Chicken Wire or Hardware Cloth for Coops

If it’s called chicken wire, it must be for chickens, right?

chicken wire

There are certain topics that veteran chicken owners are all too familiar with.  But, what about those who are new to raising poultry?  I often will cover a topic that may seem mundane and too basic but  I believe there is a substantial number of people who are looking for the very basic information to help them get started raising chickens.  Knowing when to use chicken wire is one of these areas. 

Chicken wire is widely recognized as the hexagon shaped welded fencing wire, commonly used on farms for various fencing.   Experienced poultry owners know that the use of chicken wire for poultry is limited.  

In the blog, Bytes Daily, Otto  wrote a little explanation of chicken wire.

“chicken wire was invented in 1844 by British ironmonger Charles Barnard.  He developed it for his father, a farmer, the manufacturing process being based on cloth-weaving machines.  Apparently the town of Norwich, where Barnard Junior had his business, had a plentiful supply of cloth weaving machines.”

There are some instances where chicken coop wire is the perfect choice of wire, but when talking about securing your feathered friends in their run or coop, I do not recommend chicken wire.    While it may keep a small flock of chickens in a set area, it is not very strong.  Predators can easily move it out of their way, rip it or tear it open to gain access to your chickens, or other small vulnerable livestock.   It is similar to cloth in that it is woven together. 

Chicken Wire or Hardware Cloth Which is better for your coop

Here are a few instances where chicken wire may be used successfully.

Chicken wire can be used to keep pullets separated from the older chickens inside the chicken run. 

Chicken wire can be used to keep chickens out of the garden

Chicken wire is also useful when temporarily plugging holes at the fence base line to keep chickens in the run.  Fold or crumple up a piece of chicken wire and stuff it into the hole.  Cover with dirt and pack down.  Make a more permanent fence repair as soon as possible.

Chicken wire is good for burying underground around the perimeter of the chicken coop and run to deter predators from digging into the coop.  Most predators will only try to dig in for a short time.  When they reach a wire barrier they will often quit digging and move to another spot.  

Chicken wire is great for craft projects, building armatures for sculptures.

chicken wire

And Chicken Wire makes a pretty interesting texture in a photograph.

chicken wire


What to use instead of chicken wire

The preferred wire fencing to use for coop security is called hardware cloth.  I am not sure how it got the name because it is much stronger than cloth!  It does not bend as easily and is welded making it a stronger product. 

chicken wire

In our chicken coop we have six windows.  All of the windows are covered with hardware cloth with 1 inch square Hardware cloth comes in various size mesh.  The 1/4 inch size has a very tiny mesh and the 2 x 2 and 2 x 4 mesh would be too large of a mesh, allowing small predators to slip through.  I personally recommend either the 1/2 inch or 1 inch mesh.   Hardware cloth is most often a galvanized, welded metal product that is extremely durable.

chicken wire

Make sure you attach it to the window or vent openings using screws, and a sturdy board to hold it in place.

Safety Issues of  Chickens and Chicken Wire

Another reason to shy away from chicken wire is the possibility of it causing injury to your birds.

Since chicken wire is flimsy, it can break and fall apart leaving hazards for your chicken’s feet.  Chicken wire should never be used as a flooring for a coop as it can contribute to foot injuries, including bumblefoot.  Chicken toes can get caught in the wire and lead to broken toes.   Broken, worn wire sticking out can cause scratches, eye injuries and cuts.  

Paying attention to coop safety will help your chickens lead a long and happy life!


Chicken Wire or Hardware cloth Deciding what is best for your chicken area



 My new book, Chickens From Scratch, is available now through the Timber Creek Farm website or from   Chicken Book Cover

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