Paul : I chose to construct a wire fence for my chickens as I thought it would be a relatively easy (though not necessarily cheap) alternative to having to dig and set posts etc. I also figured that if I did decide in the future to change to a wooden framed pen, or increase the size etc the materials purchased now could be reused in the new project. I am clearly not an expert on constructing any kind of fence but I am sending this in in case it might be helpful to someone else. If anyone is thinking of doing the same, before starting it is probably wise to check if there are any restrictions that might apply to you such as if permission is needed, or if there are guidelines for height or proximity to neighbours.
Chicken wire is quite pliable so although it will keep your chickens in, if it is the only thing between your chickens and any potential predators they will get almost no protection from it. They would be much safer if welded wire is used as it is much harder to bite or break through.
Locate the area of your property you want to fence in and mark it out. Landscaping paint is a great way to do this. If possible, try to get a rough estimate of your fenced-in area’s perimeter. Don’t forget to mark a space for a gate
Purchase or gather your supplies. From my research on the internet it seems that a fence for chickens should be at least 6 feet (especially if it is their only protection and/or it is to be covered and you want to be able to do your chores without being bent over double the whole time).
Fence posts can be wooden, but for the sake of simplicity and to save digging post holes and putting concrete around them etc. my preferred choice were ‘T’ posts which could just be banged in with a sledge hammer. I used wire ties to attach the wire to the posts so I wouldn’t have to mess around with trying to hook the fence onto the t-post hooks.
I later read that it would have made the fence stronger if the four corner posts were wooden ones, I’m going to leave it as is for now, but if it proves necessary I think additional supportive corner wooden posts could quite easily be put in place even at this late stage. I did use wooden posts to support the gate and hinges and latch for it and just made a simple one by constructing a wooden frame and attaching some of the wire to it.
A fenced area like mine of 30 feet by 15 feet would take 100 feet of welded wire (with a little bit left over in case of error). It would also use 18 ‘T’ posts spaced at 5 foot intervals (or 14 if you make the four corner posts wooden ones). That results in quite a spacious fenced area for my 6 chickens and their coop but I know I probably won’t be letting them out into the main garden very often so I wanted to make sure they could still be comfortable if confined there on a semi-permanent basis.
The first chicken pen I made for my original three chickens was never very successful at keeping rats out so with this one I wanted to try the ‘wire skirt’ method (which should keep out all digging predators as well as rats hopefully) and used an additional 100ft of 3ft wire so that I could give the fence a 2ft ‘skirt’ all the way around. It added additional costs, but if it works will have been an easier solution than one of the alternatives such as digging down 2 feet all the way around and pouring in concrete.