As anyone who has chickens in an urban setting knows, the big enemy are rats. They’re cunning and determined, and given a chance they’ll eat all the chicken feed, and anything else they can find.
Three years ago we ran wire underneath the whole chicken run, in order to keep the rats out. The wire has held up very well, but there’s been a renewed push from the rats in recent months. This includes creating a number of underground tunnels and burrows, testing whether they can get access from underneath.
Concerned that they would become motivated enough to chew through the wire (which they can!), I decided to implement a more permanent solution.
The first step was to clear down to the layer of chicken wire running across the bottom of the chicken run.
I then laid down a grid of galvanised iron, to provide reinforcing for the concrete slab. This is held off the ground by a series of spacers.
The day before I’d headed to the local hardware store, and picked up fourteen bags of ready-mix concrete (thank goodness I’ve now got a ute!).
I mixed the concrete in my wheelbarrow, 2-3 bags at a time. In total, the whole process took about four hours, from the initial clearing through to a freshly-poured slab.The total cost was about $160, including the concrete and wire.
It was also good exercise!
At first the chickens weren’t sure about the slab, and were hesitant to walk on it. They’re over that now.
I’m also expecting the concrete slab to be re-buried underneath soil and mulch within a week, once the chickens get scratching. (The wire was previously buried under a foot of accumulated material.)
The plan is also to progressively pour further slabs, working up the chicken run.
Update: within 24 hours the rats gnawed a hole through the wire above ground to get in to the chicken run. Doh! Further reinforcing has been done, and I’m going to pour a little more concrete in some key areas of weakness.
I may have won this battle, but the war against rats continues…