I suppose they miss the daily supplements of greens I chuck them when I'm there, because when I'm at home they stay put. Whatever the reason, the lure of our lush vegetable garden becomes too much for them in my absence, and they squeeze out of their pen through gaps they wouldn't consider breaching when I'm at home.
I know several people who have given up on chickens because they were sick of having their silverbeet reduced to stalks and their doormat become a poo platter. What every urban chicken-keeper needs, of course, is to embrace their chickens within a Good Fence.
Home-made solutionsI'm open to suggestions, because obviously I haven't got it completely sorted. Here is what I use. The posts are a combination of bamboo, long slim pruned branches and extra-tall electric fence pigtail posts. I tie garden mesh to them. It works quite well to start with, but sags with time.
Here is my neighbour's set up, but she too has escapee problems (it's not a very high fence):
Commercial optionsI've spotted some commercial offerings that tempt me greatly. One is the Omlet chicken fencing from chooks.co.nz, which at 1.25 m is a better height than the standard garden mesh at 900 mm - 1 m high.
|Omlet chicken fencing|
Move itTo me it's important that fencing can be easily moved. This is so your birds can regularly have fresh ground and don't have to forage too much in their own poo. It may seem like they don't have to forage if they have pellets constantly available in a feeder - but they do, they're chickens and it is quite simply what they do.
(One way to avoid having to move the pen is to constantly put large amount of straw, weeds, leaves etc into it, so it's a minimum of about 15 cm deep. This is sometimes called the straw yard or deep litter method. It creates an on-site compost that keeps the muck less yucky.)