Keeping the raccoons out - are cable ties strong enough?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by calbirder, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. calbirder

    calbirder New Egg

    Oct 7, 2008
    Hi All -

    This is my first post here on BackyardChickens, though I have been lurking for months. I just bought my first coop - an Eglu Cube - and I'm getting it ready for the hens I'm picking up next weekend. Before I add birds, though, I want to make it as predator proof as possible since it would break my heart to have them killed by a raccoon.

    Unfortunately the Cube comes with 1" x 2" wire mesh since it is made in England where they apparently don't have raccoons. To make it more raccoon resistant I covered the bottom three feet of the pen, plus the 1 foot skirt, with 1/2" x 1/2" hardware cloth and it seems pretty darn secure to me now. My question is this: I've used about a zillion cable ties (ok, a little over 200) to attach the hardware cloth to the pen and I can't pull the tighter mesh off myself so I'm hoping that a raccoon can't either.

    Has anyone else used cable ties to attach hardware cloth to a larger mesh, and was it strong enough to keep out raccoons? I was afraid to use wire twists to hold it on because the hens might cut themselves on it. I'd appreciate any feedback on this.

    Thank you!

    Oakland, CA

    The Eglu Cube Arrives in 5 big boxes


    The Cube, in pieces in my yard. Looks like it exploded!


    Completely assembled - this is before I added the 1/2" hardware cloth to it


    My urban backyard - 36' x 50'. Let me tell you how envious I am of those of you with acreage!

    Last edited: Nov 15, 2009
  2. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    A strategic raccoon COULD theoretically break the cable ties, i guess, but i'd say it's unlikely. They would have to actually be trying to cut the cable tie with their nasty little nails.

    However, raccoons are generally a problem at night - not normally during the day - and if you are diligent to lock them up in the solid coop area during the night, they should be safe. That's what i do.

    Great coop, by the way. Great set-up for a back yard flock. [​IMG]
  3. calbirder

    calbirder New Egg

    Oct 7, 2008
    Thanks for the feedback Beth!

    I'm hoping to leave the door of the coop open at night since I am not an early riser and chickens most certainly are. If I leave it open they can at least go out into the run (the part covered with the 1/2 mesh) in the morning to eat, then I can let them out to free range in the yard once I'm up.

    We have very mild winters here so cold shouldn't be a problem but it's possible that the hens won't always roost inside the coop so I'm trying to make the run really secure. I do plan to check on them at dusk every evening to put them in the coop if they're not in there but it would be possible for them to go out into the run (if they got startled or something) after I check since the door would be open.

    I'm also thinking of getting a Tru-catch raccoon trap (like a Hav-a-heart) to set outside the coop at night to give a hungry raccoon an easier target (probably a marshmallow) than my hens.

    I don't think a raccoon can get through all the cable ties I've put on, but raccoons are pretty surprising creatures. I'll try to post picture of the run with the mesh on it tomorrow. Oh - I also added heavy pavers on top of the mesh skirt around the coop so no one can lift it up to get under. It's sitting on concrete so they definitely can't burrow. Am I forgetting anything? I don't have the mesh over the top of the run but even I couldn't reach all the way down to to the chickens from 3+ feet!

    Thanks again - Mary
  4. SurprisingWoman

    SurprisingWoman Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 27, 2009
    South Weber, UT

    I used a lot of zip ties to make my coop. It was fabricated from things I had around the house and I used zip ties to attach the run panels together, the run to the coop, the hardwire cloth to the bottom of the coop....

    This was all done in June. By October the zip ties were all breaking from being in the weather. It was a mess.

    I used galvanized wire and twisted it. You can use the pliers to twist it and then use needle nose pliers to bend the ends of the wire under so the girls can't hurt themselves.

    You get much better and much faster at it as you go!

    I wish I hadn't wasted my time, seriously. It is easier than you think.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    PS, you also don't want to forget about digging predators.... that open door thing might not be the best idea.

  5. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Surprising woman is dead right. Ultraviolet light degrades the plastic that those zip ties are made of over time. They are great for a quick mock-up assembly, but galvanized steel wire is best. Get the 17 gauge wire at tractor supply. The 14 gauge is too stiff to work with. Never leave home with the chooks outside of their coop/pen. Sure as the world turns, that will be the time a coon, cat, or dog will find a way into the yard and leave you a nasty surprise. I know a man who lost an entire flock that way, ducks and layers and a few roosters too. 100% kill.
  6. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    I hadn't even thought about how the zip ties might degrade. Good point!

    As to leaving the coop open at night - i know that's not what you're asking advice about - i just want you to keep in mind that raccoons are persistent and the more you remind them of the presence of your chickens, the harder they will try to get in and eat them. I don't know how late you generally sleep, but it won't hurt them at all to stay in the coop for a while in the morning.

    I'm pressing this point a little because i lost an entire flock to predators, mostly raccoons, and i'm very picky about night time security now.

    If you do decide to leave the door open at night, i'll just mention this because i can't tell from the picture, please make sure that your set up is very firmly planted in the ground. The raccoons around here are very strong and have more than once moved structures to get to my chickens.

    ISSOLA Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2008
    North Shore, MA
    Congratulations on your new Eglu Cube!

    First, I think using those zip ties to place 1/2 inch hardwire cloth is a very good idea. Please see what I did to my Eglu Cube

    placed a LOT of zip ties EVERYWHERE (at every few inch interval). My reasoning is that if a raccoon was to bite it off, it will have many many zip ties to bite, or pull; before it can get to the proper Eglu Run wire (another barrier). The presence of the raccoon biting or fiddling with zip ties, would scare my chickens into entering the eglu coop, or away from the fence of the run. Hence if the coon if ever successful in removing the 1/2 inch hardwire cloth, the raccoon will not be able to surprise attack and grab their little neckies.

    I also place 1/2 inch hardwire cloth at the top about 5 to 7 inches in width flush to roof wire and by the eglu. This would prevent the coon hands from grabbing chicken neckies if the coons are atop the eglu and placing their hands downwards towards a sleeping chicken. The chicken sleeping near the door (guarding) is usually the alpha hen. I have coons climbing on top of eglu and pulling on wire and cover (grrr...)

    In addition, I agree with breakdown of vinyl/plastic products under UV. I have also planned to change the every zip tie on an annual basis. It's not hard if you get the right tools to cut the zip tie. Hopefully your fingers are small enough to dexterously place all zip ties. Some are kinda hard and awkward to place the zip tie loops through. But it worth it.

    Awesome looking green Cube.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2009
  8. Wanda

    Wanda Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 7, 2008
    To me "zip ties" and "cable ties" are 2 different things. I used the electrical cable ties to hold up netting around my fence to keep my cats in the yard. It was put up at least 2 yrs ago and I am now in the process of taking it down because I am living in a different house. All of the cable ties are in as good a shape as when I put them up and it hasn't been easy cutting them off. I think if you use a heavy duty cable tie (not the real thin ones, they come in black to match your run) you should be ok. I would go around and check them periodically to make sure, you can always replace any that don't look right and if you cut them short, I think it would take a coon quite a while to get enough loose to get in. I would use lots of them. I think setting up the trap is also a great idea.

  9. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    I used the UV resistant, black zip ties made for outdoor use to splice together hardware cloth in my run. After I was done, I discovered these things:

    They are actually easier to use than the zip ties. You buy a special pair of pliers to affix them. So I went back and reinforced all of my seams with these clips. Belt and suspenders!
  10. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 8, 2008
    Fleetwood, PA
    If you buy the black zip ties they are ultra violet protected.

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