Feed or starve my paranoia: weasels and 1/2" hardware cloth

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Wink, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. Wink

    Wink Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 24, 2010
    I'm feeling momentary defeat as I visit the Predators and pests section. I've researched for months and came up with my coop plans, and scrounged around for my coop materials, primed my plywood, marked out and cleared area for coop location, scored a rocking deal on hardware cloth, and ordered my chicks (chicks due on 2/9/11!)

    Breaking ground on coop building to commence in a week. And every time I feel somewhat confident about my plans (elevated coop, all hardware cloth, metal roof for both coop and run, apron of HC out two feet, using 2x4 fencing inside run for floor, but that will be under the sand) I keep reading the attack stories.

    Our coop is backed up into the woods. I know we've got the predators, but is my operation bordering on futile? I was reading about weasels....if you "can get your thumb through an opening, so can a weasel". So a weasel can squeezle (like my made up word?) through my 1/2" HC cloth? I just can't wrap my head around that, because we live in a hot area, the windows in the summertime will be left open and YES, the opening will be covered in HC but what does it matter if a weasel can climb through a HC opening covering my window?

    I'm guessing if that were really the case, a lot more people would've given up keeping chickens?! Sigh. It's late. Maybe my reading about predators and pests is akin to watching a scary movie before bedtime.
  2. lleighmay

    lleighmay Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 21, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    Don't fret. It sounds like you are taking every possible precaution (unless of course you keep them in your house and only let them out on leashes). I'm pretty sure not even a weasel can squeezle (love the word) through 1/2 inch hardware cloth as long as it's secured around the edges. Sure some sort of disaster could still happen, but the earth may also be hit by a giant asteroid....... Seems to me like you've given a lot of thought and planning to your new chickens, so just sit back and enjoy them!! Meanwhile (since your planning is all done) stay out of predators and pests so you don't have any more nightmares [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  3. Wink

    Wink Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 24, 2010
    Thanks, I appreciate it. No more P and P section for me, right now! It's like forcing me to watch every Saw movie or Hostel or whatever else creepy flick there is.

    Now on to asteroid proof my coop..... ;-)
  4. Chicken.Lytle

    Chicken.Lytle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 19, 2010
    Montgomery County, TX
    Here are some more ideas for you.

    Make sure the hardware cloth is screwed down with wood frame so there are no places to just push through the edge.

    Get a game camera or security camera that can detect small animals and not just deer.

    Add an electric fence.

    Make sure you have wire overhead. I had a raccoon try to get through the gap between the top plate and the roof.

    Buy a live trap and a .22 pellet rifle that is 800-1000 fps (powerful but not supersonic).

    OK, I am out of ideas.
  5. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Sounds like you are doing great with your predator proofing. Remember that only the horror stories get posted in P & P. If you read it, it seems like everyone gets wiped out daily- so not true. And that every other animal in creation is plotting to get your chickens.
    I have not had an attack in about 7 years, am very lax about it. No pop door, chainlink run, no hardware cloth, free range all day unsupervised, sometimes way before or after dark. My chickens coexist with raccoons, possums, hawks, eagles, cats and rats. And there is always the possibility that a dog will jump the fence.
    I am not suggesting that you do the same. It is important that you know your area and plan accordingly. You may need to keep yours in a run 24/7.
    I fully expect that I will get hit at some point, but who knows maybe tonight, maybe in another 7 years.

    Good luck, and enjoy your chickens,

    Imp- BTW- It's 10pm right now and the run door is still open. Been dark for a few hours now. Guess I'd better head out and lock up.
  6. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Well. I am a super worry wart too but you could have coop sit on a concrete pad that extends out past the frame by a few inches or so, to definetly keep out diggers. And there is always 1/4" hardware cloth, a good solid roof over their run would be most excellent especially to provide some shade and rain relief., keep out raccoons and hawks. Also large dogs that love your chickens and hate predators is a big plus., if they bunk together.

    If you want to go way out, you can surround coop and run with unrolled chicken wire to help keep snakes out(they get caught in the openings). I'm sure there are even more things to dream up but my brain is hurting already.
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    I guess I have bigger thumbs than you, because I can't get mine through 1/2" hardware cloth. [​IMG]

    I think you should be fine with that size. 1" is a big enough hole to start causing problems. That can let through rats, the young of the smallest weasel species and even raccoons can reach through. 1/2" should be good. It's worked for me for a lot of years.

    The only thing that should be able to get through that is mice. To keep out mice, you need 1/4" hardware cloth. I don't use it because it needs a finer gauge wire, to be able to weave it. I don't have a mouse problem, either.
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:What kind of thumbs do you have that you are poking them through 1/2" hardwarecloth? (YOu're sure it is 1/2" hardware cloth, not 1x1 welded wire, yes? Get a ruler and measure).

    As long as it really is 1/2" hardwarecloth, and installed without gaps, you are essentially weaselproof. I would not bet my house and property on it being impossible for a juvenile least weasel to squeezle (<g>) in if it really wanted to, but I do not think that is a very likely circumstance and it still would probably fail if it tried. Any adult weasels (even least weasels, and certainly of the other two species) are NOT going through a 1/2" hole.

    So just take a deep breath -- build your coop tightly and soundly, of course, but you'll be fine [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

  9. moonlyghtegirl

    moonlyghtegirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2009
    We use 1/4" hardware cloth, and have an electrified run. The electrical line starts at 2" off the ground and then is graduated 2, 4, 6 inches above that to the top of the run. The top is a alternating sheets of pvc roofing and tin, to keep out rain and predators, and it provides light and shade. We are in the south, so we have an open run.
  10. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    You also have to measure the space between the wires both vertically and horizontally. A lot more critters can grab or squeeze through 1/2" by 3" hardware cloth than can squeeze through 1/2" by 1/2" hardware cloth. I've even read on the dove board about doves being grabbed through 1/2" by 1" wire!

    Mice and snakes can get through 1/2" by 1/2" hardware cloth, but they're going to be small enough to have to worry about getting eaten by the chickens themselves. I agree with the other poster about paying attention to securing your wire carefully to the wood framework. That's going to be your most vulnerable point.

    I make it a habit to do a weekly security check of my coop and run to watch for any loose connections, rotting wood, evidence that something has tried to dig in the run, etc.

    I used to keep my flock in an all wire coop/run. I will say I've been sleeping easier since I had my latest (and last!) coop built. It's a stout, solid sided conventional coop with 16 gauge hardware cloth covering the vents and windows and a metal door that locks. If a raccoon wants in there, it's going to need to bring along a reciprocating saw!

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