To construct a fox proof chicken enclosure after the predator fox had enjoyed itself on our favourite chickens. The fox was cunning enough to work out how to get under a chain wire fence and through a hinge joint type dog fence.
The Design ….
We decided to use a PVC coated heavy duty wire netting that could be buried below ground to stop the fox from digging under the fence line – the PVC coating protects the galvanised wire from soil acids and prolongs the mesh life – it also looks really good! A heavy duty wire netting (1.4mm diam wire) was used to withstand any impacts on the fence – falling branches, animals jumping at the fence.
The process …
Marked out the line of the fence for the digger to follow;
Used a trencher machine to do the digging (going down 300mm and over more than 120m length was going to take a lot of man power and effort) – the machine did it even going through tree roots in less than 30 minutes;
Used steel posts for the 4 corners as they take all the strain and weight of the mesh – we used 50NB xtra lite galv steel posts concreted 600mm down into the ground;
For the gate posts, we used 150mm diam treated pine, 2400mm long concreted about 750mm down, also used 100mm diam logs as the support stay for the gate posts;
Used star pickets spaced at approx. 3m, we used 2400mm long black pickets driven 900mm into the ground as the soil was soft and sandy – only took about 1 hour to drive them all in
We marked the star pickets at 1500mm from the top before driving them in to make sure we had the target above ground height – mesh was 1800mm wide so when buried 300mm into the ground, the resulting 1500mm high fence was quite adequate to stop the chickens from flying over it;
We used a 3.15mm diam galvanised fence wire fixed to the corner and gate posts, threaded through the top hole in each of the star pickets, used a permanent strainer – 1 per length of wire to be able to give as much tightening of the 3.15m top wire as needed;
Unrolled the PVC coated heavy duty wire netting along the ground to the side of the fence line;
Cleaned out the trench to make sure there are no obstructions (tree roots, rocks etc) and that you have at least 300mm depth;
Lifted one end of the wire netting into place at the starting point on the fence line that will gave us the neatest look / starting point – placed the bottom of the mesh down into the ground leaving the top of the netting flush with the top of the fence line – fixed this end of the netting to a timber gate post – used “U” shaped fencing staples (3.15mm diam x 40mm long, barbed end) – could have used 2.5mm diam galv tie wire for steel posts (lacing the netting to the steel post is advised) – once this end is fixed it gave us an anchor point to pull the netting as tight as we could using grunt / human power!
We then worked our way along the fence line lifting the netting into place – we temporarily supported the netting on the star pickets by placing the netting into the groove at the top of the star picket;
When we reached the end of the roll of wire netting or a point where we would join 1 roll to another, we pulled the mesh using muscle power as tight as we could – the netting doesn’t have to be guitar string tight!
We started tying the netting to the top 3.15mm fence wire - we used “hog rings” – a “c” shaped wire clip that is squeezed closed around the wire netting and fencing wire and to each star picket used a 2.5mm galvanised tie wire (tie at the top and 3-4 places down the star picket length including at the ground level);
Once the netting was all tied to the star pickets and top wire, we tightened the top 3.15mm wire using the permanent strainer – don’t over tighten this wire.
Once the netting was all in place, we backfilled the soil into the trench and compacted it – human body weight is all we did.
On this project we built a 1.5m high x 1.5m wide gate using treated timber (70 x 35mm framing timber) and covered the frame with the black PVC coated wire netting.
Overall, it took 2½ days to complete this project – 2 average males and supervision from the junior labourer and chickens!