Burying Wire for Predator Protection - Need Help Understanding

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by tlatham72, May 18, 2019.

  1. tlatham72

    tlatham72 Chirping

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    I am spatially challenged and have never had chickens before, so I'm having trouble understanding the specifics of how to the buried wire prevents digging predator access. I've read in a gazillion places that one should bury the wire 18-24 inches deep around the perimeter of the coop/run, but I haven't read an explanation of how this stops the access. I am moving to the country and am terrified of losing my first flock to inexperience and predators. So, I really want to get this right up-front.

    I am going to build my coop by re-purposing a 6x8 shed with ~8 ft tall walls and then a few more feet of open space due to the gable roof. I will be sitting the shed (plywood floor) on a concrete foundation. I read this tip from someone on the forum who had a predator burrow under her coop and chew through the bottom of her plywood floor to get inside the coop. She lost her entire flock. (My coop will not be elevated off of the ground as my base shed as a small front porch and human-sized door.)

    Even with the concrete foundation, I think it would be wise to prevent any attempts at burrowing under the coop at all. So...do I dig a narrow trench around the perimeter of my concrete foundation 24 inches deep and insert the wire mesh vertically into it? Then would I wrap the wire mesh up the side of and over onto the top of the concrete foundation before sitting the shed on top to secure it? Or, should I just affix it to the outside of the coop wall where it comes up out of the ground? Or, should I stop it at the surface of the soil? Is this why I would add a perimeter of rocks/blocks/pavers around the coop? To cover the soil where the wire comes up and stops? I keep reading this design tip, but I haven't been able to figure out what the additional benefit/protection is that the rocks provide.

    Once the wire is buried (and the pavers stacked on top if needed), how does the wire keep the predators from digging under? I've never seen any rules of thumb in regards to how predators go about their digging. For example, I can imagine a scenario where a critter starts 3-6 inches out from the foundation edge (where the wire is buried vertically) and digs down more than 24 inches and then forward and manages to get under the wire mesh and eventually under the coop. Am I misunderstanding how to install the wire? Or am I overestimating what the predators are capable of doing digging-wise? For example, can they not dig down more than 24 inches?

    Would the coop be ultra secure if the vertical wire was buried 24 inches deep around the foundation perimeter of the coop and an additional 24+ inches of wire was buried horizontally out from the foundation perimeter just under the surface of the soil? Or is that redundant? I guess if the pavers/blocks/rocks were 24+ inches wide, placing them around the foundation perimeter would accomplish the same thing. Is that the reason people suggest adding the rock perimeter? To push a digging predator out as far as possible from the coop edge? Is there a rule of thumb for a distance at which predators "decide" that they are too far out to dig a tunnel under the coop?

    Now that the coop is secured from predators digging under, I guess I would use the same solution around the perimeter of the run. Right? (My run will be like a screened porch off the right shed wall -- wire walls on a wood frame the same height as and with a shingled gable roof like the shed. The run will extend 10-15 ft out from the shed.) Of importance I think, my run WON'T have the concrete pad like the coop, so any predator that gets under the perimeter by digging gets into the run and, if the pop door is open, into the coop. Are there additional barriers that I can use around the run to make certain no critters can get inside by digging?

    My run will also have a human-sized screened-porch door. What do I do with the vertically buried wire along the length of the door frame? It can't extend up past the soil surface because I would not be able to open the door, and I won't be able to have pavers or blocks stacked on top of the vertical wire for the same reason. I guess I could put the 24+ inches of horizontally laid wire out from the door. Would that work coupled with the 24 inches of vertically buried wire?

    And lastly, how do I secure the seam where the bottom of the door meets the door frame? Does anyone just go ahead and stack the blocks in front of the door (on top of the vertically buried wire) and deal with having to move the blocks whenever you want to open the door to go into the run? It seems like a huge pain, but I'd rather have live chickens if that is what is necessary.

    My chickens will be in the coop at night and in the run unsupervised during the day. I plan to use an automated pop door to let them into the run in the morning and secure them in the coop at night. Will digging predators try to tunnel into the run during the day when chickens are in it? Or do they only dig under the cover of night?

    As you can see, I'm thinking through every tiny detail tonight about the aspects of my coop design for preventing predator access by digging. I'll move onto other needed predator proofing once I've got this part under control.

    PS...one final thought...can any of the above be greatly simplified by simply laying an electrified wire mesh net 24+ inches wide on the ground around the perimeter of the coop? Or would it not work if it has contact with the ground? As in, short-out? OK. Now my brain is fried, too.

    Thanks in advance for any education you can provide to this newbie!
     
  2. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

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    A concrete pad should go a long way in deterring pests from burrowing into the floor of the coop.

    There's two main ways to handle wire around a coop/run for pest/predator protection - to bury it like you've described, either straight down or at an angle, or to apron it, where you lay it flat on the ground and stake it down in place. I use an apron as I have a lot of tree roots under the run, so digging down would not work. The idea behind it in both cases is that a pest/predator would start digging at the base of a coop or run fence, hit the wire, and be deterred because even if they go down further or back a few inches or a foot, there'd still be wire there. Obviously this isn't perfect and there have been reported cases of breeches, but it does work pretty well overall - I've had rats try to tunnel under and give up part way through.

    For optimal protection in either case, you should attach the wire partially up the run or coop wall with either screws with fender washers or sandwich extra wood over the wire and staple/screw through it.

    For doors it depends on what kind of door you have. You might need to get creative. In my case my run is chain link, so I had to build up some wire around the door opening, then overlap extra wire onto the door itself, so when the door closes, the layers of wire overlap. A little hard to see the overlap here, but basically with the door shut, the wire more or less covers the gap. (The white vertical wire on top is to keep chickens from running out when the gate is open and not part of my predator proofing.)

    gate.jpg

    For the pop door, I do use an auto door as that works better for my schedule.

    As far as electric, I don't think you can have it in contact with the ground. I don't have electric so not completely sure on that.
     
  3. You are both right, you cannot have your hot electric wire in contact with the ground. You still need grounding wires but thats different. @Howard E has a great article explaining to uses of electric fencers.

    Eta: i have a screen door also. The important thing is that the corners are reinforced at bottom and top to deter prying. If you have any slits at the along the bottom, you can put a length of door draft guard along it so nothing can slip under.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  4. tlatham72

    tlatham72 Chirping

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    Thank you! That all makes great sense! I totally love the idea of how to add extra wire that overlaps when the door is shut. Perfect!
     
  5. tlatham72

    tlatham72 Chirping

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    Thank you! Ahhhh the corners. I would have never thought about the prying. Door guard. Another great idea!
     
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  6. tlatham72

    tlatham72 Chirping

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  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Here's a visual for an apron:
    upload_2019-5-18_17-50-3.png

    ..and some more:
    Good examples of anti-dig apron installation:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/wire-around-coop.1110498/#post-17093528
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/new-coop-project.1169916/page-2#post-18481208

    Burying straight down ~18" might be better if you live where there are rats.

    Pavers for extended door thresholds, inside too because chickens will try to 'dig out'.
    I had to add a row of bricks then some vertical pavers to keep the chooks from digging under out 'patio'.
    upload_2019-5-18_17-52-39.png
     
  8. tlatham72

    tlatham72 Chirping

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    Terrific pics and links! Thanks! Especially the pavers at the entrance and exit of the coop door. Hadn't thought of that at all. And definitely didn't anticipate the chickens trying to dig out. LOL I think I've decided to bury the hardware cloth vertically and add it horizontally as an apron around the coop and run (unless I managed to score a large haul of pavers or bricks or something from the someone).
     
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  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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