Do I have to use Hardware Cloth on the run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ghostsnare101, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. ghostsnare101

    ghostsnare101 Chirping

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    Hi all, So I've been doing a lot of reasearch about what kind of wire to use on my run and coop and I have come to the conclusion that almost everyone uses hardware cloth which is what I was going to originally use. Well after doing some price checking online as well as in store today, it doesn't look like it's financially feasible to do my entire run in hardware cloth. So what I thought about doing was going around the three sides of my coop with hardware cloth 2 feet underground and the 2 feet above ground so my chickens can run underneath the coop (run is attached). Then have something like deer fencing or something that's cheaper for the run itself. The run is going to be 20' x10', then 6' tall. So my question is will a different kind of fencing be ok for the run since they will be in the coop at night away from predators or is that still a bad idea?
     
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  2. BReeder!

    BReeder! Crowing

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    still new with raising chickens, and actually working on my first run right now. That said, I too have had to put quite a bit of thought into it. Think about the predators you have locally. Seeing that you are in Michigan, they may be similar to those I have in Illinois. I get hawks, eagles and other predatory birds, stray cats, skunks, and possums. I don't get raccoons thankfully - clever tricksters! Frankly, the possums are the hardest predatory to protect my hens from in my opinion, especially younger (teenager equivalents) possums that are they size of rats (I've seen them larger than cats as adults in my area). Depending on the type of fencing you use, smaller predators like possums and rats may be able to slip through. I'm avoiding non-metal materials for the run surround as well - I am however currently comfortable with using bird netting over the run in my area - yes possums climb and are curious, but they are nocturnal and I'm relying on the birds being protecting in the coop at night. Also, my dog gladly killed a possum last year and would have gotten another had I not trapped it.

    The point is, use what will work to deter and keep out the predators that are in your area.
     
  3. ghostsnare101

    ghostsnare101 Chirping

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    I mean I know we have minks, possums, hawks, and owls, I haven't really seen too many coons out here but it's a possibility. But most of those are nocturnal. So shouldn't I just focus the run on things like hawks and predators that would get them while they are in the run? The coop should keep out rats and mink(since it's raised off the ground) and coons and possums. I just can't think of any predator during the day that would justify hardware cloth completely enclosing the run but maybe I'm wrong.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    It's generally accepted that 1/2" hdw cloth with full skirt is the gold standard for safe fencing. However, I do not believe that hdw cloth is truly predator proof. I've had a determined raccoon shred hdw cloth that was used to extend a live trap. No doubt a bear could also shred it.

    The size of your wallet, and your risk tolerance, as well as the size of your flock will go a long way to making the decision of what kind of fencing you will use on your run.

    I have a large flock. I started with 5 birds free ranging. I then graduated to Electro-poultry netting when my flock grew to 15ish birds. Hawks discovered the chicken buffet. I lost 3 birds in 3 weeks. So, I retired the electronet run and built a 500 s.f. covered run. No way could I afford hdw cloth for that. I built a run that was 6' high, with a buried skirt. I used galvanized 1" chicken wire, and covered the run with bird netting. This run is not as secure as I would like it to be. There are places where a determined hawk or 4 footed climber could squeeze in. For that matter, a weasel could breach it, rats and squirrels have breached it, and I know that a determined coon, dog, fox, coyote, fisher, the list goes on... could shred the chicken wire. But, it is what I could afford, it keeps the flock reasonably safe during the day, and they are buttoned up tight in their coop every night.

    There is the option of running a couple strands of electric wire around the coop and run. But, the maintenance of that is a bit daunting. So, for now, this is what I have.
     
  5. BReeder!

    BReeder! Crowing

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    I hear you. Be aware that a lot of animals that are considered nocturnal like to hunt during twilight (sunset). Odds are the hens will still be out in the run or the coop door will not yet be closed before some "nocturnal" predators are on the prowl. I don't have minks that I know of around here, but I have read quite a few stories on BYC recently of minks getting hens. Perhaps add a motion sensor light or two (solar powered is fine because you just need enough to get you through twilight until the hens are locked away in the coop) - I see them cheap all the time at Menards and Home Depot. A light popping on would scare most small animals away I think, and is definitely cheaper than covering the whole run. Additionally, do you have a rooster? I'm not allowed to here by local ordinance, but my in-laws are in TN and we just visited them for a week. Their rooster will certainly go after a predator. Their 17 hens and one rooster free range all day in the open wooded property my in-laws have and are just locked in the coop at night. Their run is made of deer fencing, so even if they are left in the run when the go into town to shop minks, possums, rats, snakes, etc don't mess with the hens because the rooster will go after them. Be careful though - their rooster came after me as well as my father in-law. Everybody carries a stick when go out by the coop and run or near the chickens in case you need to fend off the rooster. Funny thing is I worried more about that tough SOB than I did any of the surrounding wild life. :p
     
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  6. ghostsnare101

    ghostsnare101 Chirping

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    My chicks are only 4 weeks old so I'm not sure how many roosters I have, I'm pretty sure I have two. I won't know for sure until they crow though. I at least wanted one rooster so he would break up the squabbles between the hens and we could breed more chicks. Didn't realize that a rooster would take out predators though. We live out in the middle of nowhere with corn fields all round us so the only ones being woke up by crowing in the morning lol. The pop on lights are a great idea, I'll have to look into them. I'll probably be making a trip to the home depot tomorrow so I can put the floor in the ground tomorrow and start the framing.
     
  7. NancyNurseCxMama

    NancyNurseCxMama Songster

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    I have a 20 X 10 run for six birds that is totally encased in HWC. The coop is completely inside the run. We buried HWC a foot down and more than a foot out from the perimeter.
    We deal with foxes, coyotes, hawks, mink, voles, mice, raccoons, feral cats, and the neighbor's bird dogs who are lovely dogs but whose predator urges have had them taking out free-range chickens whenever they can manage to escape their fencing. One was headed up our drive the other day. The sweet boy jumped into our truck and we brought him back to his home, no harm done.
    We don't free range. Part of our property is protected wetlands and we love the wildlife that surrounds us but are acutely aware of the hazards that our chickens face because of them.
    Our girls are happy and healthy and present us with 4-6 gorgeous eggs per day. I am not willing to sacrifice any of them for "freedom." They presently reside in the closest approximation of Fort Knox that we can imagine.
    So far, so good. :)
     
  8. Soon2BChixMom

    Soon2BChixMom Herding ducks and Wrangling chickens

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    @ghostsnare101 I just noticed that you are from Sturgis, MI. I am just south of you! Howdy neighbor! :frow
     
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  9. Soon2BChixMom

    Soon2BChixMom Herding ducks and Wrangling chickens

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    Oh, forgot to mention, did you check Amazon? I am not sure how big your run is, but they have the best prices - not by a lot, but enough to make it worth the while to order.
     
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  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    I have never known a roo to defend the flock. My neighbor has lost a fair number of birds to fox, weasel, hawk. All losses occurred with roo in attendance. My losses to hawks occurred with a roo in attendance.

    My roo sounds the alarm. But he would be helpless against most predators. Yes, some roos will go down fighting. And they may be the first to be killed. But, you CAN'T depend on a roo to provide predator protection.

    @BReeder! you are correct in that many predators are on the prowl at twilight and early sunrise. For that matter, I've killed a number of coons that have been out wandering at mid day. And, I've also seen weasels out and about during day light hours. Same with fox. My neighbor down the street had a fox that was hunting mice in her back yard during the day.
     
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