Heather ButtonHow to make a fox-proof chook shed

In year 8 at my high school you have to raise an animal or plant, so I decided to raise chickens for my ‘home project’. My family used to have chickens, a long time before I had to do this project. They had a simply designed chook house, where the chickens had to be put away each night. Sure enough, one night we forgot to put the chickens away, and they were thoroughly enjoyed by some foxes.

Our elevated fox-proof chicken shed

Our elevated fox-proof chicken shed

This old chook house was demolished after the chickens were gone and when it came time to raise more chickens for my project, my dad and I had to design and build a new chook shed.

The idea of this new chook shed was to try to make it easy to manage; we didn’t want to have to put away the chickens every night. My dad thought of an excellent way to overcome this main problem. Instead of making a typical chook shed, on the ground with a concrete floor, we decided to make an elevated shed, with a wooden floor, bolted to four large wooden posts that suspended it about 1130mm (4ft) off the ground.

Chook shed with jumping perches to get in and out

Chook shed with jumping perches to get in and out

As you can see in this photo above, there is a series of perches so that the chickens can go in and out of the shed as they please. The door that they use to get in and out is always open. It is high enough from the ground that foxes cannot jump up into the shed and the perches are too skinny for a fox to climb up. This means the chickens can always go in and out of the shed, and they put themselves away at night.

Chook shed showing 'floppy' fence

Chook shed showing ‘floppy’ fence

You can see in this photo that there is a fence surrounding the pen. This is dug under the ground so that the foxes cannot dig under the fence and is loosely fastened to the posts. The fact that the fence is floppy makes it harder for foxes to climb up, so the perches are really a precaution. If by some crazy chance a fox manages to get inside the pen, they still can’t get into the shed. On numerous occasions, we have let the chickens free-range outside of the pen and forgotten to put them inside at night. Luckily they have managed to put themselves away and were safe from foxes.

This shed design has been very useful for me and my family, not having to let the chickens out in the morning and put them away at night makes keeping chooks a whole lot easier.

Some of our girlsThere are other benefits to this design too; on top of each post there is a piece of metal called an ant-cap. This means mice cannot climb up into the shed and eat the chook pellets. Also being elevated makes it easy to sweep out old bedding from the shed into a wheel barrow below, rather than having to shovel it up into one. The shed also provides a constant shade for the chickens to cool off in underneath it.

Not only is it good to be free of pellet-stealing mice from a financial perspective, it is good because if you have mice, mice attract snakes and where I live there are a lot of brown snakes around, which for the sake of people, you really don’t want around.

We also added an electric fence along the top of the fence and sensor lights to deter foxes when they are walking in the paddocks nearby. The electric fence is on the outside of the fence so that if a fox manages to climb up the fence they will get zapped by the wire at the top. These weren’t essential parts of the chook shed so they don’t have to be included. There’s also a heat lamp but that’s only for young chickens that need to be kept warm. These are all powered by a 10W solar panel and car battery.

With the chickens (and Danny the dog)

With the chickens (and Danny the dog)

Here is a list of all the materials and equipment we used to make the shed and get it ready for the chickens:

Roof screws (100), galvanised corrugated sheet, timber (soft), timber (hard), wire mesh, posts, ant caps, feeder, waterer, food, heat lamp, hinges, padbolts, window, angle grinder wheels, steel rod, posthole digger, starter crumbles, grower pellets, layer pellets, shell grit, sensor lights, electric fence, charge controller, 10 watt solar panel, car battery.

Here is the door we use to get into the shed if we need to.

The human-sized access door makes it easy to sweep out the chicken shed

The human-sized access door makes it easy to get inside to sweep out the chicken shed. As it’s elevated, we can sweep it straight into a wheelbarrow.

Easy access to the egg-laying boxes which are made from old cupboards.

Fox proof chicken shed2

Inside the shed

Inside the shed

Inside the shed

A old window provides cross ventilation on hot days.

An old reused house window provides cross ventilation

An old reused house window provides cross ventilation

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Heather Button

About Heather Button

Hi, my name’s Heather and I go to Urrbrae Agricultural High School in South Australia. In Year 8 at my school you have to raise an animal or plant, and I decided to raise chickens for my ‘home project’.

21 thoughts on “How to make a fox-proof chook shed

  1. meredith on said:

    thankyou Heather, I’ve just passed this on to a friend who has recently lost all her chickens to a fox –

    • Heather Button on said:

      Glad to be of assistance.

  2. Brilliant Heather, you and your dad have put a lot of thought into the comfort and safety of your chooks.

    • Heather Button on said:

      Thanks, it did take a lot of planning.

  3. I agree – brilliant! There is nothing nicer in a garden than a collection of happy and well-protected chooks. And it must be great not to have to worry about them.

    • Heather Button on said:

      Thank you, it is indeed nice not having to worry.

  4. Eugene on said:

    Great article Heather. I learnt a few tricks!

    One thing I do know….you can never ever get complacent about foxes.

    Roald Dahl said it best in “The Fantastic Mr Fox” –

    “I think I have this thing where everybody has to think I’m the greatest. And if they aren’t completely knocked out and dazzled and slightly intimidated by me, I don’t feel good about myself.”

    • Heather Button on said:

      Thank you! that is an interesting portrayal of foxes.

  5. Ann on said:

    Hi Heather,
    Love the look of the chook shed…just wondering how you access the shed to get eggs out?
    Cheers Ann
    Bega NSW

  6. Heather Button on said:

    Hi Ann,
    if you look at the first or third picture in this article you can just see two white panels on the left-hand side of the shed. these open directly to the laying boxes. There is also a door for humans to get in and out of the shed on that same side.

  7. Denise Benjamin on said:

    Hi Heather – love your chook house – well done ! Im in Queensland and have just had all my chooks killed by a fox ! Are you able to send more photos or actual measurements ? How do you sweep it out ? Im still concerned a fox could get in climing the perches ? How high are they ?
    Thanks again for a wonderful design
    Cheers
    Denise B
    Mudgeeraba qld

    • Heather Button on said:

      Hi Denise,

      The width of the house is 1800mm on both sides. The posts support the shed roughly 1000mm off the ground on the shorter side. The distance from the top of the wall to the floor of the shed is 1550mm. The shed has a 60 degree angle on the pitch.

      The sweeping is quite simple, you need to get in the shed through the human door and sweep it out the doorway which is easy because there is no threshold. the approximate heights of the perches in ascending order are; 200, 400, 600, 800, 1000 (all in mm).

      I hope this is of use.
      Regards, Heather

  8. Rowan Deerbon on said:

    Hi Heather,
    Do you have dimensions of the shed?
    What height is the fox proof height?

    • Hi Rowan – Heather has given details of the shed dimensions in her answer to Denise’s question above. Is there a different part that you want to know about?

      • Rowan Deerbon on said:

        Thanks Catherine,
        I hadn’t read the other comments as I’m new to this forum stuff.
        You say there are other openings to the chook shed, do you have photos of the other elevations?
        You state that the entrance perches are 200mm in height different. Are they 200mm apart as well?

  9. Virginia on said:

    Awesome design and very innovative with the perches. Thanks for sharing your project. I’d be interested to know what it cost you to make your chook house?

    • Heather Button on said:

      A lot of the materials my Dad and I used were leftovers from building our own house, so we had to estimate what they would cost to buy second hand.
      Of the new items we had to buy, including chook starter, grower and layer pellets, the total cost was $770.95.
      What we guessed the other materials would have cost to buy second hand was $165.

  10. Em on said:

    Really clever, Heather. I especially like the jumping perches. How do the young chickens go at learning to use this method of getting in and out?
    I’d love to adapt this design for smaller birds, like quail.
    Thanks very much for sharing, and for continuing to answer questions. Hope you’re enjoying high school. Congrats to your folks too!

    • Heather Button on said:

      Thanks Em,

      The chooks quickly learned how to use the perches to get in and out without needing much help. As it has been a long time since my project, we have lost a few of our original chickens from letting them roam outside the enclosure for too long.
      At the end of last year we bought some new chickens at an older age and at first, they didn’t put themselves away at night, only wandered out in the mornings, but it didn’t take long for them to learn to use the perches both ways.

  11. Yvonne on said:

    Wow Heather. A great project for all those years ago. You and Dad did a great job. loved reading what you had done. I’m about to embark on my own chook shed. My daughter is going to call it “Cluckington Palace”!! Thanks for all the info on here.

    • Heather Button on said:

      Cheers Yvonne, it’s great to know my project has been useful to others. Best of luck for your chook shed build!
      -Heather

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