What material to predator-proof top of run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Gardener_in_Training, Dec 14, 2016.

  1. Gardener_in_Training

    Gardener_in_Training In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2009
    Corvallis, OR
    We have lost a couple hens to a raccoon, which tore through (what we now know is totally not secure) the plastic netting draped across the top of our run. I am looking for advice on what to cover the top with.

    Note: we are trying to raccoon-proof the run rather than their house within because we are not able to consistently get home by dusk to secure the house.

    The walls of the run are 8 ft tall with 1/2" hardware cloth along the bottom half and 2x4" welded wire on the top half. The run area is 8 ft x 16 ft, so that is the area we need to secure.

    Will 2x4" welded wire be strong enough for covering the top or do people think we need to go with hardware cloth?

    We are aiming to get this done tomorrow afternoon before we have another evening. Thanks.

  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Free Ranging

    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    2 x 4 welded wire should keep raccoons out. No need to go with hardware cloth except like you already have on the bottom. This prevents raccoons from reaching in and grabbing chickens thru the fence. You may consider an electric hot wire fencing. Not sure if it is the right thing for your run, but it is a great deterrent to predators. Chain link fencing would work also. It is a little heavier to support as a covering over the top. Keep in mind that the raccoon will return since he knows a supply of food exists inside that run. [​IMG]
  3. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016
    If your run is not covered, do you get snow? Small openings can allow a heavy snow load to buildup, and a lot of lightly constructed wire run tops can't handle it. So if that were the case, 2" x 4" wire would help with that, at the risk of allowing weasels and such a way in. They climb too. If no snow, you can drop down to whatever size you need to keep the varmints out.

    Depending on the size of your run, it may be cheaper, faster and just as effective to use an electric hot wire around the upper perimeter of the run. It's not a big run, so a small fencer should work.Almost any farm store or TSC will have one that would work. I'd use the light 17 gauge aluminum wire and 5 inch holdout insulators and tie the ground wire from the fencer directly to the run wire the varmint will be clinging to when he hits the hot wire. If you want to be mean about it, drape a piece of chicken skin over a section of hot wire to entice them to sniff it with their nose or lick it.
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road 5 Years

    Nov 7, 2012
    My understanding is that the varmint needs to be grounded to get a jolt from a hot wire. Of course if he's clinging to a metal fence, that may do the job quite nicely! The big issue here is how much snow the OP has to deal with. I'd put a hot wire or two at the bottom, but that won't work if the snow builds up to touch the wire. The 2 x 4 should allow the snow to pass through, though she may have to go out and shake it off every storm. That's a lot of fun when it falls down your collar. Been there, done that! Won't deter weasels, but neither will the existing 2 x 4 on the walls of the run. It boils down to risk assessment in relation to depth of the wallet. In addition to covering the run, here's an other consideration: Set a live trap with some stinky tuna. Catch those coons, then SSS.

  5. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Songster

    Mar 19, 2016
    34.560847, -81.154203
    My Coop
  6. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016
    The ground (literally the ground you walk on) is only used as it conducts electricity and is a convenient way to run a conductive circuit to anywhere. Provided the animal is standing on the soil, when he touches the hot wire, he closes the circuit and gets zapped. But running through the ground (soil or literally the ground you walk on) is not a requirement. If you want to know the maximum wallop your fencer is capable of, you would simply drop short wire leads from the positive side (red) and negative side (black) then grab a lead in each hand and hang on. Not far removed from that would be to attach the negative or black lead coming out of the fencer to the run wire. That way, any animal clinging to the run who then touches the hot wire is going to get the full force the fencer is capable of delivering. Not much, if any, different than grabbing the short leads coming directly from the fencer.

    To ANYONE who doubts this is a deterrent, I challenge you to grab the wires from a hot fencer testing 6,000 volts or higher. It will make a believer out of you.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  7. carlsaSC

    carlsaSC Chirping

    Aug 13, 2011
    I, too, had plastic bird netting over the run and realized that raccoons were regularly getting into the pen area. We are not in an area where snow load is a problem, but leaves and pine straw fell on the netting stressing it. Eventually, I built a ridge pole and rafters from free bamboo. (the pen area is 10' x 15') This I covered with 2" x 3" vinyl coated welded wire because it is easier to handle overhead. I tied it to the 2" x 4" ww on the vertical sides of the pen. To overcome the pine straw and leaves problem, I covered the pen top with cheap blue tarps. Now, they are protected and dry.

  8. Sandy001

    Sandy001 In the Brooder

    Oct 15, 2016
    MIddle TN
    SSS, > shot, shovel & shutup
  9. dheltzel

    dheltzel Crowing

    Nov 30, 2013
    Pottstown, PA
    2x4 welded wire makes a strong and durable cover for a run. It's not the easiest to install and ours doesn't look real pretty, but it is 100% predator proof. I have 24x24 peafowl run covered with it and the only problem I had was that I used plastic tied wraps and we had an ice storm the weighed the wire down and broke most of those. I replaced them with metal cage rings and pieces of wire and no problems since. If you do this, you can sleep well at night.

  10. Gardener_in_Training

    Gardener_in_Training In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2009
    Corvallis, OR
    Thanks for the advice and info, folks. We've decided to go with 2x4 welded wire, which we'll fold over the outer edge of the walls and staple along the top of the walls. We have wire to attach overlapping panels.

    We're in a suburban area so don't think weasels are around here. Snow is uncommon here but we also have a tarp covering most of the run (attached to an old carport frame, not the run walls). We'll keep in mind electric options if we continue to have problems.

    Thanks again!

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