Deciding between chicken wire and hardware cloth is only one of the initial decisions to be made by a new chicken keeper, when building a chicken coop and enclosure. There are certain topics that veteran chicken owners are all too familiar with. But, what about those who are new to raising poultry? I often will cover a topic that may seem mundane and too basic but I believe there are a substantial number of people who are looking for the very basic information to help them get started raising chickens. Knowing when to use chicken wire and hardware cloth is one of these areas.
If it’s called chicken wire, it must be for chickens, right?
Chicken wire is widely recognized as the hexagon shaped welded fencing wire, commonly used on farms for various fencing. Experienced poultry owners know that the use of chicken wire for poultry is limited. Choose wisely between chicken wire and hardware cloth, because while one will keep your chickens in the chosen area, it will not keep predators out.
In the blog, Bytes Daily, Otto wrote a little explanation of chicken wire.
“chicken wire was invented in 1844 by British ironmonger Charles Barnard. He developed it for his father, a farmer, the manufacturing process being based on cloth-weaving machines. Apparently the town of Norwich, where Barnard Junior had his business, had a plentiful supply of cloth weaving machines.”
There are some instances where chicken coop wire is the perfect choice of wire, but when talking about securing your feathered friends in their run or coop, I do not recommend chicken wire. While it may keep a small flock of chickens in a set area, it is not very strong. Predators can easily move it out of their way, rip it or tear it open to gain access to your chickens, or other small vulnerable livestock. It is similar to cloth in that it is woven together. Don’t learn this difference between chicken wire and hardware cloth the hard way.
Here are a few instances where chicken wire may be used successfully.
Chicken wire can be used to keep pullets separated from the older chickens inside the chicken run.
Good choice when used to keep chickens out of the garden
Chicken wire is also useful when temporarily plugging holes at the fence base line to keep chickens in the run. Fold or crumple up a piece of chicken wire and stuff it into the hole. Cover with dirt and pack down. Make a more permanent fence repair as soon as possible.
Chicken wire and hardware cloth are both good for burying underground around the perimeter of the chicken coop and run to deter predators from digging into the coop. Most predators will only try to dig in for a short time. When they reach a wire barrier they will often quit digging and move to another spot.
Great for craft projects! Chicken wire is used for accents and building armatures for sculptures.
And Chicken Wire makes a pretty interesting texture in a photograph.
When Deciding Between Chicken Wire and Hardware Cloth
The preferred wire fencing to use for coop security is called hardware cloth. I am not sure how it got the name because it is much stronger than cloth! It does not bend as easily and is welded making it a stronger product.
In our chicken coop we have six windows. (Here’s the story behind our coop ) All of the windows are covered with hardware cloth with 1 inch square Hardware cloth comes in various size mesh. The 1/4 inch size has a very tiny mesh and the 2 x 2 and 2 x 4 mesh would be too large of a mesh, allowing small predators to slip through. I personally recommend either the 1/2 inch or 1 inch mesh. Hardware cloth is most often a galvanized, welded metal product that is extremely durable.
Make sure you attach it to the window or vent openings using screws, and a sturdy board to hold it in place.
Safety Issues of Chickens and Chicken Wire
Another reason to shy away from chicken wire is the possibility of it causing injury to your birds.
Since chicken wire is flimsy, it can break and fall apart leaving hazards for your chicken’s feet. Chicken wire should never be used as a flooring for a coop as it can contribute to foot injuries, including bumblefoot. Chicken toes can get caught in the wire and lead to broken toes. Broken, worn wire sticking out can cause scratches, eye injuries and cuts.
Paying attention to coop safety will help your chickens lead a long and happy life!
This Post appeared first on Backyard Poultry Magazine.com
Kristi Stone says
Good post Janet! So basically, chicken wire is to keep chickens in, not keep predators out. 🙂 I use the half inch hardware cloth for lining my gardens (to keep gophers out), but hadn’t thought of using it for my chicken coop. We actually do have chicken wire on the front of it. Will have to see how it works out, I don’t know that we have predators that would break it open. I’ll definitely be watching from now on, though!
Janet Garman says
Yes basically, the chicken wire will keep most chickens in the area you want them in. But it is not strong enough to hold up to most predators.
I love your post. And your whole blog! We had something a little stronger than chicken wire on ours, but something tore a big hole in it close to the bottom during the night last summer. Lucky for us, all of our chickens sleep up high on their roosting poles, so whatever it was couldn’t get a chicken and went home hungry. My husband replaced it with stronger fencing. But baby chicks could get out through that and the mother couldn’t protect them. So he went around the bottom 12 inches with an extra layer. This time he used hardware cloth. Now baby chicks can’t get out, and hopefully predators cannot get in.
Janet Garman says
IT is an ongoing process! I know we are always trying to beat the wildlife here too thank you for visiting! I hope you will come back often – Janet
michelle french says
i use hardwear cloth on my coops doors and for the yard i use chicken wire.. and construction cloth..
Janet Garman says
We all find what works best for our situations and the type of predators around I am glad you found what works well for your coop!
I would suggest electric chicken netting and a solar or plug in energizer. I have had great luck with it. It is mobile, predator proof and is available in lengths as short as 25 feet.
Make a “chicken yard” out of the fence and place the coop within the yard. Works great.
Janet Garman says
That is what we have set up now Bob. The Structure is very secure. The surrounding pen was board fencing covered in chicken wire. Worked great for years. this year an over population of foxes wreaked havoc. This year we added electric netting and a two strand electric wire set up around the whole small animal area of the farm Thanks for stopping by.
Good post. In Australia we call your hardware cloth Minimesh. It comes in different size flat sheets.
I also had a chicken stick her head through chicken wire and tore her comb when pulling her head back out.
Heidi Leathwood says
Thank you for your blog! I am preparing for getting chickens and I want to build fencing to let my chickens roam in my garden and not escape. My problem is that I have learned that galvanized steel releases lead, and I do not want to handle it or have it get in my soil. Are you aware of any non-galvanized hardware cloth?