How we built an orchard + chook enclosure
The open garden was a great experience, thank you all for coming!
To all those who asked how we built our chicken enclosure (and to those who missed out) here is how we built it. There’s a bit of sweat involved, but no building skills are required and no spectacular tools either. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures while doing it. For some steps a second person will be helpful. We never did design the enclosure; we simply followed an existing garden path. The construction of the door is not included.
So here's how it goes:
Design your enclosure:
- You can create about any shape you want; rectangular is the easiest, because you will need stays only in the corner posts. Stays are these shorter, diagonal pieces which keep the posts from falling over.
- Posts can be of different height, think of the heights of your fully grown trees. 60 cm of the post will be concreted into the soil. When figuring out the height of the outer posts, remember that chicken wire comes in 900, 1200 and 1800 mm width. Allow for digging in the lower end to fox proof the enclosure. We used rabbit mesh for the lower part.
- You will need posts at every corner, and about every 3 meters and some in the middle, depending on the width. Our middle posts are far higher, that it looks somewhat like a tent.
- The posts can be out of hardwood (second hand yard in Lawson), treated timber or galvanized steel, which is the best.
Build your enclosure:
- Dig holes for each post, as narrow as you can around 60 cm deep. An auger would be handy if it's a big enclosure otherwise a shovel will do.
- Now get the posts in. We throw some stones in the hole underneath the post. Take a spirit level to hold them plumb. Use one bag of concrete mix per hole. Do premix the concrete in a wheelbarrow with water, you will get more strength than just pouring the concrete in and some water on the top. Use a star post or similar to get the air bubbles out. Let it sit overnight.
- The next day, put the stays in, you need them at each corner, or wherever the direction changes. We he used leftover timber and screwed them in, you can notch them in too. The lower end is secured with stones; we did not use concrete.
- Now stretch the wires starting with the 'roof'. Eyelets at the top of the posts help to keep the wire in place. A piece of rope with something heavy attached to it helped to get the wire over the construction. The wire was fed through holes as seed in the first picture and fastened with wire stretchers (The second photo shows wire strechers for a vertical fence).
- Then clip chicken wire on, you will need fence clips and a special tool to clip it on (don't worry it's under $ 10). The chicken wire we used is big enough that rainbow lorikeets can squeeze through. When using finer mesh, make sure to give the ‘roof’ enough slope in case it snows. With the irregular shapes, the mesh overlaps in some places.
- After the roof is finished, it is time to attach the surrounding wires. Feed the wires through holes drilled into the posts or nail the wires onto the posts I find the first method way easier. For drilling holes in hardwood, I recommend beef dripping or similar.
- Clip the chicken wire on.
I hope, that was complete and understandable. If not use the comment section to ask questions!