How We Build
Predator Proof Pens
The pen diagramed below measures 20' x 20',
which is good for 2-3 ducks or 2 geese. Bigger pens with
less birds in them tend
to require less maintenance, are less likely to become
parasite infested and they have a better chance of staying
nice and grassy, which is good for webbed feet and also a great
source of vitamin A.
Keep in mind, this is how WE build our pens.
There are other ways of doing things.
Our foundations go at
least 18" down into the ground. We dig trenches where
the perimeter fence will be set down. The trenches are
at least 6 inches wide and 18 inches deep. We
then pour cement into this perimeter ditch and allow it to
set. After that, we nail 2" x 4" boards down on
top of this cement
foundation. These boards are the anchors for our perimeter fencing.
Did you know?
In our larger pens, the cement
foundations can be as large as 12 inches wide and go 4 feet into
Support beams should be placed 10 feet apart
in a grid formation throughout the entire pen and on its perimeter.
Some of our pens are built utilizing 4" x 4"
pressure treated, wooden beams as support poles. Metal
foot brackets are screwed into the base of the beams allowing
them to rest firmly on top of concrete pads (or on the
perimeter cement foundation).
Cross beams are constructed out of various
sizes of pressure treated lumber and are bolted and
Some of our pens are built using metal "dog
kennel" poles and brackets. Metal poles can be cemented
right into the ground to hold them firmly in place.
Cross beams can be made of metal or wood (or
both!). They are mounted utilizing brackets that attach to
the metal poles.
Your budget will likely determine the quality
of your perimeter fencing, but more importantly, you need to
consider the type of predators you are trying to keep out.
Option One (more
can work with either a
wooden or metal support structure. If you are using a metal
support structure, you can purchase tension brackets to clip
the metal fencing into place over the poles.
Our pens that are out in the open are built differently
from our pens that are set off in the forest. Our pens set
in the open grass don't need to be quite as tough. This
makes them more affordable.
We purchase PVC galvanized wire with the smallest
weave possible. Home improvement stores commonly carry wire
with 1.5" x 2.5" grid spaces. We always purchase fencing
that is 6 feet high to make it easy and comfortable for us
to walk through our
pens. The length of the roll (or
rolls) obviously depends on the size pen we are constructing,
but they usually come in rolls of 50 feet.
Then we purchase a roll of 6 foot
high, 1" hex wire (also referred to as poultry wire or
chicken wire). We tend to buy this in 100 foot rolls. If we
can find PVC hex wire at the time of construction, all the better!
We put up this hex wire around the perimeter
poles and then we put up the PVC galvanized wire over the top of
it. This makes a thicker, 2-layer fence with a tighter weave
that prevents dogs, coyotes or raccoons from biting through
it (because they can bite through poultry wire).
Option Two (more
This option works best when you
have a wooden support structure.
Our pens that are set off in the forest are
built with tougher materials. Why? Because predators are
better camouflaged in the woods and feel more comfortable
there. This means they have more time to try to break in
without being seen.
When building our forest pens we utilize a more expensive PVC welded wire mesh
as our perimeter fencing.
This stuff will keep everything out!
Keep in mind that this option is not only more expensive,
but it is also pretty heavy and harder to cut to size (you will need very good,
We use black, vinyl coated, 16 gauge, 1/2" x 1/2"
mesh that we buy in rolls of 72" X 100',
but other color and size options are available. Visit
Louis Page Inc
to order (remember to ask for a lift gate delivery
truck). We nail this fencing to our wooden
support structure using "U" shaped fencing nails.
In the above photo, you can see we used this same material for our perimeter
fencing and for our pen's ceiling.
Option Three (making
use of what you already have):
We had a pre-existing dog kennel already in
place on the property. We purchased roles of PVC welded wire
mesh and simply zip-tied them into place over the existing
pen. This keeps our ducks and geese from poking their heads
through the holes in the chain link, and it also keeps raccoons from
reaching into our pens and pulling at our birds
(which is one of their deadly tactics).
We purchased anti-fatigue mats to cover
up the hard, cement floor, which is not safe for webbed feet.
We use Soft Floor
Interlocking Tiles, Item #FM28, Green (other sizes and
colors are available). Visit
to order. Caution: this product
is not always ideal for geese who may pluck it apart.
Goose options coming soon!
The end result was a great quarantine pen
that doubles as an infirmary.
Whether you construct a metal
or wooden door frame and door, be sure to avoid dangerous gaps
between your gate and your door frame. The fit must be snug to keep
Gates or doors should be
padlocked; raccoons are excellent latch picks (as are people).
Our digging predator barriers
are buried underground and skirt around the
entire perimeter of our pens as a further preventative
to keep predators from burrowing under and into our
We use vinyl coated, 19
gauge 1/2" x 1/2" wire mesh that we buy in rolls of 36"
x 100' for our digging predator barriers (other sizes
are available). Visit
Louis Page Inc
to order (remember to inquire
about the necessity of a lift gate delivery
Standing outside of our
perimeter fencing, we dig a trench that goes 6 inches down into
the ground and 2 feet out and away from the perimeter
We unroll our vinyl coated wire mesh in front of
the each side of our pen. We allow for a couple extra
feet of mesh to extend out from each corner of the pen
before cutting the mesh. This makes for a good overlap
that protects entry from the corners of our pens.
We position the wire mesh so that
the top 6 inches overlaps the base of our perimeter fencing. We then secure
the top of this mesh to the perimeter fencing using
either heavy duty zip-ties or a hog ring device.
The next 6 inches of mesh reaches down into the trench.
Then we bend the remaining 2 feet of mesh out towards us
and press it down, so it's laying flat at the bottom of the
We do some quick cutting and
folding at each of the corners as we move around the
pen. We secure the overlapping layers of mesh together
with hog rings.
Finally, we refill the trench and bury the mesh
underground (except for the top 6 inches that are
mounted to our perimeter fence).
Ducks and geese need top cover to prevent
owl, eagle and hawk attacks in addition to keeping raccoons
from climbing over the perimeter fencing and into our pens.
We use PVC galvanized wire attached to our cross
beams in some of our pens, and we utilize aviary nets in some of our other pens.
We use: Extra Heavy Weight, knotted 2" mesh,
with a 125 lb breaking strength that we buy in rolls of
52' x 155'
(other sizes are available).
Louis Page Inc
to order (remember to
ask for a lift gate delivery
The weight of snow can bring down netting or
top fencing with inadequate supports. Braced crossbeams offer added
strength, but during heavy storms, we still need to do some frequent clearing.
Tip: In this photo the tree-tops
were not yet pruned, but we do keep them under control to prevent them from
stretching or damaging our netting.
Powered Electric Fence
Whenever utilizing aviary nets, we also
rely on electric
fencing around the top border of our perimeter fencing to keep
climbing predators (like raccoons) from chewing their way through
We own a solar powered electric fence
avoid any increases in our monthly electricity bill. We also
have a back up battery and a plug-in electrical charger
for less sunny seasons. Fortunately, we rarely have to
We construct our own jigs to support the
electric fencing and simply zip-tie them into place on our metal pens or screw them
into place on our wooden pens.
Tip: The electric fence will likely
short out during snow and ice storms. Fortunately, predators aren't usually
out in this weather. Remember to always shut off your charger before you
start clearing snow and ice from the electric fence.
Tip: We have a high voltage meter
on hand, so we can test our electric fence at any time and confirm it's
We began our sanctuary with Kiddie Pools. We always
sank our pools into the ground, so our rescues would not
trip over the lip. Duck legs especially are very easily
We upgraded our pools to cascading concrete ponds and
pumped stream water up into them. They worked very well,
but had to be re-faced every year because they crack in
cold weather. This was fine in the beginning, but after
a while we had too many ponds to work on every spring
and it became pretty inconvenient (and costly).
Tip: The one foot lip around
the edge keeps ducks from pulling dirt and mud into the
ponds while they are floating on the water.
We upgraded once again to preformed pond liners with
built in "plant shelves" for the ducks to use as steps
to get in and out.
If you are going to use
sheet pond liners, do NOT lay rocks or pour round stones
around the edges. They can lead to serious foot and leg
Tip: Many garden stores display the
most expensive brands, but can often order the less expensive version. Our
bean-shaped, pre-formed pond lingers hold 50 gallons and cost about $70
(before negotiations!). Our larger ponds hold 220 gallons.
In our larger enclosure (The Courtyard) we
constructed our own concrete pond. The excavator rental
for this kind of project costs about $1000. We built our
own concrete forms for a few hundred dollars more. And
the cement cost about $500. I know this sounds like a
lot, but if you were to try to have someone install this
for you it would cost close to $10,000 dollars! By doing
the work ourselves, it only cost us about $2000 dollars.
Stream water naturally comes into one pipe and drains
out the other. We also have a pump in this pond that
moves the water up into the ponds in our other pens.
We have a few natural water sources on the property.
Only human-imprinted ducks and geese are led to these
fun places and they are chaperoned closely at all times.
We use a Savio Water Master 6500 GPH, solids handling
, 750-1100 watts
Waterfowl Sanctuary 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009