Fencing of some kind is essential around your coop and/or chicken yard to keep your chickens in and to keep pests and predators out. Pests (mice, rats, snakes, etc.) want your chickens’ dinner. Predators (dogs, raccoons, foxes, hawks, etc.) want your chickens for dinner. There are a several kinds of wire and fencing, and I’ll talk about a handful of them here:
Galvanized hardware cloth. This is the best material for enclosing a chicken coop or enclosed run. In particular, you want 1/2″ galvanized hardware cloth (usually 19 gauge). Smaller openings could be too brittle, and larger openings will not deter against rats or snakes. Hardware cloth comes in 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-foot rolls—with 3′ and 4′ being the most common — and in roll lengths anywhere from 5, 25, 50 to 100 feet.
The mesh is made by weaving or welding steel wires together, then hot-dipping it in zinc (galvanizing it) to protect it from rust. It’s a stiff product, but you can bend it by hand, cut it fairly easily with a pair of wire snips, and attach it to your frame or posts with 3/4″ galvanized poultry fencing staples. Once bent into shape, hardware cloth holds its shape well. Avoid using staples from a hand-powered staple gun. They rust easily, and if/when they slip out, they will get pecked at. Galvanized staples shot from a pneumatic staple gun, on the other hand, work great.
See our online Buyer’s Guide for more specific recommendations on hardware cloth, wire snips, and air-powered staplers for your chicken coop project.
Chicken wire. Maybe because of its name, this is what most people think to use first on their coops. It’s made of thin wire woven together to create hexagonal openings. It’s relatively cheap but rusts quickly. And while it will keep your chickens in, it won’t keep the raccoons out. . . .