Flight pen construction

Pen Construction

One of the most expensive requirements on a game bird farm are covered pens. It is important to build your pens in such a way that they will do what they are supposed to do "keep the birds in and predators out". Other considerations are 1) cost 2) long life 3) ease of construction 4) resistance to bad weather. Below is a covered pen that incorporates many of these desirable characteristics.

Basic Layout

The size of this pen is 144' x 96'. These pens can be grouped, but for this page, I will describe one pen. The size conforms to two rolls of toprite. On our farm a pen this size would hold 700 hens with peepers or 500 cocks with peepers, or 600 hens and cocks with peepers.


These posts should be set equidistant from each other around the perimeter of the pen. It works out that the posts should be 12 feet apart. The posts should be 10' long. They should go into the ground 3' and extend 7'.


The four sides of the pen should be covered with galvanized-after-weaving wire - 1" mesh - either 18 or 20 gauge. This wire should be buried at least 6" and flared to the outside underground. This prevents animals from digging down under the pen. The wire should extend up to the sides of the pen to the tops of the posts.

1/8" Galv. cable

A 1/8" Galvanized aircraft cable should be strung around the top of the poles around the perimeter of the pen. Another strand of 1/8" cable should be strung the length of the pen equidistant from the two sides. Two #9 wires should be strung widthwise splitting the pen in thirds. These 1/8" cables will support the roof. The poles to which the 1/8" cables is attached should have "dead-man" poles for support. This will prevent the poles from pulling in.



Over the top of this grid put two connected rolls of 150' x 50' toprite netting. The netting should be connected to the four corners first to make sure it is square. It should be pulled over the edges and attached to both the 1/8" cable and to the wire sides. DO NOT attach the netting to the 1/8" cable running through the pen. You should hog-ring the 1/8" cable to the toprite in the inside of the pen about every 5' to prevent ripping in the wind. At the junction of the 1/8" cable in the middle of the pen, put brace posts made of 2" x 4" material. They should be tall enough (10 to 12 ft.) to make the pen tent-like in appearance. On the top of the 2" x 4" add a screw-in eyehook, run the 1/8" cablethrough, then close the eyehook. This pen is designed to be lowered in case of wet snow or icy conditions. In case of foul weather, simply take down the 2" x 4" poles and let the toprite down. Even with the birds inside, they will move to the edges of the pen. This pen is economical as you have fewer posts and 1/8" cable then most pen designs. I purposely avoided the subject of gates, feeding, watering or catching birds, as each farm has is own situations.

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