We started our livestock adventure by clearing a patch of disused land in preparation for our new chickens. Unfortunately our patch of land sits between two (muddy) ditches and the neighbours’ fence. Oh, and it was covered in brambles that were older than us! After two days of splashing around in the mud and a serious bramble cleanse we then had a space for our chicken pen.
Once we’d finished building a small bridge to get to ‘Chicken Island’, we got stuck in on our fence.
Being big fans of using what we already have, we decided to build a wattle pen to keep them in. This type of fencing is an effective, eco-friendly alternative to chicken wire or other unsightly materials, although we did use some spare strips of chicken wire either side of our gate, for easier feed throwing.
Wattle fencing is traditionally used as the base to make ‘wattle and daub’ houses all over the world and has been used by livestock farmers in the UK for hundreds of years. It is comprised of a number of ‘sails’ or stakes in the earth, through which young branches are woven. Our fence is made of ash ‘sails’ with hazel ‘weavers’ laid horizontally, all from our hedges here in Norfolk.
We finished off the pen with a recycled shed door, secured with an off-cut of 2×4 nailed to the post.
Our neighbour was kind enough to donate an old chicken hut, and with a bit of scrubbing up and some more of the wood preserver, we got it looking as good as new and ready for our hens. Job Done!
In keeping with UK regulations stopping the spread of birdflu, we needed to keep our chickens enclosed and separate from the usual local wildlife fluttering around for food.We decided a mesh netting across our fenced area would do the trick but in order for us to get in and collect eggs / top up food and water, we needed to keep a small section above head height (Our fencing is only approx. 1m high). To do this we wove some willow shoots into an archway attached to the gateposts and hung the netting from this.