Chicken Wire vs. Hardware Cloth for Chicken Coop Security

Several chickens behind hexagonal chicken wire

When building a chicken coop, choosing between chicken wire and hardware cloth is a big decision. Each option has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, which can impact your chickens’ safety and happiness.

Chicken wire is often the go-to for its affordability and ease of use. However, for predator protection, hardware cloth steps up as the stronger contender. But what else should you consider before making your decision?

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each material, helping you make an informed decision for your coop’s security. So, read on and discover which option is the best fit for your flock.

Hardware Cloth vs. Chicken Wire: What’s the Difference?

Chickens behind a hardware cloth at sunset

Hardware cloth is made from galvanized welded steel wires, offering superior strength and durability. It’s great for heavy-duty needs where security is key. In contrast, chicken wire is made from thinner, twisted wires. It’s lighter and more flexible, making it more suited for basic containment.

Here’s a more detailed comparison between the two:

  • Material Strength and Durability: Hardware cloth’s thicker wire means it’s less likely to tear or degrade over time, unlike the thinner chicken wire, which is more prone to damage from predators and the elements.
  • Mesh Size and Shape: Both materials come in various mesh sizes, from 1/8 inch to 4 inches. However, the main difference lies in their mesh shapes. Hardware cloth typically features square or rectangular openings, while chicken wire features hexagonal ones.
  • Application and Purpose: Hardware cloth is designed to keep predators out with its solid construction, while chicken wire is better suited for simply containing chickens due to its less durable design.
  • Longevity: Galvanized hardware cloth can last up to decades or more, offering a better long-term security solution. Chicken wire may need replacing sooner as it’s more prone to environmental and physical damage.
  • Cost Comparison: Hardware cloth is about 4 to 5 times more expensive than chicken wire upfront, but its durability and effectiveness can make it a smart long-term investment. Chicken wire, while cheaper initially, may lead to higher costs over time due to the need for more frequent replacements.

Overall, choosing between hardware cloth and chicken wire depends on your specific needs.

For those prioritizing chicken coop security against predators, hardware cloth is the better choice, thanks to its strength, durability, and longevity. But if you just need to keep things in place, chicken wire will do the job.

Chicken Wire for Chicken Coop

Chicken looking through blue chicken wire

Chicken wire is a go-to for many when building chicken coops due to its affordability and versatility.

It’s pretty handy for keeping chickens in place, but it’s important to weigh both its pros and cons to make sure it’s the right choice for your coop.

Pros

  • Chicken wire is lightweight and easy to handle, making installation a breeze.
  • You can find chicken wire just about anywhere, from your local hardware store to garden centers.
  • Compared to other fencing options, chicken wire is cheaper, making it a budget-friendly choice.
  • Chicken wire can be easily cut and shaped to fit various coop designs, offering flexibility in construction.

Cons

  • Chicken wire is not as sturdy as some other fencing materials and may need replacing more frequently due to wear and tear or damage.
  • It’s not the best at keeping out determined predators like raccoons, possums, foxes, or smaller ones like snakes.
  • Chicken wire is prone to rust over time when exposed to moisture, especially if it is not galvanized, reducing its longevity.
  • Chicken wire is flimsy and can break easily, posing a risk of eye injuries, wounds, and scratches to chickens.

Hardware Cloth for Chicken Coop

Chicken seen through hardware cloth

When considering the security of your chicken coop, hardware cloth is often the preferred option due to its robust protection and durability.

While it’s often considered superior to chicken wire in many aspects, it also comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks to consider.

Pros

  • Hardware cloth is made from a stronger, more durable wire than chicken wire.
  • It offers unmatched protection for your chickens, effectively making your coop predator-proof when installed correctly.
  • It’s typically made of galvanized steel with a PVC coating, which makes it waterproof and resistant to rust and corrosion.
  • Hardware cloth is known for its longevity and requires less maintenance compared to chicken wire, saving time and effort in the long run.

Cons

  • Hardware cloth is significantly more expensive than chicken wire, which may impact budget considerations for your coop construction.
  • Hardware cloth is heavier than chicken wire, so installing it can be more difficult and labor-intensive.
  • Because hardware cloth is strong and durable, cutting it can be challenging and may require the use of special tools like wire cutters.

Pro Tip: Cutting hardware cloth can be tough on your hands. For quicker and more precise cuts, consider using power shears.

Just remember to wear protective gear, especially for your eyes, as bits of metal can fly off during cutting.

Why You Should Consider Hardware Cloth

When it comes to securing your chicken coop, hardware cloth is a choice you’ll want to seriously consider, especially if you’re concerned about predator threats in your area.

Unlike chicken wire, which is designed to keep chickens in, hardware cloth is made to keep predators out. Its fine, durable mesh is tough enough to resist chewing or tearing by animals such as raccoons, foxes, and even cats.

What’s more, most types of hardware cloth come with a PVC coating, which not only strengthens its resistance against rust and corrosion but also adds to its durability.

During my early days of chicken keeping, I learned a hard lesson after losing a few chickens to coyotes. That’s when I decided to upgrade my coop with hardware cloth, and it was a game-changer.

Not only did it stop any further attacks, but it also held up incredibly well against the weather, showing no signs of rust or wear even years later.

While it’s true that hardware cloth comes with a higher price tag compared to chicken wire, the investment pays off in the long run.

Hardware Cloth Installation Tips

Chicken close up behind hardware cloth

Installing hardware cloth on your chicken coop is a crucial step in protecting your chickens from predators. Here are some tips to ensure that your installation is effective and secure:

  • Measure carefully: Before purchasing hardware cloth, measure the areas you need to cover. This includes the coop’s sides, bottom, and any windows or vents. Buying a bit extra is wise to account for any overlap and adjustments.
  • Choose the right mesh size and gauge: For the mesh size, a 1/2 inch mesh is generally recommended to keep out smaller predators such as snakes and rats. Equally important is the gauge of the wire. You want something sturdy, so going with a wire gauge of 19 or thicker is a good idea. This makes sure the cloth can handle the weight of your chickens and any predators that might try to break in.
  • Secure with washers and screws: Attach the hardware cloth to your coop using screws and washers. The washers spread out the pressure and keep the cloth from tearing. Place the screws about 6 inches apart for a tight, secure fit.
  • Overlap sheets: If you’re working with multiple sheets of hardware cloth, make sure to overlap them by a few inches to eliminate any potential gaps. Use heavy-duty zip ties or hog rings to hold the pieces together.
  • Cover sharp edges: To prevent injury to your chickens and to add an extra layer of security, cover the sharp edges of the hardware cloth with wood trim or a similar protective material. This also gives your coop a cleaner, more finished look.
  • Check regularly: Every now and then, check the hardware cloth for any signs of wear, rust, or damage. Fix or replace any bad spots right away to keep your coop secure.

By following these installation tips, you can significantly improve the safety of your chicken coop against predators.

Now, if you’re looking for a more hands-on visual guide, check out this video on how to install hardware cloth to predator-proof your chicken coop:

Chicken Run Build Part 4: Installing Hardware Cloth Predator Proof Run

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Hardware Cloth Stronger Than Chicken Wire?

Yes, hardware cloth is stronger than chicken wire. It’s made with a thicker gauge wire, which makes it more durable and less prone to tearing.

This makes hardware cloth a better choice for protecting chickens from predators, as it offers a sturdier barrier.

How Deep Should I Bury Hardware Cloth for Chicken Coop?

For maximum protection against digging predators, burying hardware cloth at least 12 inches deep around your chicken coop is essential.

This depth makes it very tough for critters like raccoons, foxes, and coyotes to get under it and into your chicken area.

Can Raccoons Tear Through Hardware Cloth?

Raccoons generally can’t tear through hardware cloth, especially when it’s made of a sturdy gauge like 19 or thicker.

This material is much stronger and more secure than chicken wire, making it a reliable barrier against these clever predators.

Will Chickens Fly Over a Chicken Wire?

Chickens, especially smaller breeds, can indeed fly over chicken wire. While the mesh may deter some birds, determined chickens may find a way to fly over a four-foot fence.

To keep them contained, you may need to consider adding a taller fence or additional measures like wing clipping.

Will Chickens Walk on Wire Mesh?

Chickens can walk on wire mesh, but it’s not the best for their feet. While strong wire mesh floors can keep predators out and allow chickens to eat bugs, walking on wire mesh can hurt their feet.

These birds prefer surfaces where they can scratch and move easily. To prevent foot injuries, it’s recommended to provide a solid flooring surface for them to walk on, such as wood, plastic, or sand.


So, which will it be for your coop: the traditional chicken wire or the sturdy hardware cloth? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below; we’d love to hear from you!

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