You Need Hardware Cloth for Your Chicken Coop

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.

Why?

Let’s dig into the differences between hardware cloth and chicken wire, and when each of the two can come in handy.

Chicken Wire

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.

Hardware Cloth

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

6 Things To Know Before Getting Chickens

Getting your first flock of chickens is an exciting adventure. Visions of bountiful egg harvests, peeping baby chicks, and coops full of clucking hens occupy your dreams.

But we’re here to tell you, there’s a few things we wish we had known before we brought chickens into our lives. 

And the good news is, we’re sharing all the dirty details with you so you can be prepared for these otherwise unexpected issues when you start your first flock.

Let’s dig in and get you ready for your chickens!

1. Predator Prevention is Non-negotiable

There’s nothing worse than coming across deceased chickens during morning chores. 

That’s why it’s important to take a preemptive approach to predators in your region.

And when we say predators, we don’t just mean the big ones (like bears of foxes).

Some of the smallest predators are the most deadly.

Snakes, raccoons, and weasels can find their way into even the most predator-proof coops.

So when you’re designing your first chicken coop, always take extra precautions to ensure you’re not leaving your chickens exposed to predators, like making sure every opening in the coop and run is covered in hardware cloth (not chicken wire – it’s not strong enough). Be sure that predators cannot dig under fencing to access your chickens, or fly into your run from above (they will definitely try).

2. You Need a Plan for Roosters

Even if you’ve planned to order all hens, there may come a time that a stray roo gets into the shipping container from the hatchery. No hatchery can guarantee pullets (hens under one year old) with more than 90% accuracy, so it’s best to assume 10% will turn out to be roosters.

On the other hand, if you’ve decided to incubate, prepare for the possibility of more than one rooster in your new little clutch of chicks.

If you’ve got the room and enough hens to go around, you might be able to keep some of those roosters.

With that being said, you’ll need a plan ahead of time for the roosters you won’t be keeping. 

Because more than one rooster means you’ll need more hens for each one, and it also means there’ll be more crowing, more fighting, and maybe even more aggression.

So, what will you do with unneeded roosters?

Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Sell them as chicks as soon as you know they’re roosters to someone who wants to raise them
  2. Raise them and butcher them for yourself
  3. Raise them and process them for sale (check local regulations)
  4. Give them away to a family in need

3. Chickens Don’t Lay Eggs Until They’re Mature

Unfortunately, chickens don’t start to lay eggs until they are a few months old. And depending on the breed you’ve selected, it may even take months to see your first farm fresh egg. 

So it’s a bit of a waiting game, but we’ll tell ya right now when that first egg appears, you’ll be celebrating all the way to the breakfast table!

While you wait for your first eggs, you can spend your free time ensuring your chickens have everything they need to lay quality eggs as soon as they’re ready. 

That includes:

  • Endless amounts of fresh water
  • Oodles of layer feed (formulated for layers)
  • Grit (to help chickens digest their food)
  • Treats (protein treats pack a punch for chickens when they’re growing!)
  • Calcium (this helps chickens lay eggs with strong shells, and it promotes strong and healthy bones)

And if your chickens are happy and healthy, they’ll start laying eggs as soon as they’re old enough, without delay.

4. Chickens Need Plenty of Elbow Room

It’s true! And if your run isn’t large enough to allow all your chickens to hunt, peck, and scratch the earth freely, you’ll soon learn that your beautiful run will turn into a large mud pit. 

So if you’re not free-ranging your chooks, make sure your enclosure is plenty big; it’s just the polite thing to do. 

In general, you’ll need to allow for about 5 to 10 square feet per bird outdoors. 

5. Chickens are Also Predators

Ok, not like the-top-of-the-food-chain predators, but predators to things like mice, frogs, and bugs. 

Never forget that chickens are omnivores and enjoy eating meat. So the next time you see your fluffy butts running across the lawn with a frog in the lead hen’s beak, just know that it’s completely normal and good for them. 

On another note, chickens are predators to your landscaping efforts. 

Nope, your chickens have no idea that your flower garden is not an a la carte buffet created just for them. 

If you want to protect your landscaping from free-ranging beaks, then create barriers to keep your flock from ruining your flower beds…and veggie gardens, for that matter. 

6. The Companionship and Connection

Some will tell you that chickens aren’t pets. And that might be true for the vast majority of them. But from time-to-time, you’ll come across a hen, or rooster, that plucks at your heartstrings. 

Chickens can be friendly; they may even cuddle with you on the porch as you drink your morning coffee in the sun. 

And before you know it, you’ve got a friend or two in the flock. 

The truth is, you’ll see personalities emerge, and you may catch yourself naming your chickens (if we’re being honest, all of the fluffy butts in the Henny+Roo flock have names). 

We’re not ashamed, and that’s one of the reasons we knew we needed to create the Henny + Roo subscription box for chickens (and chicken lovers)!

Dogs and cats aren’t the only companions who deserve a treat for all their hard work (Ummm, egg-making, friendship, and let’s be honest a little bit of pest control too).


So, just know, that your chickens may turn into an extension of your family, and as far as we’re concerned, that’s perfectly fine for everyone involved.