poultry fence mesh size


In the Brooder
10 Years
Apr 23, 2009
Biwabik, MN
Greetings all!

We are newbie chicken parents, building our first coop and run. We are in a rural setting in northern MN, where there are a variety of predators. I am wondering what I should use for the covering on our run- is the standard 1" mesh "chicken wire" acceptable? I would automatically use a smaller mesh material like hardware cloth, but it is quite expensive. Any suggestions?
I would lean to the building mesh personally. The chicken wire doesn't even stand on its own. Also, dig it into the ground at least a foot and adding lava rock to the trench helps against diggers. Then if there are any flying predators- add some bird netting across the top. I know the chicken wire is less expensive and when it's rolled up seems fine- but when you unroll it you'll find it so flimsy. Your chickens will repay you for the protection.
We put hardware cloth over our pen 3' above ground and 1' below ground. So far, absolutely no signs of predator break-ins or even attempted break-ins.

I'd say the initial expense is worth the peace of mind, but that's just me.

Oh, and we were told to be very attentive to how we fastened the hardware cloth - someone told us they had a raccoon just rip it off the pen and then pulled the chickens through the fencing.
I've found that using 1"x2" welded wire for the run, and then puttting 1/2" hardware cloth around the bottom over the welded wire (get 4', bury it a foot deep) is a good solution.

Chicken wire keeps chickens in, but it won't keep anything out.
We are also in a rural setting. Our spoiled chickens have a smaller covered run made out of hardware cloth which is surrounded by a much larger run fenced with livestock fencing. We don't let the chickens into the bigger run until midmorning and make them go back into the smaller, more secure run before dusk. So far this has worked fine (knock on wood) and allowed them a much bigger overall space without the expense of having it be made fully out of hardware cloth.

It's a risk, but it's a calculated risk.
I should have been more specific about the run construction. I plan to build a framework out of 4X4 cedar material such that there is a post every 4 feet connected by 3 ft high rails. This framework will sit on the ground, and I will dig a trench 1 ft deep all around the run, then bury the fencing material 1 ft deep, backfill and cover the ground with fieldstones that we have.

I would like to build this run about 8 feet wide and 12 feet long (increments of 4 feet, to use standard 48" screen). The area closest to the coop will be covered with removeable metal roofing sheets for winter snow protection.

That said, could I now get away with poultry netting since it will be well supported? We would need 3 50 ft rolls of netting to enclose this run. that's $100 if we use chicken wire and probably double if we go with hardware cloth. I was hoping to spend as little as possible, but do want to keep the girls safe!

I thought the risk with chicken wire was that a small predator like weasels might be able to get through. But sounds like some feel a larger predator could actually break through this material?

I saw a dashound go through a hevy screened door in minutes. A large dog can go through reg. chicken wire without difficulty. Having said that I nor some of the others could afford the stonger wire all the way. I put A 2x4 wire over the bottom 4 feet on top of the chicken wire and use chicken wire on top. I hope all does well for you. Gloria Jean
Not wanting to beat this issue to death, but one more clarification needed.

Is there anything that can get through a 1" size mesh, as is? I've been told weasels can sneak through the tiniest of openings...if this is true, then it seems like covering a chicken wire fence with a larger, stronger fence would still leave it susceptible to a break-in (heck, even if they couldn't fit through the 1" hole, they might be able to open it up enough to get in...). And if that is true, I should just go with the hardware cloth all around, and be done with it, rather than trying to build a double layer system.

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