How to cover lopsided run against hawks?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by featherz, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    We put up a rather haphazard run for our guineas that we covered with bird netting to keep the hawks out. Worked well enough, but we had to rehome the guineas so the coop now has chickens. During the winter, I hear the bird netting will get bogged down with snow - any budget way to cover a rather large run that isn't a nice even square or rectangle AND is rather weak near the top? Tarps won't work - the snow would just collapse the whole run, I think.

    More details - we ran 50 feet of 6' high welded wire in a rough circle out from the coop and used those green metal fence post things to secure it. It's also got a welded wire skirt running out from the bottom and 2 feet of 1/2 inch hardware cloth along the entire base. The birds are all closed in the coop at night. It's not fort knox, but our main predators during the day appear to be hawks in this area. I'd like to put something more substantial on the top that will hold up to snow, but the top is rather weak and unsupported. Currently we have pink ribbons [​IMG] [​IMG] crisscrossed over the entire run to discourage hawks - this has worked SO FAR but I know when I put younger birds in there might be more temptation. Or would this be sufficient?

    I've tried chicken wire as a topper, but the welded wire does not have enough support. My DH is a little less than helpful (I think he's tired of building coops and our last two ARE fort knox) so I might have to do most of this myself.I'm thinking I may have to put some sort of wood or pvc frame on, but I'd prefer not to rip out the run we currently have - it was a lot of work attaching the hardware cloth and the skirt, which is embedded in the ground.

    Anyways, I know this thread needs pictures and I'll post them when I get home! [​IMG]
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Crisscrossed ribbon-or-string-or-whatever is probably the best you're going to get. If you put ENOUGH of it on, and it is reasonably well visible, anecdotal reports suggest it does a pretty good job of deterring both hawks and chickens (though obviously it will not be *as* 100% as real netting).

    If I were going to have an open-topped run in winter, I think I'd be doing the crisscrossed-string type approach, for wahtever that's worth. (Actually, thinking about it, what I would use is some of the nine bazillion pieces of long heavy-duty synthetic baler twine off the 600-lb big square bales we get our hay in. So if you know someone with a surplus of baler twine, you could see if they'd like to unload some [​IMG])

    Try to use something that will not sag too badly, or break, with snow or ice load. Because yes, they WILL build up on the material and weigh it down. I would not count on plastic surveyor's tape, if that's what you're using, holding up too reliably for too long.

    Good luck, have fun,

  3. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    What we have is the long thin plastic ribbon that's actually decently strong, but I'll put some twine crisscrossed and see what happens there. The run is too big to cover completely against snow, so I'll provide some sort of outside shelter area over the pop door and we'll see what happens. Maybe it will work. [​IMG]
  4. Hottchick

    Hottchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2010
    We used wire crisscrossed into a grid pattern to deter the hawks. The wire is the same wire that you would use in an electric fence. The wires run from the coop to the back edge of the fence and from side to side of the run. They are woven over and under to help hold them together. It's worked so far for me. One night we got home late and it was about midnight before I could close the pop door. I could hear a great horned owl hooting very close to the coop in the woods behind the house but it didn't come into the run.

    Oh, and since the wire is shiny, I think they can see it clearly. My husband attached it to the coop using "eye" parts of hook and eye closures, screwing them into the coop. It's tall enough to walk in too.:\\[​IMG]
    Oh, it's 17 gauge galvanized steel wire. I found the roll.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010
  5. bills

    bills Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2008
    vancouver island
    Hang a few fishing flashers on swivels, from some cross wire. That may act as a deterant. They spin even in a gentle breeze.

    Initially I worried about birds of prey, as we have a lot of Bald eagles, and hawks around here, but thankfully, I have yet to see one even circle over the chicken run.
  6. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    Thanks! We had two possible hawk kills, that's why I am shoring it up - the kills were outside of the run, however. I think the wire is a good idea and the snow should just fall off it, I hope! [​IMG]
  7. janastasio

    janastasio Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2008
    New Hampshire
    We just recently had our first hawk attack. I was in the same situation of how to cover my coop because its very irregular in shape. Our run is on a hill so the top is higher than the bottom and its about 50x30 feet. We found a great deal on netting for aviaries on amazon at a good price. We paid $62 for a 50x50 net. I did have to shorten by run by about 7 feet make a better plan for attaching the net, but its nylon and sturdy and should go a great job. Best of luck.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by