Has anyone lost any chickens using wire skirting/aprons around run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MamaDee, May 18, 2012.

  1. MamaDee

    MamaDee In the Brooder

    Feb 1, 2012
    Wetumpka, Alabama
    We'll be constructing a new run soon with 1/2 in. hardware cloth, enclosing the whole thing with it. My thoughts were to cover the run floor with it also, which would then have several inches of dirt and sand over it.. Like all of us, I want the run super secure, especially since we live surrounded by woods with every type of critter (no bears or mt. lions) to worry about. Those of you who have experience with skirting (aproning) the wire down and out, has a predator ever been able to get in? If so, using those methods, how could it have been avoided? What would you have done differently?
    Alternately, does digging straight down 12" or so work just as well? I have one area where an apron won't work due to space restrictions.
    Thanks in advance :)
  2. mendogurl

    mendogurl Songster

    Mar 2, 2009
    Fort Knox.
    Do it!
  3. En Plein Air Farms

    En Plein Air Farms Songster

    Feb 14, 2010
    Kalama SW Washington
    No expert here, but chickens love to dig for treasure, and to dust, in their playpens. If you were only doing a shallow ground cover I'm thinking there is the remote possibility of them digging into the wire and damaging their toes/nails. Just a thought.

    We bought a 10' square dog pen, chain link, so the sides are not a problem, but based on all the good advice here we
    put down 2X4's, cut our mesh (I think we used the same as your plan, or else no climb horse fencing) 24" wide and stapled it to the centers of the 2x4's, then set up the pen on top of that. So 12" on both the inside and outside diameter of the pen.

    Like you, we could conceivably get any kind of animal local to the Pacific NW USA, but in addition to the care we put into securing the pen we also have all 2.5 acres tightly fenced. Some will jump over, I have seen a bobcat in the goat paddock, but it keeps out coyotes etc. and our animals in.

    Back to the ground cover in the pen. Again, based on the good advice I got here I put a full foot of clean sawdust (not cedar...pine or fir) in the pen. After about 3 months the 9 hens had stomped it down pretty good, so I added another 6-8" over all. It is 3 years later and you could pretty much lay down in there and not get dirty. I've turned what's there 3 or 4 times, but it is all good clean compost/sawdust, haven't added any in a Long time. I purposely put the coop and pen not 25 feet from my office so I could see them and there is no smell at all.

    I don't put anything on the plywood floor, just keep the coop cleaned.
    that's my girls home in a nutshell :) Welcome to the light side of life.
    Last edited: May 18, 2012
    AuntChickie and eggup like this.
  4. Jaxon4141

    Jaxon4141 Chirping

    Feb 18, 2012
    I use aprons/skirts on the out side of my runs and coop. My folk used this same method. I have never seen a predator dig into a run with that type of setup. I use them in for my mobile coops and runs and have never had a problem with predators. I never bury the skirts, just pin the outside of the skirt with U shaped pieces of wire and they will self bury over time.
    Wire under chickens is not the best thing for chickens. It can lead to any number of problem for them
    cwren likes this.
  5. joan1708

    joan1708 Songster

    May 14, 2011
    DFW - mid cities, Tx
    I also have 12 inches of hardware cloth on the inside and outside of my main run. I have an extended run and the hardware cloth only goes out 6 inches or so (there are tree trunks in the way). The wire on the inside is tacked down securely and there is lots of bedding on top. I've had these chickens for about 3 months in the city and so far, all is well. My predators are my dogs, possums, ferrel cats and vermin. I think there were armadillos in my yard last year.
    Last edited: May 19, 2012
  6. bald egg

    bald egg In the Brooder

    Nov 16, 2009
    NE Kansas
    I have 1/2 hardware cloth burried a foot down and two feet out. My run has a tin roof. Pop door is open 24/7. Going on 3 years with no problems. Two pit bulls run free in our neighborhood and coons are frequently in the trash. The threat is there but the chickens are safe. May cost a little more in the construction phase but well worth the cost. My Dad had a slapped together coop as I was growing up and he constantly fed the predators. I didn't want to do that.
  7. CarolJ

    CarolJ Dogwood Trace Farm

    Jun 3, 2011
    Middle Tennessee
    We have 1/2-inch hardware cloth skirting around our coop and run - it extends out at least a foot - and it extends in about a foot. I think it's about as secure as we can make it. We live in the middle of woods, too - so there are lots of predators around. So far, so good.
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
  8. redhotchick

    redhotchick Chirping

    May 22, 2011
    Fort Worth
    I used to think my pens would keep my birds safe. But after watching a coyote take a birds out of my courtyard 5ft from my window. A hungry animal can not be stopped. Till I got a Great Pyrenees. Problem solved! You might see a mouse in your yard but the preditor problem goes away. Chickens are a target.
  9. MamaDee

    MamaDee In the Brooder

    Feb 1, 2012
    Wetumpka, Alabama
    Thanks, all, for your replies. I'm (kind of) leaning towards skirting rather than a buried wire floor, but with two lengths of the run an apron is not possible (obstacles). How secure is digging and placing the hardware cloth straight down 12 or so inches into the ground? Are there critters that tenacious to keep digging that deep to get down and under the fence at that depth? I'm so new to how far predators will go but don't want to take any chances!
  10. Jaxon4141

    Jaxon4141 Chirping

    Feb 18, 2012
    Digging straight down with fencing is not as effective as a skirt coming out horizontal. Some predators like foxes and coyotes can dig down a foot or more in no time at all. Skirts stop that digging where it starts, at the run fence. Skirts do not need to be buried to be effective. A lot of people bury the skirts but from using them on movable runs I have found over the years it is not necessary. Fencing that is laying on the ground will soon disappear on its own if left undisturbed.

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