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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Prevent Predators Digging Under Chicken Pen


There are some difficult ways and expensive ways, and cruel-to-chicken ways to prevent raccoons, dogs, or other digging predators from entering the chickens pen or chicken house. My way is cheap and humane.

It is expensive and cruel, in my opinion, to pour concrete for this purpose. Hens love to scratch in the dirt. Even if the concrete is a foot under the ground, they will get to it and might hurt their feet or toenails.

Putting hardware cloth down on the floor of the pen has the potential to cause injury also.

Digging down a foot to bury wire that extends up the outside of the coop or pen is a great idea. However, I cannot dig that far. I don't know anyone who is willing to dig that far, not for love nor money.

Maybe pouring a footer just outside the fenced area would work. However, I have a better way for me. It was free and Charlie put it down. Oh, yeah. He gave me the wire. He found it on the curb and thought maybe I could use it.

My Way
Can you see the 2' x 4' grid of wire?

Charlie raised the 10' x 10' pen while I dragged this in place. It is 4' wide. We cut four pieces that were 16' long so the outside corners would be protected. It overlaps. The corners are actually doubled. Three feet are extending along the ground outside the pen. One foot extends into the pen. Raccoons will dig at the bottom of the chain link pen. They will not reason that they should move back three feet and dig under. A raccoon would give up.
Behind the pen
You may be able to see it above. I can see it because I know where it is. I have taken a picture of the full width of the hog wire or dog wire, whichever you call it. It runs from the bottom of the picture and under the chain link pen and extends about a foot into the pen. I stack bricks behind the pen because there is a slight incline toward the back of the pen that soaks the ground in the pen. Eventually, water washes dirt and leaves against the bricks and the pen becomes less damp.

Inside the pen

Inside the pen you can see at the left of the chain link  the edge of the wire. I think sometimes that the hens are trying to dig their way out. At least, they won't relentlessly scratch the wire. They have a choice to move over.
When I was considering how to put this down, I was more concerned with how I could avoid tripping on it. How could a lawn mower go over it without getting tangled in the edges and the raggedy parts? You see, this was not a perfect piece of wire, It had raggedy places I could get snagged on.
Garden staples hold the wire down
These are easy to poke into dirt after a rain. I put them about 6" apart where the wire is bent. At other places, 18" apart is about right. I am using 80 staples for the edges that equal 56". The grass is growing over this in one part of the perimeter, so it does not show at all.

                                          Garden staples are almost five inches long.

I have bent a coat hanger to hold a hose down along the lawn, but that is another story. If you have the time and strength in your hands, bent, wire clothes hangers would work.

(Hurry and go HERE for Sluggy's Giveaway! Tonight, it ends.
Your turn
Did you dig a trench and bury mesh wire one foot down as recommended to protect your hens from digging predators? Who was your hero there? What safety measures have you taken to secure the bottom of your hens/turkey/animals  pens from raccoon, dogs or other digging animals? Do you use garden staples for anything around your house?


  1. Last summer, we had almost 80 days without any rain. The hens scratched down quite a ways in their coup. This spring, the boys added chicken wire around the bottom of the fence, and then added several yards of dirt on top of the chicken wire. My dog has not been able to dig in ( she likes the chickens- my one hen will chase her though), and predators have not gotten in either. I have not seen the hens scratch along that part of the fence- so at the moment I am counting it as a success.

    1. Jason/Michelle,
      I love success that protects hens. I think Devil Dog has given up trying to catch my hens. He is always wandering up and down a street near me, so maybe he has found someone else to visit.

      I keep stepping in holes around the yard and in the pen where they just dig a great big hole for a dust bath.

  2. Linda it looks as if you have come up with a good solution!

    1. Janet,
      It has worked so far. Thanks. I cannot imagine how it could fail.

  3. You need snares. Google is your friend, or Youtube.

    1. I have a live trap, but I catch cats, squirrels, and one armadillo. Even when I catch raccoons, they just keep coming. Dinner in the pen is too Snares are a good idea, but I could not bend down to get them made or set. Thanks for the idea. I may have the whole place in snares, traps, and booby traps if I lose another thanks.

  4. I don't have hens, of course, but I used to have a problem with The Z-Boys getting under the deck, then under the house, and making a jail break from there. Favorite Young Man put a trellis around the bottom of the deck. He dug down quite far to put it in the ground to keep The Z-Boys from digging under it. FYM is young and strong.


    1. Janie,
      Who are the Z-boys?

    2. My three dogs, known as the Z-Boys because of a movie called Dogtown and Z-Boys.

    3. Thanks. I miss out on lots of popular culture.


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