We’ve had our chickens for about 18 months now and they are a joy in most cases. Raising chickens has been rewarding in many ways: We get the freshest eggs that are healthier than store-bought, the poop supercharges our compost and soil, and they are immensely entertaining. Nothing warms the heart more than calling for your flock and to see them come running. I’m sure every person who raises backyard chickens knows this special feeling. With all the joy our flock brings us, they have also presented us with some unanticipated problems. They destroyed areas of our lawn over the winter and they were a challenge to keep in the backyard. I’ll show you how to keep backyard chickens from escaping and destroying the backyard.
Keeping Your Chickens From Escaping
When it comes to escaping, I was curious about the chickens being able to fly out of the yard. We have an 8-foot hedge around the backyard and a fence on one side. Since they have been outside it has not been a problem and we chose not to clip our chickens’ wings.
My next task was to keep them from walking through a hole in the hedge. I ended up putting poultry netting all around the perimeter of our hedge after trimming. I assumed it would fill in and we wouldn’t notice it as much. It worked great for a while. One day we called to give the chickens some cabbage and 3 of our 5 came running. We found the other two in the front yard. I checked the perimeter and could not find a hole or break in the poultry netting. We had used several rolls of the one-inch netting that was 3 foot tall. Where one roll ended and another started, I had used tie wire to join the sections securely.
I could not figure out how the girls had escaped! And they continued to escape and roam the alley behind the house and stroll through the neighbor’s yard. I would come out of the house and our chickens would be hanging out in the front yard, nibbling on whatever they could find. It was beyond frustrating.
One day while working in the backyard I finally witnessed a chicken escape: One of the chickens was casually pecking on the ground next to the poultry netting. She just continued pecking and essentially lifted up the netting from the bottom and walked under the fence! The fence was originally secured tight against the ground and taught. After pecking around the perimeter for months there were sections where the chickens had essentially lowered the grade just slightly so there was enough space to fit a chicken if they had their head down and pushed on through. Quite the revelation! I needed to secure the netting to the ground as well and hopefully, the girls would stay in the yard.
Landscape Staples To The Rescue
The solution to my problem was landscaping staples. These are around 6 inches long and are for a variety of uses but mostly to hold sod in place when installing a lawn. Google landscaping staples to find a place to purchase some. I installed one every 2 to 3 feet by hammering the staple into the ground securing the poultry netting against the ground. We haven’t had a chicken escape the perimeter since we installed these. I am a very happy camper.
Keep Backyard Chickens From Escaping And Destroying The Backyard Part Two: Save Your Lawn!
Chickens will scratch just about anything to the point of scratching away your lawn. To keep your backyard chickens from destroying the backyard you can do a few things:
- Don’t mow as much and keep your lawn longer than you’re used to. The chickens do less damage this way.
- Fence off areas of the yard that you can’t bear to lose
Another solution I came up with is a movable screen that prevents your backyard chickens from destroying the backyard where ever they are placed.
I started out with a basic frame out of 2×2 lumber that was approximately the size of some hardware cloth I had lying around.
While we are talking about hardware cloth and poultry netting, I can not recommend some decent wire cutters or mini bolt cutters enough…they are absolutely essential for me and raising backyard chickens.
Once I had my frames screwed together, I attached the hardware cloth to the frames with screws and cut off the excess.
I place these around the backyard where our chickens have done damage to the lawn. A little seed and some time and the backyard trouble spots in the lawn have grown back since the chickens can’t scratch the ground under the frames.
There you have it, a few ideas to keep backyard chickens from escaping and destroying the backyard.