I had never heard of a “chunnel” before receiving an email from Chris’s future mother-in-law Barb. She knew that we had been losing chickens to hawks, and she had just run across something on the internet describing a chicken tunnel, or chunnel. Might this be a good idea for protecting chickens, she wondered?
Why yes, it was a great idea for protecting chickens, while still giving them the freedom to be outdoors during the day. A chunnel is simply a tube made out of wire fencing that chickens can travel through, but cannot escape. And predators can’t get in, at least in theory.
I quickly set to work designing my chunnel. Turns out there a lots of different chunnel designs on the internet, but none seemed to meet my criteria: simple to build, able to be moved around, and cheap. So I came up with my own design.
I purchased 100 feet of welded wire fencing, five feet in width. I would unroll 50 inches and snip through the wires, and then do it again, and again, until I ran out of fencing. I let the natural curve of the rolled fence form the sides and top of the chunnel, so I ended up with a bunch of 5-foot long chunnel sections that could be stuck into the ground end to end.
To make the sections sturdier, and give them more mobility, I zip-tied two 24-inch pieces of pvc pipe cross-wise on the bottom of each chunnel piece. I could line the sections up straight, or give them some bend.
Within a couple of hours I had our chickens out in their new 100-foot long chunnel. (Not quite true: It took me several days to design and build a framed box attaching the chunnel to the chicken coop that would accommodate their chicken door along with access to the space underneath the coop where the chickens like to hang out on hot days.)
I’m pretty sure our feathered friends enjoy their chunnel and feel secure in it. When we walk through the yard, they all come flying through the chunnel to greet us. It is actually fairly humorous.
And it gave me another idea: chicken chunnel races. We have KettleFest coming up on September 26, and so we’ll have an event where the kids can select their chickens and root for them as they run from one end of the chunnel to the other. It should be a gas.