We were very fortunate to inherit a small mixed orchard on our property. .... plan on fencing it and using it as a chicken run. We think that will mean "boxing it in". ....
Same situation except we started ours from scratch (twice) in the last four years.
.... - 60 trees - .... plan is to fence with 1.8 m dog fence with light chicken wire over this to keep the birds out and cover the top with bird netting. It will be a big job .... weighting the branches ... generate some income to justify the time and cost -considering 'pick your own'
Sue55 can we have work-in-progress photos as this eventuates, it sounds very like the idea we are working on.
We planted around 400 olive trees and around 400 fruit and nut trees. Lost the lot: to firstly rabbit mini-plague, then the drought bit hard. Now we have fenced/rabbit-proofed just a half-acre and put in 100 fruit trees fairly close-planted. Have seen the weighted-down result on local ten-year-old apple trees, quite stunning and successful. Our littlies fruited this year and birds took the lot, so by next Spring hope to have some of it "boxed in" and the tie-downs commenced.
If not fully boxed, it is semi-useless for poultry. I have ducks in the orchard, magpies/crows take all the eggs, and can't run ducklings there because of the hawks and eagles and crows and magpies. Will be lovely in the future to raise chickens and duckling in a safe free range situation without them wrecking the attempt at a garden (and inviting themselves into the house if a door is left open). But yes it's a big expense from a small income, and to get a little something back on the investment would be a bonus.
Edit to add: that's a good set-up. you have very civilised horses, Arnold thinks anything bird-netty is a pony play-pen, and he is banned from the orchard and the adjoining field.