Daytime vs. nighttime predator proofing for run, i.e. using chicken wire for top


In the Brooder
7 Years
Mar 19, 2012
I have a chicken tractor with small "run" space underneath that my chicks are growing out of. We're constructing an 8'x16' run that will attach to the tractor. It was originally only going to be 2 or 3 feet high but I really want to be able to go in, so we've decided to make it 6ft tall on the tall edge, slanting down to 4 ft on the shorter edge. Reason for the 4ft short side is that the hardware cloth we're ordering is only 4ft tall. It's pricey, and we'll need the full roll just to go all the way around.

For the extra two feet at the top of the 6 ft high side (and the triangular parts on ends where the roof is sloping), I was considering something cheaper, like chicken wire. It would be a daytime run only, and covered with some kind of wire (chicken wire or maybe hardware cloth) and with tin over at least part of the top, so it will be enclosed as protection from things like hawks and cats, which we have a lot of.

I have just heard not to use chicken wire but I wasn't sure if that was on ANY part of a chicken coop/run. My thinking is that things that can rip through chicken wire aren't usually out in daytime (like raccoons) or can't climb all that well (like dogs). Am I overlooking anything important? Does anybody else use a less stout wire on the top parts of their run?


In the Brooder
9 Years
May 6, 2010
I'm wondering the same thing. I'm considering using chicken wire for the upper part of my run.


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
Raccoons, foxes, coyotes, things like that can be out in the middle of the day. That does not mean they are sick or anything like that, just that they are out in the middle of the day. Dogs can be out at any time. Nighttime is more risky because many of them are more active at night and they have longer to work on getting in the coop without interruptions. Don't count on daytime being perfect protection.

With all that said, though, your risk is much greater at night for most things. Not dogs, but most things. Many of us keep them in predator resistant runs during the day and predator proof coops at night. How predator resistant your coop or run is depends on a whole lot of things, from what materials you use to your construction techniques.

What I'd suggest instead of chicken wire is the 2" x 4" welded wire. Wire comes in different gauges. The heavier the gauge (the smaller the gauge number) the safer it is. The 2" x 4" welded wire will be a lot stronger than chicken wire (depending on gauge). It should be less expensive than hardware cloth, but that depends on the size of roll you can get and how much you need.

Some things can get through the openings, such as snakes and weasels. Weasels are not likely to be out during the day and it would take a really big snake to harm a grown full-sized chicken. They will eat eggs however, even during the day. With the hardware cloth around the bottom 4 feet, nothing should be able to reach in through the openings it eat your chickens by parts, like a raccoon will.

I built my permanent run out of the 2" x 4" welded wire, then installed chicken wire on the inside at the bottom 18". This makes it a lot harder for anything to reach through, it stops the chickens from sticking their heads through the openings to eat grass and weeds so they are not exposed, but for me the main purpose was to keep baby chicks from leaving their mother's protection when I have a broody. Another possible benefit. If you feed them treats, you can maybe just stick them through the 2" x 4" openings instead of having to open the run.

There area lot of different ways to do things. We all have different circumstances and different risk tolerances. What you are describing with the hardware cloth at the bottom and chicken wire at the top will probably work. The risk of something even trying to break in up at the chicken wire during daytime is probably really small. Just because something can happen does not mean it absolutely will. You have to balance your risks, risk tolerance, and pocket book for the solution that is for you.

Good luck!

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