How to prevent pests from tunneling into coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by fargosmom, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. fargosmom

    fargosmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 27, 2008
    Pasadena, CA
    Sorry if this has already been done to death - we're going to build our first coop and run soon and I know we have pests in our neighborhood. We definitely have raccoons, rats, possums and skunks (plus my two crazy dogs). I'd like to bury something around the perimeter as a barrier to tunneling but I'm not sure what's best - will 12" of hardware cloth be enough, or does it need to be deeper or solid? And if I bury hardware cloth, how long before it rusts away? We live in Southern California so most of the year the soil isn't very wet, but I'd hate to do all the digging and then have to do it again too soon.
  2. birdsofparadise

    birdsofparadise Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2008
    North Kohala, Hawaii
    12" of 1/2" hardware cloth will stop just about everything. Depending on the alkalinity of your soil, it should last 12 - 18 months. In Vegas, it barely lasted a year in the ground. You might think about a small electric fence charger if the dogs and bigger pests are really aggressive.
  3. Chickenfortress

    Chickenfortress Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 8, 2008
    Since any fencing will degrade in a direct burial situation I chose some thing a bit more resistant. I used Galvanized fence posts right below the ground, in a line right at the base of the fencing. I also put large and small shards of broken glass in a trench one foot deep by one foot wide all around the run and the coop. The glass is covered in dirt to protect the chickens. The poles force the animals to dig a little farther out and keep them from getting at the bottom edge of the wire. Next time I'll use scrap angle iron there instead, this is just what I had available.
  4. dixiechick

    dixiechick Chillin' With My Peeps

    electric fence at the bottom
  5. New2Peeps

    New2Peeps Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2008
    I butted patio pavers right up to the bottom board of the run and haven't had any problems yet. An animal usually tries to dig right next to the fence and the paver prevents that.
  6. Sissy

    Sissy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2007
    Sevier county, Tn.
    Heavy duty pads of
    Steel wool, stretched along the bottom about 8nches deep.
    I bought bags of it and it seems to being fine but also
    have 3 cats who earn their keep.
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    If you don't have any determined diggers 12" deep may be enough. Foxes will however HAPPILY and easily dig below that; potentially dogs or coyotes too if they really want in.

    Another possibility to consider is putting your digproof barrier horizontal, on or just barely below the surface of the ground, rather than trenching it in vertically. Many people have good results with 2-3' of 2x4 welded wire used this way, either pinned well down or covered with turf or covered with rocks or concrete rubble or large pavers. (you would need hardwarecloth to stop rats, tho). The reason this works is that critters trying to dig in will typically start at the foot of the fence, rather than backing up 4' and trying to tunnel in from back there.

    Any mesh or wire you bury needs to be a) galvanized and b) as heavy gauge as possible. Yes, even galvanized metal WILL rust underground (everywhere the coating gets scratched); how long it lasts is too dependant on climate, gauge, etc to make any general prescriptions about, other than heavy-gauge wire in a fairly dry climate can last "a good while".

    If rats are a problem, I am not sure how practical it is to keep them out of the run altogether. Although it is true that hardwarecloth or closely-set large pavers (especially if buried vertically) would at least limit the amount of soil damage they do around the run fencing.

    Good luck,

  8. conny63malies

    conny63malies Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 22, 2008
    Annetta Kentucky
    when my grandma saw a hole in her dirtfloor coop she would smash up a glassbottle mix it in with some plaster of paris or quick cement and poured it in the hole . Than she poured some more regular cement over it and next time the rats or whatever tried to dig they would hurt their paws , trying to reopen the hole. Usually they left then.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
  9. scogind

    scogind Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 29, 2008
    Save yourself a lot of digging and lay the wire on the ground. Less than one season you'll be able to mow over the wire. Use a heaver guage wire than hardware cloth, it'll last longer. My 2" x 4" dog wire has been down for nine years.
  10. arlosmine

    arlosmine Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 18, 2008
    I just bought twenty concrete patio pavers at home depot for the floor of a small coop... Layed them out and set the whole shebang on top of it, with a layer of pavers extending beyond the coop all around. Solved the preditor problem and the no-muddy floor to clean problem in one fell swoop.

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