What Chicken Wire Is Best For A Coop?

What Chicken Wire Is Best For A Coop?

Deciding what chicken wire you’ll put on your coop is a pretty important part of backyard chicken ownership.

 

While we see our fluffy butts as cute feathered pets, the sad truth is the rest of the animal kingdom sees your chickens as dinner.

 

So, we have to take steps to protect our hens, and that means choosing chicken wire that’ll keep predators OUT and your flock IN.

 

There are lots of different types of chicken wire, and in this article, we’ll discuss:

  • ½ inch & 1 inch chicken wire
  • ½ inch hardware cloth for backyard chickens
  • ¼ inch hardware cloth
  • Screens

 

And the advantages and disadvantages of each. We’ll also talk about poultry netting versus wire, and plastic versus metal and coated metal.

 

The type of chicken wire you’ll use on your coop depends on a few factors, including:

 

  • Your budget
  • Predators in your area
  • The age of your chickens
  • Aesthetics (yes, this is important!)

 

So, get ready for an in depth look at each type of chicken wire out there!

 

What length and width chicken wire should you buy?

The answer to this question will vary from situation to situation. We discuss specific hole sizes below, but it’s also important to consider the length and width of the chicken wire you buy.

 

For example, we’re redoing the fencing on my coop right now. The posts are 4 feet away from each other.

 

We’ve purchased 1-inch chicken wire that’s 48” wide and 150’ long to ensure we have enough to make panels for the entire run. If your fence posts are closer together,  or wider apart, then you’ll have to consider that spacing before deciding on which chicken wire will work for your coop.

 

While we usually install fencing horizontally, in the case of chicken wire and chicken coops, it’s best to install the wire itself vertically.

 

You want your chicken run to be tall enough to keep your flock in, and you don’t want any gaps between the wire that predators can get through.

 

When installed horizontally, a 48” tall fence will require a second layer so the fence is tall enough. Avoid this scenario!

 

Chicken wire ½ inch – 1 inch

When you think of chicken wire, you probably think of the wire fencing with hexagonal openings. This is traditional chicken wire, and it has advantages and disadvantages.

 

What Chicken Wire Is Best For A Coop

 

While it comes in various sizes, for chickens, the ½ inch or 1 inch variety are best. Chickens, especially young ones or smaller bantam varieties, such as cochins, silkies, ameraucana bantams, or brahma chicks, might be able to fit through larger holes, or predators might be able to get through.

 

Also, pests such as rats might fit through larger holes.

 

Half and one inch chicken wire is easy to cut (an important consideration) and install – you can use staples or screws with washers to attach it to fence posts.

 

However, you should remember that this type of chicken wire is thin and easily pulled apart by predators. In our area, we don’t have a lot of carnivores trying to kill our hens, so it works well for us.

 

But for readers who live near bears, or have very aggressive neighborhood dogs, or who have wily raccoons, this type of wire can lead to some sad situations.

 

Another consideration, especially if you have chicks, is they can become tangled in chicken wire, and get a wing caught.

 

I’ve dealt with this situations a few times – we’ve had to unwind the chick from the wire to set it free. Don’t ask me how they manage to get stuck – chickens be chickens!

 

But yes, this can happen – so it’s something to think about.

 

That being said, this type of chicken wire is relatively inexpensive, and is easily found in longer rolls at big box stores.

 

Hardware cloth ½ & ¼ inch

Hardware cloth is usually what experienced backyard chicken owners use when building their coops.

 

It’s very sturdy and, when installed correctly, is harder for predators and neighborhood dogs to rip through. It also doesn’t stretch out of shape like chicken wire, so predators can’t maneuver through it as easily.

 

You can buy hardware cloth with larger openings, but typically, the half and ¼ inch sizes are best.

 

These sizes are impossible for backyard chickens to fit through – so they’ll remain in your coop – and most predators can’t fit their fingers/paws through the holes.

 

Raccoons in particular like reaching through chicken wire to grab a free meal. Hardware cloth makes it harder for them to grab a pullet’s leg and rip her apart.

 

It’s also harder for predators to get a grip on the wire and rip it off.

 

Hardware cloth also looks better aesthetically than the other options on this list, although it can be pretty expensive, especially if you need wider pieces or you have a large run for your backyard chickens.

 

What Chicken Wire Is Best For A Coop

Metal – Coated vs. Uncoated

You might notice that chicken wire comes in 2 different varieties (other than size) – coated and uncoated.

 

Coated chicken wire just contains an extra layer of plastic on the outside. It’s typically green, but I’ve seen it in other colors as well.

 

While coated chicken wire certainly isn’t necessary, it can look better and, if your chicks get stuck between holes, it can make it easier to free them and less painful for the chicken.

 

It’s also a little easier to install because you won’t have to grab thin wire for the entire installation.

 

It tends to be a bit more expensive, so your budget will dictate whether coated or uncoated chicken wire is for you.

 

Screens

Another unconventional option are screens – yep, the same screens you probably have on the windows in your house!

 

This is a great option if BUGS are a big issue in your area. Nothing is worse than a fly or gnat infestation – and they CAN harm your flock!

 

Screens are typically made of wire, and they’re pretty easy to install, although fixing them (should they get torn) is a bit of a pain in the butt.

 

If your chickens are active and like to bicker, or if you have other pets such as cats, you might find screens don’t last very long and you’ll be replacing them pretty frequently.

 

They also won’t stand up to most predators – so if your neighbors dogs like to make a meal out of your flock, then screens are best avoided.

 

They also tend to be a bit expensive, so it’s important to compare the costs to the other chicken wire options in this article.

 

Poultry netting

Another option available is poultry netting, which is plastic fencing that looks like hardware cloth, but is made of plastic.

 

This type of chicken wire is good for keeping your hens out of your garden, but provides little protection against a predator, since its easily ripped off.

 

It can also look pretty ugly – especially if you get orange poultry netting! It’s best to stick to traditional chicken wire or hardware cloth.

 

Hopefully this article gives you some ideas about which chicken wire is best for a coop. There’s plenty of options, and your choice will be specific to your own situation!




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Hot Chicken Coop? Add Windows With This DIY Tutorial!

Hot Chicken Coop? Add Windows With This DIY Tutorial!

Adding a window to your chicken coop is easy – as long as you have a plan.

 

While the coop we bought for our hens is largely perfect, when the summer time heat hit, it got just a little bit too stuffy in there for my comfort.

 

Backyard chickens don’t sweat like humans do – so they feel heat more and chickens have a hard time cooling down.

 

It’s very important your coop has great ventilation and air flow so your hens don’t develop respiratory issues and suffer heat stroke – so we decided to add a few windows to our chicken coop to reduce the heat inside AND increase the airflow.

 

Before we get started, know that there’s a LOT of decisions to make before you start cutting a hole in the wall of your coop…..practical AND style decisions.

 

And since you’ll be looking at your coop for a LONG time, both of these types of decisions are equally important.

 

For those who can’t wait to discover what window we chose, we opted for a $30, pre-fab, single hung windows with screens. You’ll learn why as you read the article.

 

Backyard chicken coop window tutorial

 

You should choose the type of window that works best for your own situation, however.

 

Here’s how we did it, and how you can add a window to your chicken coop yourself.

 

Tools needed:

  • Sawzaw or other way to cut a hole in your coop wall
  • Window & manufacturer’s window installation kit
  • Molding or wood to frame the window
  • Broom to sweep up wood shavings and dust
  • Measuring tape
  • Ear plugs (yes, these are important – you don’t want ringing ears!)
  • 1-inch drill bit & drill
  • Electric screwdriver
  • A carpenter’s pencil or a marker

 

Step 1: Decide Where To Put The Window

This is critical – once you cut a hole in your coop wall, it’s permanent, so keep the following questions in mind before adding the window.

 

Where does the wind blow?

The goal is to create air flow – so you want to make sure you stand a good chance by putting the window where there tends to be a lot of airflow already.

 

Don’t make this decision lightly – you need to keep airflow from all seasons in mind.

 

On our farm, we have a lot of wind from the North, so it seems it would be best to place the window on the North side of the coop.

 

But in the winter, the North wind come from Canada, and it’s cold and bitter. So, the North side isn’t the best place.

 

The coop already has a window to the South, so we decided on an East/West location for the windows. We get a good West wind, and during the winter, it’s not as bitter as the North wind.

 

Are you adding more than one window?

Not every coop needs multiple windows. Ours does, so we decided to add 2 windows.

 

But going back to airflow….

 

You might need more than one window if your coop is very hot and stuffy over the summer, or if you want a lot of light in your coop and live in a cooler area, so make this decision before deciding on the final placement of your chicken coop window.

 

Is there a spot that tends to get super wet with rain (avoid this spot)?

An open window is an invitation for wet weather to seep into your coop. If you have a particular spot that’s more likely to bring water into the coop, this might not be the best place to add a window.

 

For example, we rarely have East winds – so we know we’re less likely to have our coop soaked during a sudden rainstorm with a window that faces the East.

 

This is key to reduce moisture in your coop and keep your chickens healthy.

 

What height should you put it at to avoid predators?

If chicken predators plague your area, you want the window to be high enough that they can’t just jump into your coop or rip open any screens.

 

In our area, we don’t have much trouble with predators. However, we still make sure the window is several feet off the ground.

 

Backyard chicken coop window

The goat had to inspect our work

Where does the window look the most attractive?

Really, this IS important, so don’t gloss over this because it seems frivolous.

 

You’ll be looking at this new window for a long time – choose a spot on the chicken coop wall that looks “right” and not funky.

 

The last thing you want is to regret the placing decision and spend the next 20 years kicking yourself.

 

Do you need to move any structural beams or add bracing?

Go inside your chicken coop and look at the overall structure. To install the window, will you need to move any beams and will you need to brace the walls around the window?

 

For our coop, the interior 2×4 beams were largely for looks – they didn’t really support the walls at all. So, we were free to remove them as needed.

 

However, your coop might not be structured the same way, and you might need to brace a wall in order to keep your flock’s home structurally sound.

 

Adding bracing is pretty easy. We had to do it in our farm house when we installed French doors, but it’s important to know whether you have to do it – so you don’t walk out one morning to a crumpled heap of wood.

 

So, take these decisions into consideration when deciding where to place the window in your chicken coop.

 

Do you plan to buy a pre-fab window or build one yourself (or simply cut a hole in the wall??)

Ask yourself whether you plan to DIY the window (which brings up another host of questions) or if you’ll buy a window and kit and just install it yourself.

 

We opted to buy windows – they cost about $30 each and look better than just a hole in the wall.

 

Step 2: Will the window close?

Ask yourself whether you plan to close the window at any point. This is also an important decision.

 

In the past, we simply cut holes in the wall, slapped some hardware cloth in it, and left it at that.

 

Then winter rolled around, and we regretted being so cavalier – because we then had to cover the chicken coop window with really ugly tin.

 

In some areas (such as areas with little rainfall and high temperatures), a window that closes isn’t as important.

 

So, you need to consider your local climate.

 

But if you plan to close the window during bad weather, you’ll need to buy or make a window that has the ability to close.

 

Do you plan to use hardware cloth or a screen?

The purpose of a window is to create airflow, but you also don’t want your flock to escape through the window.

 

So, you’ll need some sort of covering for the big gaping hole you’re about to create. We wanted to keep bugs out of the coop as much as possible, so we opted for a prefab window that had a screen.

 

If you live in an area with a lot of predators, a screen might not be the best option. In fact, if you live in an area with bears, you might want to consider safety bars.

 

If raccoons or opossums are an issue in your area, then ¼ inch hardware cloth might be a better option. For areas with aggressive neighborhood dogs, ½ inch hardware cloth will work well.

 

We don’t have a lot of predators, and certainly no bears, but we do have a LOT of flies in our chicken coop……so we went with a screen that gave us a bit of bug control.

 

Before cutting, ask yourself whether you’ll use hardware cloth or a screen.

 

Single hung or double hung?

This is kind of a minor decision, but ask yourself whether you want a single or double hung window to grace the wall of your chicken coop.

 

Single hung windows are cheaper, so we went with that.

 

Step 3: Cut A Hole In The Wall The Size Of The Window

Now it’s time to actually install the window. First, keep your chickens out of the coop if possible – they will be disturbed by the loud noise and wood particles in the air.

 

Let your hens free range and enjoy some time outside hunting bugs while you improve their home.

 

Next, make sure you don’t need to move any structural beams.

 

Measure the size of your window, and measure the wall – if any beams are in the way, they’ll need to be moved or you’ll need to find a new spot. Don’t start cutting until you’ve figured this out.

 

Backyard chicken coop window measuring

 

If you’re using a prefab window, consult the window installation kit and instructions before cutting.

 

Remember, you can’t do this twice, so measure twice, cut once!

 

To cut the hole in the wall, we started by tracing an outline of the window on the wall, and then used a drill to create a hole large enough for the sawsaw to fit through.

 

Using the tracing as a guide, we cut a hole the length and width of the window. Easy!

 

Backyard chicken coop window opening

Step 4: Following The Instruction With Your Window Kit, Install The Window

Installing the window was easy – most of the work is making all those pre-installation decisions!

 

Using the manufacturer screws, we easily affixed the window to the chicken coop wall.

 

If you’re using hardware cloth, add it inside the coop. You can use small hardware staples or screws with washers to keep it in place.

 

For extra security from predators, you can also add a wood frame over the hardware cloth to make it even harder to remove.

Backyard chicken coop window installation complete

Step 5: Finish Off The Installation By Framing Your New Chicken Coop Window

You can leave the window as is, or frame it to complete the look. I highly recommend framing it – it’ll keep the window looking nicer for longer, and cover up any mistakes (and we made plenty!).

 

You can also add shutters or a window box for an additional cute finishing touch to your new chicken coop window, like we did with this window:

 

Backyard chicken coop window installation tutorial