The rustic fencing we’ve come to know and love is called chicken wire for a reason, right?
But names can be deceiving, and just because its been used for chickens for a long time, doesn’t mean chicken wire is the safest option for your chicken coop.
The truth is, if you want to crawl into bed at night knowing your chickens are resting peacefully, and safely, consider using hardware cloth for coop construction.
Let’s dig into the differences between hardware cloth and chicken wire, and when each of the two can come in handy.
The first thing you need to know about chicken wire is that its main purpose is to keep chickens in…and not necessarily to keep predators out.
Its signature hexagonal design (now used in many rustic crafter treasures) is sturdy enough to prevent your chooks from escaping their designated living space but it won’t keep the hungry predators out.
If you’ve ever grabbed ahold of the chicken wire we’ve all come to know and trust, you’d know it’s quite flimsy.
Strong predators can bend and flex chicken wire much too easily. And predators with sneaky paws, or claws, can easily kill a chicken from the outside of the pen and drag it through chicken wire for a feast.
But that’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for chicken wire, in fact, we use it in a variety of ways that won’t put our chickens’ lives in jeopardy.
When to Use Chicken Wire
Chicken wire has its place in the chicken coop. It’s best used in spaces you don’t plan to keep your chooks long-term.
For example, temporary cages, used to transport chickens from place to place, are fine uses for chicken wire.
But if you thought you’d rely on chicken wire for anything permanent, you might wake up to an empty coop someday.
With that being said, if you know your local predators well, and plan the location of your chicken wire strategically, you may be able to get away with using it in certain ways, although it is not recommended for predator protection.
Additionally, chicken wire can serve purposes other than protection from predators.
For example, if you’d like to keep two different breeds of chickens separated within your chicken run, you can use chicken wire to do so.
Have some baby chicks that you’re slowly introducing to the flock? Chicken wire can be a fantastic temporary container for your young birds.
Chicken wire can also be used to keep your chickens out of places they shouldn’t be…like your flower beds or garden.
The takeaway here?
Yes, it’s good for some things.
In truth, it’s been around since the 1800s so it’s definitely a timeless farm tool.
With that being said, chicken wire isn’t the end-all be-all for protecting your chickens.
When planning your chicken coop, one of the first things to think about is deterring your local predators.
Unfortunately, our beloved flocks are at the bottom of the food chain, and while some chickens are savvier than others…there’s always one that’s a bit more aloof and easy pickings for predators.
Hardware cloth is the perfect solution because it is much sturdier than chicken wire.
It can easily be buried along the coop border to prevent sly foxes and stray dogs from digging underneath it.
And it holds up to the weight of some of the stronger predators.
Additionally, hardware cloth is available in welded wire which makes it stronger than woven chicken wire. (although some hardware cloth is available in a woven format as well).
As a bonus, you can find different size “holes” in hardware cloth. So if you’ve got snakes, or weasels, as predators, you can find hardware cloth small enough to keep even the tiniest of predators out of your chicken coop.
While you’ll find that hardware cloth is significantly more pricy than chicken wire, your peace of mind is worth every penny. We have used this hardware cloth, ordered from Amazon, on our chicken run.
When to Use Hardware Cloth with Chickens
Hardware cloth should be used as a protective barrier between your chickens and any area in which predators lurk.
In other words, your hardware cloth is the fortress surrounding your chicken coop.
We also recommend hardware cloth for chicken tractors and for broilers being raised for meat. Especially if your tractors aren’t close to your home where you would otherwise hear distress from birds under attack.
In either situation, you’ll be happy you used the stronger layer of protection rather than something easily broken into, like chicken wire.
If you’re unsure of which type of wire to use with your chickens, we recommend going with welded, hardware cloth over chicken wire.
Our motto here is, better safe than sorry!
Remember, there’s a purpose for both types of wire, but if you want that restful night’s sleep, go with the hardware cloth to prevent losses.
And don’t fret, if you’ve already built your coop, you can slowly start to replace your chicken wire with hardware cloth.
We know you take the safety of your chickens very seriously, so take it one step at a time and start doing a little remodeling. Your chooks won’t mind one bit.
Henny+Roo is the first and foremost subscription box for backyard chickens keepers. Each month, we ship high-quality treats, coop products, wellness items and other supplies for your flock, along with useful gifts for you. Our monthly boxes and non-subscription products make wonderful gifts for the chicken keeper in your life, even if that’s you! Check us out at: hennyandroo.com
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