The chickens are thoroughly enjoying their new safety of living in a gated community. The fencing contractor finally arrived last week and finished off the wooden fence that surrounds our backyard, adding gates for our ease in getting in and out. Keeping the chickens safe is of prime importance, so finishing off the fence was our top priority this summer.
Actually, the chickens rather liked the former arrangement of the temporary fence, as they could see out into the world. They also loved the thrill of escaping into the side yard with its virgin grass and shrubs. But I think that the dog attack earlier this summer convinced the chickens they were better off staying within their exclusive boundaries.
They’ve quickly adapted to the pleasures and perks of security behind solid walls. This afternoon I caught them luxuriating in a community dirt bath, oblivious to everything around them except the cool soil they kicked on each other.
Now that the fence is up, I’m definitely more relaxed and I think the girls are too. In fact, I seem to hear fewer of the distress calls I heard from them earlier this summer announcing predators or movement from the ground or air. Not seeing dogs walking in the street or trucks rolling into the cul-de-sac must be contributing to their well-being. Let’s hope it continues - maybe it will even lead to better egg laying!
For those of you contemplating keeping chickens, safety is of prime concern. If you cannot provide a fenced-in yard (high enough that the chickens cannot fly over), your chickens should be confined to the coop and a fenced-in run. Do not let them run through the neighborhood. It’s not fair to the chickens nor to your neighbors.
The run should be surrounded by a predator-proof fence (preferably made of hardware cloth) and the fence should be dug into the ground at least 6-inches to avoid burrowing predators. If hawks or other birds of prey are prevalent, top fencing or netting should also be strung to prevent predator attacks from the air. Chickens are prey animals and therefore you are responsible for their safety. Make sure they are locked up securely at night and that their coop and run cannot be opened by cunning racoons, opossums or other species eager to attack.