Chicken Wire and Hardware Cloth for Coops

chicken wire and hardware cloth

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. 

chicken coop decisions
chicken wire or hardware cloth

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.

building a safe chicken coop enclosure

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.

chicken theme memo board

And Chicken Wire makes a pretty interesting texture in a photograph.

chicken wire

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. 

chicken coop door

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.

hardware cloth

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!

chicken wire and hardware cloth

This Post appeared first on Backyard Poultry

Chicken Coop Security Barriers

 Small Animal and Chicken Coop Security Barriers

 Chicken Coop security barriers

A couple of months ago, we had a devastating attack from a very persistent fox. It had been by once before and killed a hen. We saw no trace of her except for some feathers. We tightened up the fencing and found the hole in the fence the fox created and repaired it. Our vigilance increased because we know that once they find an easy source of food, they often return when their stomach starts to growl again. In addition,  we suspected that this was a momma fox because we could hear the kits calling in the distance each evening. This would make her even more intent on finding a nearby source of food. Read the inital story here


 Chicken Coop Security Barriers

Still, it was quite a shock when the fox returned two weeks later and managed to kill 4 chickens and a duck while my son left to get hay from another building. He wasn’t gone long but when he returned the fox was there and had done a lot of damage already. I have heard  that a fox will watch and wait for an opportunity. 

Backyard coop security barriers

The next couple of weeks we kept the chickens, ducks and rabbits in their housing unless we could  be there to watch. This fox is very bold. She has returned even when we are there, and the dogs have run her off a few times. That fast food is just too hard to resist. 

Chicken Coop Security Barriers

Chief is one of our first lines of defense against predators but he is not always at the farm because he stays where we are.

Extra Lines of Defense- Chicken coop security

We began to think of what would work for us as extra security barriers for the small livestock. Our chicken run is large and partially covered. Covering it completely may be possible but not without a crew of people holding netting and wire up in the air while it is secured. Plus, the wire would not deter a fox or hold the weight of a large racoon or fox with out collapsing into the coop. All of our animal pens have wire buried underground to deter digging in or out of the pens. The housing is raised up from ground level to prevent a predator from easily breaking in through the floor. 

The decision was made to electrify the fencing for now, and we are adding extra layers of fencing. The decision is partly based on the time of day of the attacks. We are getting  the visits in the middle of the afternoon as opposed to something breaking in at night. Our coops are secure and we have not had something break in after the animals and birds are put in for the night. This daytime predator was going to be a problem though because I can’t sit there all day everyday and I want the chickens, ducks and rabbits to be outside. So, we decided to add the first layer of electric fencing to the existing fence. The fox had been climbing the fence or busting through the wire so this would at least slow her down. The chicken coop security was about to get serious. 


chicken coop security barriers

Our original fencing, was chicken wire over board fencing. Now we added a layer of welded cattle panels.

Electric Netting Fence

Next we purchased a electric netting fence to surround the rather large perimeter where the small  animals are housed. So far, the fox has not been able to gain entry back into the chicken run. The ducks and rabbits have covering over their runs. I have started to breath a little easier about leaving the farm for what ever reason I need to,without locking all the animals up in their buildings. 


chicken coop security barriers

 More than one way to add security from predators

This is not the only way to add barriers to your poultry and small animal area. Some might think that this was a costly way to go about solving the predator problem. Most of what we used we had on hand from the pig and cattle fencing. We keep extra electric fence power supply units on hand in case one fails. No one wants to be looking for a power unit while pigs are running loose. So the expense on the first layer of electric fencing was negligible because we had the materials on hand. The second layer, the charged netting,  was an expense. Was it necessary? I don’t know. I had been planning to purchase this type of fencing anyway, to control the free ranging of the ducks and future geese. Only time will tell whether this will help keep the fox and other predators from getting into my small animal runs. 

Roosters help with security

Chicken Coop Security Barriers

Roosters can be a valuable security alert system, too. They warn the hens to run to a safe location.

Roosters will fight a predator, allowing the hens to get to safety. We currently have two flocks and each flock has one rooster. Our silkie cross rooster, (not shown) Mr. Tweet, fought the fox during the big attack, probably giving many hens a chance to escape. 

Dogs are also a good security barrier. 

Chief and Jackson do a wonderful job keeping predators away but they are not always at the barn area.

I should state that nothing is entirely predator proof. We all do the best we can to provide a safe secure environment and still meet the chickens, ducks, or other animal’s need to forage. There is nothing that is 100%. If you have a bad experience with predators, it will be hard. Learn all you can from the tragedy, and make the changes that you can to make your coops and animal pens more secure. Knowing what you are dealing with, the habits and inclinations of the predator and taking steps to lesson the predator’s success is all we can do. 

If you are not sure what threats are out there for your backyard livestock, check with your local extension service. 


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I writes about many homestead and livestock related topics on the blog Timber Creek Farm. My new book, Chickens From Scratch, is available now through the Timber Creek Farm website or from   

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