Chicken Fencing Options for a Paddock Shift
As you may know, I am a big fan of moveable coops with moveable runs, or paddocks. This allows for the chickens to benefit from the abundance of vegetation and insects, while limiting the heavy buildup of manure which leads to toxicity, disease, and a scorched earth look to your pasture.
Most people use a standard stationary coop with a stationary run. In short order the coop becomes diseased with mite and lice issues, and the run no longer has a single blade of grass. The chickens exist in a terribly toxic environment, only slightly better than the chicken concentration camps their commercial brothers and sisters exist in.
The “wagon wheel” is a better more advanced option of chicken paddock shift, but it is still not optimal. The “wagon wheel” is where you have a stationary coop that has different doors that open into different paddocks. The problem with this is you still have the toxic buildup in and around the stationary coop.
Free ranging your chickens can be healthy for the chickens, but you run a higher risk of predator attacks, and they tend to destroy areas that you don’t want them to destroy.
My preferred method of raising chickens is to have five paddocks that are sufficient in size for the flock, and move them from paddock to paddock every seven days. This allows the chickens to pulse through the system fertilizing and eating insects. This actually strengthens the vegetation, provided they are not left in an area that is too small for the flock size. This requires a lightweight moveable chicken coop, and a moveable run, or moveable fencing, or stationary fencing that is broken into at least five paddocks. If you can have your paddocks double as an orchard or food forest, you have hit a home run in my opinion.
As far as coop options go, my favorite is the snap lock brand of plastic coops. They are lightweight and easy to put on wheels, or two people can simply pick them up and move them.
When it comes to fencing options, I think it really depends on your flock size, your chicken breeds, your property size, type, and how much money you have budgeted for fencing. Options:
Chicken Fun Run (Moveable Run)
-It is great for placing chickens exactly where you want them to be, which is good if you want to run them through part of your garden, but not let them get into other parts.
-It gives them overhead protection from hawks.
-If you have good flyers like silkies or other lightweight breeds, they won’t be able to fly out.
-It is easy to build with our E-manual.
-It is cheaper and lighter than a wooden run, making it easy to move.
-If you like to pick up and handle your chickens, it is not possible to do that while they are in the run.
-I don’t think this is a good option for a large flock. I don’t think you should have more than nine chickens in this run.
-This run is not secure from weasels, fox, and raccoons, although your chickens should be going to their coop at night anyway.
T-Posts and Chicken Wire Fencing (4 foot high)
-Very cheap to install.
-You can put the fencing just about anywhere you want.
-My heavy breed chickens cannot fly over the 4 foot high fence, and I do NOT clip their wings.
-Lighter breeds can fly over this fencing, if you do not clip their wings.
-There is no overhead protection from hawks and other birds of prey.
-The galvanized wire looks fine to me, but I don’t like the look of the green ‘T’ posts.
-It is a pain to setup and move. This type of fencing is better for stationary paddocks.
Wood & Wire Fencing (4 foot high)
My new paddocks for my small layer flock are made with wood posts and wire fencing. I had been using T-Posts and wire fencing, but I just got tired of the look of the green ‘T’ posts. The same pros and cons apply here except the look is nicer. I like this option for integrating your food forest, and paddocks together with a small flock.
Electronet Fencing (4 foot high)
I have electronet fencing that I am using for my layer flock at the moment just until the seed I planted in their paddocks matures. This fencing will be used for the larger broiler and layer flock (16 birds) that I have coming this summer.
-Good predator protection.
-Relatively easy to setup and move around.
-Easy to put fencing where you want it.
-Heavy breed chickens will not fly out.
-I like this option for a large flock, at least 10 birds.
-Expensive, with a good fence, power pack, and solar panel, you can easily spend $500.
-If you have kids, they run the risk of getting shocked.
-You have to turn the fence off before tending the chickens.
-You have to push a section of fence down, and step over to get into the paddock. It’s not a problem for me, but if you have your kids tending the chickens, they may be too short to step over the fence.
Step in posts with plastic chicken wire (4 foot high)
I have not done this, nor do I plan to, but I think this might be a decent option for some people. Basically, you get some 4’ high step in posts, and weave the posts through lightweight plastic 4’ high chicken wire. This creates a cheap, very easy to move fence. I could see this working well for someone with heavy breed chickens that does not have much predator pressure, or much of a budget for fencing. Pros and cons are similar to the electronet fencing except this would not be good for predators, but it would be a lot less expensive.