Advice for attaching run cover


10 Years
Apr 9, 2009
western NC
I am building a u-shaped run- one leg is 16' wide by 20 feet long,, the middle section and other leg are 12" wide and about the same length. . I want to cover the run with bird netting at least, but I worry about sagging. If I use lumber across the tops, what thickness will I need, and how far apart should I put it, in order to give the netting more support? And is there any lumber 16' long that wouldn't sag in the in the middle and break with weight on it anyway?
Does this question make sense?
It's in a U shape around a tree that has our pet cemetary. I didn't feel good about putting the chickens over our little graves. I do plan to use electric fencing, but I worry about coons and possums climbing the tree and leaping in.
I'd consider putting a couple of posts in the middle, running a cable or heavy wire down the middle, and run a couple of cables or wire across.

Not sure if you meant 12 inches or 12 feet for the middle section and other leg.
Shoot- I need to cut my finger nails to type! I meant 12 feet. . . .
I never thought of cable or wire. . . . do you think there is any other thing I can do without putting in more posts? Would a heavy wire hold up without too much sagging over a 12 foot span at least? Sort of like a clothesline?
My runs are 16'x16 and 16'x20'. Both are covered with bird netting (deer netting?). It's the black plastic stuff with 1/2" squares. I put mine up with zip ties. The netting is stretched from side to side and then zip tied ever foot or so to the wall wire. I've managed to stretch mine tight enough to not need center support. The netting is zipped all around the sides and then where the netting overlaps I also zip tie it together. Of course, the plastic netting is not going to keep out racoons or feral cats, but it should stop flying predators. At least it will slow them down. The zip ties come in a variety of sizes and are found in the electrical section of Home Depot and Lowes. They aren't very expensive at all. Actually zip ties are handy for all sorts of things. I have gobs of them around the house.
One thing people do sometimes is put in one or more (in your case, several) posts that are a bit taller than the run fencing, and top them with something like half an old tire. They function as sort of circus-tent poles to hold the netting up in the middle -- the curved rubber surface of the old tire keeps the top of the post from ripping a hole thru the netting. Cables can be added to this as necessary to take out sag between central post(s) and the perimeter fence.

If you wanted to use lumber, then you will need to add central supporting posts too... you are right, 16' is too long a span not to come down in bad weather.

Unless you will tkae the netting down in late fall, though, you will need to think quite seriously about snowload. Wet snow or ice are HEAVY, and yes, they *will* accumulate on netting (or wire mesh) to a considerable degree, and not infrequently brings the whole assembly crashing to the ground. The idea situation would be to find someone near you who has a similar setup that's been standing for 5-10 yrs and duplicate it. Failing that, you will have to decide whether to err towards the side of overbuilding, in hopes it will not come down; or to err on the side of underbuilding and assume that the resulting damage when it *does* come down will not be overly distressing or expensive. Personal choice. But, do not underestimate the weight of snow or ice piling up on netting or mesh!

Good luck, have fun,

My run is 25x50 long and covered with bird netting. We put 4x4's down the middle of the run every 8-10 ft. and used pvc pipe from one to another on top of the 4x4's to make a support to hold the netting up in the middle. Painted the pvc black to match the netting. Then draped the netting over the middle piping and to each side where the fence is surrounding the run. Worked out great and the heavy duty netting was only around $44 or so shipped. I probably didn't explain it very well. We used small electrical ties to secure the netting to the fencing all around. When we got to the coop, there was enough to drape it over on top of the roof. We made a support to go over the top of the gate on the fencing and secured it to that.

Thank you, thank you- I am getting an idea of what I can do/should do. . . . we do get two or three good heavy snows a year here, so that is something I need to consider, also.
If anyone else has more advice, I am still listening!!!
Aircraft cable is incredibly strong for its size and isn't all that expensive. After a show-and-tell session at the hardware store, you could very easily string it between eye bolts on the posts on either side. Easy peasy!

I live in middle TN, so snowfall isn't a huge issue here. We did get one major snowfall (8"+) last year. I don't remember the snow accumulating on the plastic netting. Ice would be a whole other issue. We didn't get an ice storm last year, but I can see how that would easily tear the whole thing down. On the plus side, it's not all that expensive and is really easy to put back up. The downside would be if it got heavy enough to smush one of your chickens.
Hmmmm... aircraft cable support overhead make sense. I have always wanted to put something sturdier on top of my run. Again, I think it would deter a hawk, but anything that can climb would likely shove right through it. I have never worried overly much, because my girls are locked up tight in the coops at night when the climbing predators are the worst. If you did aircraft cable supports though you could run chicken wire or hardware cloth overhead. That would be a much more secure option for sure.

Good luck!
I use metal pipe fpr cross support. The same pipe used for chain link fence. Not overly expensive and will last a lifetime. I also used chicken wire for the top. It does come in 6 ft widths, although the store may have to order if they don't carry it.

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