Keeping them in, others out - high priority. Keep Chickens safe!
I've touched on fencing in the Fox page, but would maintain that...
Fencing is not so much to keep the chickens in, but to keep the predators out.
Maybe some people can afford the ideal of electric fencing or other more visually nice fencing, but some of us can't. If you weigh up the initial output of buying chickens (the cheapest part), housing them, then protecting them - it adds up.
I do not say that my way is for everyone. I'm semi rural and the chooks are pretty much out of harms way, but I'm unsure what my neighbours would think if I lived in a town and had corrugated sheets, bits of wire and whatever else on show. For state of the art, my Pen is not a prize winner!
So it's not only about protecting your prize Begonia's and vegetable patch, it's about controlling the natural things of nature.
If you are going down the more frugal route of wooden or make shift, here's a few things to keep an eye on.
The fence should be a minimum of five feet high (some say four, but I've seen a fox jump that - six feet is even better.
I have two sheets of corrugated iron high, about 4'6" and the whole way round I have put about 15" high of chicken wire with jagged edges. (Top picture)
At the bottom I have sunk the sheets about 9" into the ground. Where I haven't been able to do this, I have put heavy planks about 8" wide against the bottom to prevent Freddie scraping underneath.
I've done the same under the gates, this being something often overlooked.
Around the exposed sides of the shed, where I've seen wood starting to get a bit worn, I've nailed thick wire fencing to stop the slats being chewed (middle picture).
If you can afford a better system and go for all new chicken wire, go for the thickest wire possible with the smallest gaps. If a fox can get his mouth around the wiring, his teeth are like wire cutters! I've seen a film of this and it's quite eye opening. I would still go for jagged tops as well. Better still, if the Pen is small enough, cover the top as well.
Electric Fencingis obviously the best, but an area the same as my Pen would cost me in excess of £400. I'm afraid the chickens get the frugal route!!
For the smaller set up, there's hundreds of good examples on the Forum Members Chicken Pen Photos page'. They're certainly a tad more attractive than mine!!
If you have a Chicken Ark, see every part of it except the 'house' as fencing. Should you be going out for the evening, not getting back til late, bare the above in mind. I've heard the stories and 'have the T-shirt'.
They say a cat gets into place by measuring the width of it's whiskers against the gap. With the fox, it's the height of his head, so you're looking at about only 4".
I'm pretty sure that half the reason they tend to take chickens to bits in a Pen is solely to get them the right size to get the poor thing out.
Only a few days before writing this, I saw a beautiful fox stroll through the garden up by the chickens. Luckily he seemed quite well fed and didn't even detour or glance at them. But sure as I'm really good looking (!), come the snow and cold weather plus when he has some kids, he will be back for a closer look.
I've had my Pen this way for about 6 years now and FINGERS CROSSED, I haven't lost any since - but I still inspect it every day.
UNSIGHTLY - YES