. My golden retriever is fin with them. I sometimes lock the Bernese mountain dog inside and let the hens out to graze for awhile. My golden likes to watch them, but does nothing harmful.
I would still be careful. I had a golden retriever that dug a three foot hole under a fence to get to something she wanted. If your dog is motivated enough, she’ll dig under the pallets too, though it would probably be pretty noticeable and take awhile, so you’d probably be able to prevent her from finishing. Just be aware though.
Yeah we have to keep a roof over our chickens we have problems with chicken hawks, lost a whole flock to a few, that and the wild dogs I really despise people that come out to the country to dump dogs they don’t want anymore they go wild and starve and then go after peoples livestock lost quite a few that way too.
Great solution for the dog. Doubt it would work for racoons or skunks who seem to be able to climb over anything.
I don’t know. I live in Spain, and we don’t really see either here.
I would think that skunks might be able to fit their way through the links in the fence, too, which is a whole other issue. I have never seen one, though, so I don’t know. I do live on a mountain with small foxes, and it has seemed to work well for them. They are known to dig their way into anything, but they’ve never tried to get in with the pallets there.
The weight of the pallets really prevents (most) animals from moving them. Keep in mind that some pallets are heavier than others; these are pretty big. My dog is large now (a Bernese Mountain Dog), and can’t do anything with them except chew the corners a bit. 😉
So, I doubt most animals would be able to get between the pallet and fence to try to dig their way in.
Climbing is a different issue. We don’t really have climbing animals around here, so I can’t help with that. We put up the 2m high fence to prevent the hens from escaping out, but I ended up clipping their wings after they started to fly out anyway. Luckily I didn’t have any other disasters!
As with anything, one has to use common sense and try supervising at first to make sure it will work for your particular situation!
What works perfectly for my situation might not for the animals you are trying to keep out.
I LOVE YOUR DOG!!
Thanks!! She’s a sweety when she’s not busy being a vicious hen predator! 😉