Willow Chicken Run

Trying to dissuade my guilt for not letting my chickens out as much as they would like, I wanted to add a chicken run to my coop.  So in true Ivie fashion, I put the cart before the horse and cut a hole into my coop, and built a run out of cattle panels and t-posts.  

The ultimate goal was to create a living fence with willows woven through the cattle panels, but I didn’t have the time immediately so I put orange construction mesh around until I did.  For the next two months, I chased three of my chickens (leghorns of course!) out of my uncovered garden.  I replanted several times as they decimated my seedlings!

Finally, we took the whole family on a willow cutting adventure and I was ready to create my fence.  Two months of thinking about the effort it would take to contain and maintain a living willow fence, changed my mind about the living part.  Instead I wove the willows sideways only, not placing any of the ends into the dirt.  Willows have a natural rooting hormone (indolebutyric acid IBA).  You can cut them down and place them in damp dirt, and they will sprout new roots and start to grow. There is even a method of extracting this rooting hormone for use on other plants.   There are many fun pictures of living fences people have taken the time to cultivate.  I love the look, but, having many children, endless projects, and little time, I cheated.

I started with the cattle panels, and wove willow branches through the wire to hide it.  I was quite pleased with the results, and it only took an afternoon.  Willows are quite easy to work with, and even though mine sat for a month before I took time to weave them, they still worked fine.

I was however, furious the next morning at 8:00 to find that two chickens had made their way out!  How had they done that?  I thought I had made it tall enough, but I watched in disbelief as one flew right over the fence!

So…until I find something that looks a little more “earthy” to match the look of the willow, I took chicken wire and wired it on top.  It isn’t my favorite solution, but the chickens have been successfully contained for nearly a week!



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