Fencing question for runs


In the Brooder
8 Years
Dec 12, 2011
Undoubtedly it seems hardware cloth is the safest material. However, is no-climb horse fencing with 2"x4" rectangles safe for a run if it's placed higher than 3'? (For example, wood or hardware cloth for the first three feet then the rectangle wire fencing above it.) I attempted to draw a picture: http://i41.tinypic.com/j9lj0w.png
, for the "roof" of the run, is any sort of wire acceptable - chicken wire, 2"x4" square, etc.?

In my area the main threats to chickens are cats, dogs, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, foxes, skunks, hawks, and eagles. I'm not sure if snakes pose a threat to adult chickens though I've seen my free-ranging girls having a feast on a black rat snake they killed. The barn cats pretty keep the rodent population down.

(edit: typo)
Last edited:
I use 2x4 welded wire for my pen. i don't have any trouble with varmints. But it has happened before that a coon reached through and grabbed a rooster and pulled him through. it was a bantam rooster. Coons are nocturnal animals and so you really only have to worry at night. During the day, your chickens are going to be alert and not going to be right up against the fence when a predator is coming up to the fence.. or so i would think. So long as you have a place where they consistently roost each night and the coons can't actually get INTO your pen, you should be fine. You could probably get by with using the hardware cloth up to 2 feet or so.. that way, the coon wouldn't be able to reach the chicken that's on the ground because it would be too low.
True enough, but remember that coons have hands and can climb. So, while they may not be able to reach one of your birds from 3 feet up the side, if the top isn't strong enough, they may be able to find a way in at night. I would go with stiff wire for the top, too. Not the "so-called" chicken wire. Hardware cloth or the no-climb.
When we got around to our first run, we decided on a dog run; easy to put up, flexible size (Lowe's sells one that can be set up as either a 10 x 10 or a 5 x 15). We attached 36" hardware cloth around the bottom. Probably the hardest part was wrestling with that chain link fencing.

The top rails of these allow us to put roofs on fairly easily using brace rail clamps, PVC/electrical pipe, hardware cloth and zip ties.

Although we live in the city limits, we are near a small lake and have possums, racoons, owls, hawks, snakes and even a fox in the neighborhood.

Pictures show our first run (with the "hoop" top) and our last run with a "flat" top.




Runs are hard to truly totally predator-proof unless they are pretty small. And it can get really expensive. So there are tradeoffs. My philosophy was to give them a pretty large run that is predator-resistant and lock them in a predator-proof coop each night.

Unless they are really large snakes or you have a really small chicken breed, snakes are not normally a threat to full grown chickens. They will eat baby chicks and eggs though.

I made my run out of the 2"x4" welded wire, then put that miserable, despised chicken wire around the bottom 18" or so, in the inside of the welded wire. I also bent that chicken wire and formed an apron on the inside of the run maybe 6" wide. I also have an apron around the outside of the run made out of the 2x4 wire to keep things from digging in. My purpose was to make it more difficult for a raccoon to reach in and grab a chicken. But that was only a small reason. My real purpose was to stop the chickens from reaching through the welded wire to peck at the grass. If a predator just stays calm for a little while, chickens will get complacent and ignore them. I also wanted to keep baby chicks from going through the fence and away from Mama's protection. That's the main reason for the small apron of chicken wire. To keep baby chicks in.

I don't care if they call it no-climb or not. Raccoons, foxes, and possums can climb. You might be surprised at how high coyotes and some dogs can jump. The 2x4 fencing will stop most predators from going through, but snakes, rats, and weasels can make it. But those are really hard to stop anyway.

For the top, make sure it is high enough that you can walk under it. Give yourself some extra room. When I walk, I bounce up and down a bit. Give yourself some extra room.

What kind of top you put on it depends on what you want it to do. If all you want to do is keep chickens in, chicken wire works. It will also deter some things, but some things like raccoons can dismantle it. I would not use any kind of plastic netting. It works fine for a while, but it will break down way too fast. If you want to keep predators out, the 2x4 wire should work well. If your run is 2x4 wire, you have no need to go with anything stronger up top.
You guys are missing something, all this 'wire' is very thin, welds make it weak and it just won't hold up over the years.
Chain link fencing is the same price or cheaper, a million times stronger, stiffer and safer.
I would make a regular fence of chain link, with the metal poles and all. Then use more chain link for the top. Use the hardware cloth on the outside along the bottom, fold down a foot of it on the ground to keep critters from digging in.
But what would be better to use for the protection footer is 1x1/2in 14 gauge cage wire. Hardware cloth is easy to tear and it's so thin it will rust out asap.

You also did not tell us if you get snow or not in your area. If you do, you need solid fence posts and attach the top securely. You also need strong fencing, snow is heavy and will pop the 'welds' apart.
Last edited:
My run (including roof) is made of 2x4 welded wire, with hardware cloth added along the lower 24 inches. I would think any kind of wire (including chicken wire) would work as a ceiling/roof as long as your birds were shut inside a secure housing each night. However, if you're planning on leaving a pop door open at night, then I would definitely go with a stronger wire than chicken wire. Many folks don't even have a ceiling/roof on their runs; they simply shut the chickens inside the housing at night for safety. Of course if you have hawk issues, a run roof is sure helpful.
I think your design is a good. The raccoons wont be able to reach the chickens with the hardware cloth on the bottom. But California_Redneck
is right, a coon could climb onto the top and rip right through chicken wire and get inside. I’d go with the 2” by 4” wire roof and make sure it is fastened down as strongly as the sides are.
You guys are missing something, all this 'wire' is very thin, welds make it weak and it just won't hold up over the years.
Chain link fencing is the same price or cheaper, a million times stronger, stiffer and safer

Actually, it's not any stronger or safer, and is FAR more expensive than most welded wire I've seen.
With the spiral twist design, if one wire breaks, the rest will spread.

I have a 60 lb hound that will go through it in just a few minutes if he decides he wants out.
My other hound just climbs over it.

Anything larger gauge than "chicken wire" will stop 99.9% of common predators.​
Thank you for the information.

The no-climb I'm thinking of is meant for the horses. Our pastures are fenced with it and it's woven wire, not welded. It's held up to the horses' shenanigans so I don't think a raccoon could break it. However, they could easily reach through it. So I'm not sure if they would be able to reach if it were used a few feet higher.
We have a roll of chicken wire that was used for other gardening projects (never chickens, haha) and I hate the stuff. Not to mention that stupid stuff keeps slicing me up if I even look at it.

georgiagail - Do your gates in the run allow you access to it or did you cover over them with hardware cloth? Do you ever have problems with anything (chicken or otherwise) squeezing through the gaps in the gate?

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom