after losing a chicken or two to dogs who like to “play” with them, i thought of an inexpensive way to help give the ladies a better living area. belina, jezabel and eloise have been a great addition to austin life. so, on a sunny 90 degree day in the middle of summer, i got a wild hair and decided to build a real fence. the chicken wire / metal pole situation wasn’t cutting it.
after measuring out a nice space in the yard, expanding upon the already plotted-out chicken pen, i figured 10 wooden palettes would do the trick as they are around 40″ wide. i collected the palettes from austin metal & iron, on the east side. being considered trash, the junk yard was happy to get them off their hands … no charge! after making a couple of trips toting them home (wishing i had a truck) i ran to home depot then got down to business.
to start, i pushed a palette up on its side; 2-3 wooden stakes (1″ x 2″ x 48″) were driven into the ground along the palette and the two were nailed or screwed together. after setting up multiple palettes and secured them, i used pieces of wood for trim at the top (approx 2″ x 2″ x 48″). these pieces also linked the tops of the palettes together, acting as added support. the wooden stakes and wood “trim” were both inexpensive from home depot. the door was a treat from the ReStore, a used building material supply store run by habitat for humanity. it ran about $40, was broken-in nicely and included the door and its frame. rebar was driven into the ground next to the door on the inside of the pen and, after being attached to the door, acted as a support since the wood was heavy. additional wooden stakes helped support the door and keep it upright. the door is an inside/outdoor style, so it should hold up for a while. after i finished the fence, i nailed chicken wire up on the inside around the bottom to keep the critters from trying to wiggle through the posts.
inside the pen, i left an extra palette and a large stump for the hens “decor.” the ladies are into feng shui, too, you know. the hen-house was built by an older local man whose wife had loads of hen-raising tips. it’s been a great place for the ladies’ egg laying. a few little antique collectibles were added to the outside of the structure. the fence has proven to be a success : happy chickens, happy dogs, happy-ness.
if you are thinking of raising chickens in the city, go for it! they are simple and pretty entertaining … plus, their eggs are delicious. there is a plethora of information online, such as this website where you can find info on raising these birds.