Question about Chicken Wire vs Hardware cloth

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by FleetwoodMck, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. FleetwoodMck

    FleetwoodMck In the Brooder

    Dec 29, 2016
    Hi- I am currently designing our first coup and am looking for cost cutting ideas. I know predators can reach through chicken wire- my question is would using hardware cloth on the bottom 2-3ft of the run and using chicken wire on the top and for the roof be a wise thing to do? Also could I use chicken wire to place around the edge of the coup and run to act as a digging deterrent or will they dig right through it- We have just moved to the property so I'm not sure about the predators at the house- I'm assuming Raccoons- I know there have been Coyotes in the area in the past, maybe some fox ( Plant City Florida area)

    Thanks in advance fore any insight

  2. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Crowing

    Jul 19, 2015
    Eastern Shore, MD
    I do use chicken wire for my skirt (dig deterrent) and it has worked well - I did have a fox dig in before I put it down. Do know that it rusts and gets weak and will need to be replaced so keep an eye on it. It should last several years though depending on the climate.

    For my run I use chain link covered in chicken wire, but one small area is just hardwire and I have not had any issues with either area of the setup. I know I've had raccoons come around because I have game cameras. A dog or coyote could tear through either one, and make sure whatever you use to join the hardwire and chicken wire together is strong, or you will have a weak seam two feet up that a dog can tear right through.
  3. FleetwoodMck

    FleetwoodMck In the Brooder

    Dec 29, 2016
  4. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Songster

    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    The problem with chicken wire is not that an animal can reach through it, but they can actually rip it open. Dogs can do it without too much difficulty. Large dogs have been known to rip through chain link fence. The hardware wire with its smaller openings makes it so they can't grip it with their teeth, so they can't rip it apart.

    I only use chicken wire inside my coop / shed where I am trying to only fence in chickens, and not fence anything else out. For my run, I have a double layer of fence separated by 3 inches. Outer layer is 2"x4" field fence, and inner layer is 1/2" hardware wire.

    1 person likes this.
  5. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    My coop and run, rebuilt summer 2015, and worth every dime!!! Hardware cloth everywhere, and 2"x4" woven wire on the lower 4', all well attached. [​IMG]


    [​IMG] It's built on an old building foundation, so pretty dig proof. I got away with chicken wire up the sides and as a run roof for years, but it wasn't really safe, and the new build will be so much better! Mary
    1 person likes this.
  6. Dmontgomery

    Dmontgomery Songster

    Apr 1, 2014
    Longville, La

    Since you aren't sure what type of predators you have, I would recommend not using chicken wire. Yes you will absolutely save a significant amount of money on construction (depending on how big you are building), but you have a real risk of losing your chickens. Obviously hardware cloth around the bottom 2-3' will help some but if at all possible add the 2x4 welded wire shown in the pictures above.
    My coop and run is all chicken wire, no hardware cloth or welded wire at all. I have never had a predator chew or tear through it. But I have multiple dogs guarding our property from predators. My neighbor used a coop/run with chicken wire as a dog kennel for a while. His female pit bull tore through the wire and got out. We had to line it with chain link fencing after that.
  7. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016
    Missouri many chickens, how big of a run?

    There would be several ways of looking at this. Once you put birds in a run of almost any size, you can forget about them getting anything green, so a run is basically an expanded porch on a coop. A way to allow the birds to be outside and getting fresh air. You can make it as large or as small as you want, but 10 sf per bird is the rule of thumb standard.

    But assume your budget would only allow you to cover that much run space with chicken wire and not hardware cloth or my preference, 1" x 2" or smaller welded wire. What chicken wire is good for is confining chickens to a given space. They can't get through it, but a whole host of predators can. So you go with chicken wire, invest a lot of time and money into a flock of birds, and all is well for about 4 or 5 months (with accumulated costs and expenses all along the way) and within days of you getting your first egg, a predator smashes through the chicken wire and kills them all. The odds of that happening are probably 50:50 or greater, depending on your location and how secure the perimeter is beyond the run. But at that point, a run half the size of the one you built, made of sturdy stuff that nothing could get through would then look like the better way to have spent the money.

    On a limited budget, and with limited space, not only will a smaller covered run be safer, but will be easier to manage. Half the area to keep mulched with a deep layer of mulch, etc. Covered runs protect from raptors, climbing varmints, rain and sun. Basically it is a secure coop with open sides.

    Or, if chicken math is a very real concern, and you want to go large in anticipation of the future, build as large as you can, go with chicken wire for now and hope for the best until you can save enough to come back later with the good stuff. But don't be shocked if you come home one day and they are all dead.
    2 people like this.

  8. Daox13

    Daox13 Chirping

    Jan 17, 2014
    Richmond va
    My Coop
    if you haven't heard it enough by now i'll re-state it. Over time I believe people have forgotten the original intention of chicken wire. It was created and named for the sole purpose of keeping chickens in or keep them out of something but not to protect chickens from anything. its very weak in structure and if you throw on some gloves and take a nice tug on it you will see that it doesn't take much to weaken it even more. now imagine you haven't eaten in 4 days and you are HUNGRY and there is a hot steak sitting behind a row of chicken wire.... that wire would stand no chance against you and coons and other smaller predators are surprisingly strong and have very sharp TEETH.

    The design that everyone is showing you is the correct predator protection. HW cloth for the whole run with 2"x4" welded wire on the bottom. sandwich the wiring between two boards and screw them down. the HW cloth keeps out most everything (if done correctly) but a dog, coyote and a other slightly larger predator can still get through it, so you add that extra layer of welded wire only on the bottom.

    I am currently working on my coop and run now but have not gotten my welded wire up yet. You can also do this in stages if cost is an issue, just remember though that it won't be 100% protection until that welded wire is up.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  9. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016
    One of the hidden benefits about hardware cloth, welded wire and electric fences that we don't appreciate is how many predator attacks they deter that we never know about, simply for no other reason than they worked. Something might be out there every night trying hard to get in and we never know about it because nothing ever happens. You get up in the morning or come home at night and all is well. That is the goal and that is why we do it.

    Coop Wins 100%
    Coons Wins 0%

    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  10. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chirping

    Nov 28, 2016
    Douglas County, Minnesota
    I'll offer a less-cautious opinion. I'm pretty new at raising chickens, but feel I have a fairly good knowledge of predator behavior.

    My run consists of 165-feet of electric poultry netting, 4-feet high. Once winter ends, I will let my birds free-range, if they continue to lay eggs in the coop.

    I make sure there is some kind of cover - often a piece of scrap plywood propped up, within 10 to 15 feet of any place in the run, for the birds to dive under in case of hawks.

    For my coop, I've tried to eliminate any gap larger than 1/2 inch that something could make it through. I've heard of people losing their entire flock to Least Weasels around me, so small gaps are what I fear. I have settled on larger gaps, using chicken wire, for higher places, like the square cut-out in the ceiling that goes into the attic of my coop. The attic area though has no point of entrance from the outside larger than 1/2 inch (and other than ventilation, none of those).

    I've also regretted settling for chicken wire over the windows in my coop. Really worry about it, and wish I had hardware cloth up there. At the time, I was worrying about aerial predators, relying on the electric fencing that circles the coop to keep out ground-based intruders.

    The short version of what I'm saying: I rely on my chickens ability to escape predators when they're outside their coop, being sure to equip them to do so with places to hide and that sort of thing. It's the coop itself that I've tried to make as secure as I can, as that is when they are most vulnerable.

    I would like to provide more security, but I try to balance my concerns with what I think the risks are. Electric fencing is more expensive, so without it, I definitely wouldn't allow those larger openings I've tolerated for my windows.

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