Chicken Hardware Cloth vs Chicken Wire
There is a huge difference between Chicken Hardware Cloth and Chicken Wire…I learned the hard way and am writing this so you don’t have to make the same mistake. Here is my story:
It was about one week into our chicken farming journey. My wife and I closed up our new coop shortly after dark, had dinner, and went to bed. At about 2AM there was a huge commotion outside. We quickly got dressed and rushed outside to our coop to see what was going on. By the time we unlocked the door latch and stepped inside the coop, it was already too late – blood and feathers were everywhere.
We saw two raccoons fleeing (that is all we saw running away but there could have been others). They had made it inside our coop and killed 6 of our hens. The cause: cheap chicken wire used on the coop vents. The raccoons easily pulled it apart at one of the corner seams and fit right through the vent. The vents were towards the top of the chicken coop (we had a nice overhanging roof so they were protected from the rain), but they used the attached run as a ladder to climb up and access one of them. In hindsight, I blame myself for not seeing this vulnerability beforehand. Needless to say, it was a rough night…one that my wife and I never want to go through again!
The hard lesson learned: chicken wire is good at keeping chickens inside their coop/run, but is NOT good at keeping predators out. It is made out of a thin gauge wire, and typically twisted together in a pattern that forms hex shapes or circles. The pros of chicken wire are that it is cheaper than hardware cloth, easier to work with, and lighter (makes moving the structure easier). Here are a few examples of what chicken wire looks like:
Protecting your flock from predators is one of the most important things you need to address, and unfortunately chicken wire falls short in this department. That is why you should always use Hardware Cloth. Although it is more expensive and a bit more difficult to work with, it will provide superior protection from predators and pests infiltrating your chicken coop and/or chicken run. Hardware Cloth is made out of wire that is much thicker and is usually welded, making it far stronger than chicken wire.
It comes in different gauges – the lower the gauge, the thicker the wire (ie 19 gauge will be thicker than 23 gauge). You can also get different sized openings (which are typically square) ranging from 1/4 inches to 2 inches. Lastly, you’ll find many are galvanized, which makes them virtually rust-proof. The right gauge/hole size combination that is best for you really depends on the types of predators in your area. Personally, after going through what we did, I always suggest using 19 gauge galvanized wire with 1/4 inch holes. Make sure you wear gloves when installing because the ends can be sharp! Here is what Hardware Cloth looks like:
To finish my story with a happy ending – the next morning I went straight to our local tool/hardware shop, bought all new Hardware Cloth and installed it right away. We went to our local feed store and got 8 new chicks (mixed breed, 3 of which were bantams). Thanks to the new Hardware Cloth, they all grew up safely and the entire flock is healthy and happy!