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Coop Security: Chicken Wire vs Hardware Cloth

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When it comes to security, we only want to best for our chickens. But, there are so many options that it can be hard to understand where to use what. Between chicken wire and hardware cloth, there are places and uses for both of them. Today, we are going to talk about chicken coop security: chicken wire vs chicken hardware cloth. By the end of this article, you’ll know everything there is to know about the two.

What Is Chicken Wire?

When anyone thinks about chicken coops or runs, everyone automatically thinks about the chicken wire. Chicken wire comes in large rolls of pliable wire that has a distinct hexagon shape. This shape is formed by twisting and weaving the metal together. Chicken wire is a galvanized thin metal that is great because it is easily manipulated. But, what are the pros and cons of using chicken wire?

Pros Of Chicken Wire

  1. You can find chicken wire for cheaper than any other type of fencing. You can also get it in bigger rolls than hardware cloth so that there are no gaps in coverage.
  2. Chicken wire is available everywhere. You can find it at hardware stores and feed stores across America. And in a pinch, you can even find it at most Wal-Marts.
  3. The fantastic thing about chicken wire is that you can form it in any way you want. If you have a run that is not a traditional rectangle, you can bend chicken wire effortlessly. It can even be manipulated into circles to protect flowers from being eaten by your chickens.
  4. The wire can provide some protection for areas that don’t have a problem with raccoons or foxes.
  5. There are different sizes available, but more on that later.

Cons Of Chicken Wire

  1. Chicken wire is notorious for rusting, and rusted wire is weak.
  2. Chicken wire is also easily broken or knocked down.
  3. Because of how easily broken it is, it is not predator-proof. Most animals can get inside chicken wire if they really wanted to.
  4. The wire also has larger openings that rats and mice can easily fit through. And if they can fit through, that means snakes can as well.
  5. And unfortunately, there have been some accidents with wire. Smaller chickens are known to get their heads and feet stuck in the fence, which can injury or death.

What Is Hardware Cloth?

Hardware cloth is used similarly as chicken wire. But, the main difference is that hardware cloth is thicker and made from more durable materials. Instead of being twisted, it’s woven together, and often it is welding to keep its shape. You can still bend and form hardware cloth in the way you wish, but it takes a little more force. So what are the pros and cons?

Pros Of Hardware Cloth

  1. The hardware cloth’s most significant pro is that it is more durable than wire. It can withstand more and lasts longer because of it.
  2. Most cloth has a PVC coating, which makes it resistant to rust. No rust means that the hardware cloth will stay strong.
  3. It also provides the most protection for your flock. If installed correctly, no predators or rodents can get into hardware cloth.
  4. It is safer for your chickens since they can’t easily get caught in it.
  5. Hardware cloth also comes in different gauges for more protection. We will dive into this a little more below.
  6. Found in most feed stores and hardware stores.

Cons Of Hardware Cloth

  1. The cloth is more expensive than chicken wire, but it makes up for that cost by how long it lasts.

Are There Different Types Of Each?

Now when comparing chicken coop security: chicken wire vs chicken hardware cloth, we need a few definitions. There are many types of wire and hardware cloth on the market, but not all are for raising chickens. So when comparing hardware cloth vs chicken wire, we need to be clear about what types of materials we are talking about.

Chicken Wire

The most common chicken wire that we use is a galvanized steel with either 1/2, 1, or 2-inch openings. This wire can range in gauge from 19-22. What does gauging mean? The gauge of wire has to do with strength and thickness. A cable with a lower gauge indicates that it is thicker and more resistant. Higher gauges mean that the fence is thin and pliable.

All in all, chicken wire is the same from pretty much everywhere you go. Some are made from different metals, and some have a protective coating to prevent rusting. But these are usually more expensive and don’t have any different pros and cons than regular wire. For this article, we will discuss the most common wire, 18, or 20 gauge wire that has a half-inch opening.

Hardware Cloth

When it comes to hardware cloth, there are lots of different kinds. Some are made from galvanized steel, carbon, or stainless steel. All of these are resistant to rust and make great choices for a chicken coop. But, when it comes to the gauge of wire used, that’s where there are endless possibilities. What gauge hardware cloth for chicken coops? The most commonly used gauge is either 14 or 12 hardware cloth for chickens. 14 gauge wire is the minimum you should look for because no animal can chew their way through it. Anything higher, and you could lose chickens to raccoons or foxes. 

Hardware cloth also comes in several sizes of the weave. What size hardware cloth for a chicken coop? You will want at least 1/2 inch openings, but 1/4 inch is more protective and durable. 

Where To Use Hardware Cloth vs Chicken Wire

Next in our chicken coop security: chicken wire vs chicken hardware cloth is where to use them. You would think that since they are meant to protect your chickens, you can use them interchangeably. But that is where you are wrong. Let’s look a little closer at where to include these two into your coop plans. 

Where To Use Chicken Wire

Chicken wire is not a suitable material for use in chicken coops. It isn’t very protective, and any animal can get in or out of it whenever they please. The best place to use chicken wire is to cover the daytime run in it. If you keep your chickens close and they are only out when you are home, chicken wire is perfectly safe for their runs. Some owners might like to use it as a roof only, and some wrap the entire area in it. As long as they aren’t alone, there is no harm in going a cheaper route. 

Another excellent use for chicken wire is to protect your plants from free-roaming chickens. You could keep your hens from nibbling on your favorite plants or the vegetables in your garden with wire safely. But other than this, there aren’t many used for it. 

Where To Use Hardware Cloth

You can use hardware cloth over everything in your coop and run to protect your chickens from predators. This is excellent news for people who live in areas with lots of predators. If you might have thought that keeping chickens safe from wildlife or stray animals was impossible, let us show you how it’s possible. 

While using hardware cloth for the chicken run can get expensive, it is possible. Many people who work prefer to have the safety of 1/4 inch hardware cloth over chicken wire any day. They won’t have to worry about predators chewing through or pushing the sides in for easy access. And you will never have to worry about accidents with your chickens getting hurt on the wire. 

You can also use hardware cloth to predator-proof your coop. By covering all vents and windows with hardware cloth, you can still have the breeze without compromising your chickens’ safety. You can even use hardware cloth for the chicken coop floor when buried properly from keeping animals from digging into your coop. 

Another great trick is to bury hardware cloth around the chicken coop’s parameter and run to keep animals from digging into it. Animals will try to find weak spots by digging under to get inside. But when they try to dig and run into the hardware cloth, it feels terrible on their nails, so they give up. They might attempt in a few other places but with soon realize that it’s not possible. 

For some people who have small gaps in their coops, hardware cloth is the perfect fix. There’s no need to go out and buy new materials. Just fasten some hardware cloth to the gap, and it’s completely safe again. 

Which Is Better?

When it comes to chicken coop security: chicken wire vs chicken hardware cloth, hardware cloth wins by a landslide. There are barely any cons to having it. But we do believe that everyone raising backyard chickens should have some of both on hand at all times. You never know when you might need some of each. And since both have their place in the coop, it doesn’t hurt to get it. 

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!

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