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how important is hardware cloth/wire on bottom of coop & run?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by lilmama, May 2, 2010.

  1. lilmama

    lilmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello-
    I just had a nice little coop built and am planning to have the run built soon (chicks are 5 weeks.) I did not have hardware cloth installed on the bottom of the coop. We live in a downtown area (not in the boondocks somewhere) not sure if that matters. I know it's probobly better to do it, but, it would be an added cost, of course, and a pain to add it to the coop as it is finished already. That said, if it's a common problem to have predators come in from the bottom, I want to do it. comments? personal experiences?
    Thanks
     
  2. RedfogsFlock

    RedfogsFlock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When we lived in town we never had a problem with ground critters. We did have the occasional mouse in the hen house, but they always made fast work of them! BUT now that were out in the open we have rattlesnakes, and what looks like wolf spiders. We only had chicken wire enclosing in our coop, nothing more. We had a bigger problem with cats killing our chickens more than anything else!
     
  3. bakerjw

    bakerjw Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have the same question myself. I have and elevated coop with a floor and an attached run that is going to be a chicken tractor. The coop is entirely enclosed (with ventilation) and the girls will be put up in there every night for safe keeping. I had planned on putting hardware cloth on the bottom of the fencing to keep coons from reaching through but since they won't be out there I am not sure if it is necessary. The run currently has 2"x4" welded fence wire to keep larger critters out. Chicken wire isn't as durable but it is much cheaper.
     
  4. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    It's true that using ALL (sides and top) hardware cloth for a run is expensive; however, it's a one time purchase thing that will last for many years, years of knowing that you have safe, live chickens. Chicken wire and 2x4 farm fencing will keep few things out. Do it right from the beginning; it's MUCH cheaper in the long run.
     
  5. dfclimber

    dfclimber Out Of The Brooder

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    We live in the suburbs but have raccoons,skunks etc. On our coop we made an apron of 1/2inch hardware cloth extending around the perimeter 18-24". We then covered with 2 inches of dirt and added grass seed (rather than digging and burring the hardware cloth). Animals that try to burrow under will do so where the coop meets the ground. They don't think to back up 18" angle down and then back up- they just look for another easier location to burrow. In the first couple of weeks we did find a number of attempted burrow holes at the coop base but they have since stopped out of frustration.
    D
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    [​IMG] welcome to the forum! [​IMG] Glad you are here! [​IMG]

    If you don't believe you have predators like raccoons, possums, skunks, and foxes in your immediate area, I suggest you call your local animal control and find out what they have to say about that. You might be very surprised, even in the middle of downtown. Unless your yard is very securely fenced, dogs are around for sure.

    What does your coop look like? Is it on the ground or elevated? What will your run look like? Will it be totally enclosed from the ground up, including a very secure top? It is very difficult to make a larger run really secure, but it is possible with a smaller run.

    If the coop is on the ground, I would suggest not putting hardware cloth on the bottom. Chickens love to scratch and the wire gets in their way. Instead, I'd suggest an apron around the coop, or coop and run. You can use less expensive wire than hardware cloth, something like welded wire but look at what you have on hand and the cost of buying additional wire. If you have it, use it. The idea is that you attach a section of wire, maybe 18" wide, to the bottom of your coop and let it run out horizontally away from your coop. Don't use chicken wire as it is not heavy enough to really stop a predator and it is so thin it will rust away pretty quickly. You can leave it on the surface of the ground or bury it a couple of inches. The predator starts to dig under the fence or wall but hits the wire and cannot go any further. They don't know enough to back up and dig. Sometimes predators don't dig under a fence. They push their way under. You'd be surprised how little room it really takes for them to do that.

    You asked for actual experience. I did not put an apron around my run, just my coop. The bottom of the wire on the run was at ground level or just below and was stretched very tight. I saw a possum walk under the fence, hardly slowing down, just at dusk, not after dark. The chickens had just gone to roost and the possum followed them into the coop through the pop door. I have not had anything dig under my coop, but then I do have an apron around the coop.

    Good luck!!
     
  7. lilmama

    lilmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks you everyone. Love it here!
    Ridgerunner- my coop is on the ground and two sides are snuggled into the corner of a 6.5 ft. fence. The coop is fully enclosed with hardware wire and is free standing, but placed in the corner, by the fence. The roof is corrugated metal. So, I was going to open up the far side of the wire, and from there enlarge for a run. In other words, the coop and the run will be fully connected and fully enclosed in hardware wire.
    I did a lot of research on the apron idea last night and I think it's a good one. What about putting large cinder blocks on top of the apron? It seems like that would help deter predators as well. I mean, can raccoons and possums- which we have- move big cinder blocks? I get the idea that many predators won't figure it out to back up 1 foot or two and start tunneling from there. But what about rats? Are they of the same mind? I guess one just has to make sure the apron is done very well. I have little kids so I do need to put bricks or cinder blocks on top of it.....
     
  8. lilmama

    lilmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    and, p.s. I will prolly hardware wire the top of the run...to let more sunlight thru.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    You can weight the apron wire down if you want to or you could just bury it a couple of inches. Say scoop off the sod, install the apron, then put the sod back on top. Something solid, like blocks, can tell them where to start digging. I just laid mine on the ground surface and put a few rocks on it to help it lay flat. In the run section where the chickens keep the grass eaten, the dirt just naturally covered it. I'm sure their constant scratching helped. On the sides of the coop not in the run, the grass quickly grew through it and held it down.

    Possums, raccoons and even skunks and foxes can climb well. If your run is at all open on top, it is not secure.

    Rats are another issue. They will tunnel long ways and use mole runs to breech your security. They can get through tiny cracks and holes. Rats are real hard to keep out. They usually don't harm grown chickens, but they will eat eggs and young chicks. I think the best defence against them is to is to gather your eggs every evening so you don't have eggs in the coop overnight. I don't know if small chicks are an issue with you or not.
     
  10. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:Rats is just one of the many reasons to have at least eight inches of construction sand on your run's floor. No rat can tunnel up through a foot of loose sand without being buried alive in it.
     

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