how high for Hardware cloth??

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13 Years
Apr 15, 2010
Boerne, TX
I have a pen that is completely wrapped in chicken wire, including a wide apron, buried a few inches under the soil. I was thinking about letting them sleep in there when our temps stay really hot at night. My question is, how high should we install hardware cloth from the ground up? I want to insure their safety.
We have a combination enclosed coop/run and we put hardware cloth around the entire thing including the roof. The reason we did this is twofold: A) our Spanish-speaking-only neighbors across the alley have a young dog that they let roam wherever (he's going to get hit by a car driving along the alley, eventually, but . . . ) and the dog is known for chasing wild birds like crows and robins, and B) we also have a semi-wild alley cat, who I personally have seen stalking crows.

I don't doubt for a second that those two animals will consider our new pullets a lunch buffet, so we're taking precautions. There will be a real roof (which we're creating this week) on our run in addition to the hardware cloth, we're padlocking all three doors, the nest boxes are *inside* the raised hen house, we're going to put down an apron as well, and on two sides of the coop/run (basically, the far corner, where a predator would most likely come from), it's also protected by a 4' chain link fence.

We hope that predators (including humans!) will discover that there are easier alternatives and leave our birds alone.

We put hardware cloth on the top because we have smart squirrels. And when we were framing our enclosure, wild birds loved it and would perch as though they owned it! We need to keep them out too -- we don't want to feed the entire sparrow population of Central Minnesota with our chicken feed!

We do know that the hardware cloth, even without tying the ends together (ours was only 12" deep!) is strong enough as it is right now to keep a charging 40ish pound dog out . . . one of our Standard Poodles got crazy when she saw the Spanish neighbor's dog in the alley and forgot the coop was there (this was a scant 24 hours after we'd put the cloth on!) and she barreled right smack dab into the side of the coop and therefore quite literally bounced off the cloth. The cloth still looks newly installed.

She shook herself a couple times and pranced right off, defending her yard -- and has now been quite careful since to avoid getting anywhere near the coop, LOL. If the hardware cloth is strong enough to easily rebuff a 24" high (at the shoulder) 40# dog in full flight, it ought to stand up to just about anything.

Nevertheless, we also know that a determined predator is a different thing than a goofy dog forgetting where large objects in the yard are.

I say, put hardware cloth everywhere . . . you never know where it might keep a predator out and save your birds.

Most who add hardware cloth around the bottom do so at least 24 inches high. But this is really more a daytime deterrant than a nighttime one. I would strongly advise against leaving your chickens out in a pen at night if chicken wire is used though. Racoons can climb right up and rip through chicken wire, pull it out at the staples...they don't need to reach through to grab anything. If you're not securing your chickens inside housing at night, I'd use something much heavier than chicken wire on your run (all the way around, not just at the bottom), JMO.
To deter predators, put the hardware cloth on all sides, including top. Your local hardware store should be able to order you a 100' roll to save a little money. Your chickens might still go inside at night though, if they do already.
My hardware cloth is 2' high, and that seems to be doing a good job of keeping my large dogs separated from the chickens. However, as stated above, if you only have chicken wire instead of welded wire, I would not leave them out at night. It might be better to make some screen doors for your coop that you can replace the solid doors with during the hottest months of the year.
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