How To Choose The Best Chicken Wire
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How To Choose The Best Chicken Wire
Once you decide to build your own chicken coop, the choice of which chicken wire and hardware cloth to use is one of the most important decisions you will make. Using the right chicken wire or cloth from the very beginning, and knowing the difference between the two, will save you many headaches in the future. It will ensure that all your chickens remain healthy and safe from predators.
For safety and durability, we recommend using stainless steel wire or cloth. The reason for this is that stainless steel does not absorb water. This makes it difficult for bacteria to grow, which will help ensure your chicks remain healthy. The other reason is that you simply cannot beat stainless steel for durability. It will not rust and is ideal for very rugged environments. Of course, stainless steel costs more, but the investment will wind up saving you money in the long run.
Although we recommend stainless steel, you can also safely use galvanized metal for your wire or hardware cloth. This is because, unlike aviary birds, chickens will not peck the wire with their beaks. Galvanized metal simply means that the metal has a layer of zinc to better protect it from the environment.
Predator Deterrence – A Primary Consideration
As a rule of thumb, you should remember that you should use chicken wire to keep your chickens confined to area. On the other hand, hardware cloth is primarily for predator deterrence. Some examples of predators that might try to eat your chickens or get at their eggs include rats, foxes and weasels. So, for maximum predator protection, you can lay the mesh under the entire floor of your chicken coop and run. This will prevent predators from burrowing their way to your chickens and eggs. You can also run the hardware cloth to a depth of about a foot into the ground to prevent predators from getting at your chickens. However, always remember that you should not use the hardware cloth as a chicken coop floor. This is because it is likely to injure your chickens’ feet.
Which Gauge Is Best?
Chicken wire comes in a variety of different gauges. However, you will mostly find gauges of 19, or 1 mm thickness, or 22 gauge, which is .7 mm wire. Here is an example of 22 gauge stainless steel chicken wire from BRB Products:
This chicken wire features 1″ hexagonal holes, which will deter predators such as raccoons, rabbits and gophers. You can also find chicken wire with hexagonal gaps of 1/2″, 1″ and 2″ diameters. However, 1″ gaps tend to be the most popular. This particular chicken wire is not galvanized because stainless steel will not rust. In addition to the 24″ height above, you can also order this wire in a 48″ height.
But Chicken Wire Is Not A Strong Enough Predator Deterrent!
It is true that a determined predator can pull away the wire and get your birds and their eggs. So, for maximum predator protection, think hardware cloth as opposed to chicken wire. This is especially true if your area is home to a large number of coyote, fox and raccoon. If so, use hardware cloth in addition to, or instead of, chicken wire. If your chicken coop is already located within a protected area, such as behind a fence where it is completely safe from predators, only are you safe to use chicken wire only.
You will find hardware cloth with holes of 1/4″ or 1/2″ to be ideal. These are impossible for predators to climb through, and chickens will not get caught in hardware cloth of these sizes. Whether you use wire or hardware cloth, you can easily attach it by using either a staple gun, or screws.
This is an example of high-quality, stainless steel hardware cloth with 1/2″ holes. It’s great because, unlike wire, predators cannot get their paws through the holes and stretch them. Also, animals cannot easily pry this cloth away to get at your chickens. If you are building a coop, you can use this wire to a height of about 3′ off the ground and use wire for the top part.
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