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Q: Why we no longer use chicken wire? A: Raccoon!

 
master gardener
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Several years ago we stopped buying chicken wire to use when housing birds. I have some very old chicken wire and comparing if to the new stuff available, the old stuff has heavier wire and was galvanized *after* winding which also increases its strength.

Anything new we build, we're using hardware cloth on, and have been slowly replacing chicken wire as time allows. Unfortunately, as the picture below shows, not fast enough...
Raccoon-attack.jpg
A raccoon broke right through and ate another duck! Ducks have been moved somewhere safer.
A raccoon broke right through and ate another duck! Ducks have been moved somewhere safer.
 
pollinator
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Sorry to see that.  It is possible in some places to buy different gauges.  I find the cheaper grades tend to rust out in my climate after a few years, particularly if in contact with soil.  I often combine it over welded wire fencing to get strength + the smaller openings but everything comes at its price.
 
pollinator
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I use hardware cloth in my chicken coop and run, and for the coop, I buried it a couple feet.  It's working so far.

I am hoping to get away with gopher wire (chicken wire that is double dipped and galvanized) for my ground squirrel proof annual garden area, it is somewhat cheaper and easier to work with. Does anyone has experience with this?
 
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Raccoons...
Cute, as long as you don't have anything they want!

Can they fit through chainlink fencing?
If not,  I find used chainlink to be relatively easy to aquire.
If it's set far enough away  they won't be able to even reach the chicken wire to tear it,  and the ducks won't be able to wander into their clutches.
 
Jay Angler
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We have one enclosure that's made out of chain link panels we got cheap - we covered most of it with hardware cloth a couple of years ago when raccoon started tag-teaming against the chickens inside, frightening them against it and killing and dismembering them right through the wire. That's were we've moved the ducks to until we get the current situation under control.

It was great fun today trying to teach the Khakis how to leave their temporary shelter and go into a temporary run on a nearby grassy area for about 6 hours. The chickens would go over the temporary fencing, so they got left behind but seemed to sigh in relief until 5 pm when I shooed the ducks back in. This is by no means a long term solution, but the trick will be trying to keep it down to a week even. The extra time we're putting into managing the coon problem and the related fall-out takes time away from doing the long term fixing.

The usual long term lesson: Always build for the worst possible scenario and hope it never happens!
 
pollinator
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There are two problems with chicken wire for fowl; too light Gauge, and paws fit through the wire. Another issue is where fastened can act as a weak point. When heavily fastened it acts like a knife edge and a tear point; if lightly fastened it can be used to remove the fastener(s).

Hardware cloth is the tried and true, no fail mesh for use in safely containing birds (or rabbit etc.) - assuming the actual structure is sturdy, along with fastening method (I suggest horseshoe nails, NEVER staples from a staple gun).

Chainlink is STRONG enough, but useless against rodents or mink, is VERY climb able, and not protective against reaching paws.

Security keys: solid floor (concrete or buried hardware cloth); hardware cloth sides/roof OR electrified mesh OR solid metal sides/roof (metal roofing) in place of mesh.

Also look at everything within ten feet: trees, shrubs, buildings, fences, equipment... these can allow critters to breach an otherwise secure enclosure.
 
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Here in Northern Michigan raccoons are  a problem when people feed the "cute animals" Then they stop feeding them and they are not used to getting their food naturally. Then they go to neighboring houses and start to feast on chickens, ducks and cats as well as garden produce. Then we shoot them.  We just finished eating 5 out of 7 my hubby shot.  It took the pressure off and now I' m getting eggs again from the half of the flock that survive the attacks. One time even in broad daylight with my hubby and I both working in the yard!! That is one of the clues that tells me someone was treating these coons like pets and then stopped. Also when we butchered them they were way too fat for this time of year. Anyway the meat is usuable  I found several new recipes. I think the two favorites were in a stir fry and smoked and grilled after soaking in a brine for a day.  And yes, these ripped the fence up like it wasn't even fastened in place and strolled on in yard and henhouse . Shocking!! Now I have the hens in a  pen with heavier wire around them there.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Consider making the first 3-4 feet of a poultry pen solid, ideally metal roofing panels. This precludes most climbers (rats, mink, etc) and eliminates harm from those who "reach through" regular mesh. It also can limit stress on birds who can no longer visually see predators who might be "testing" your security measures.

In a perfect world, and a stationary pen, the metal would be trenched a few feet down to exclude predators who might DIG under a normal wall/fence. Then add another panel or half panel on top of the busied one to reach a height of 3-4 feet above grade.

This need NOT be new panels. Free panels from roof, industrial or barn type building demo's are often readily available if you are willing to fetch and haul them. As they are not required to be waterproof the screw holes make no difference.
 
pollinator
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I use hardware cloth in my chicken coop and run, and for the coop, I buried it a couple feet.  It's working so far.



That is what these guys recommend but were having trouble finding in stores

 
Stacy Witscher
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Interesting that you are having trouble finding it in stores. Do you mean they don’t carry it or they are sold out? Because we have most definitely been having trouble with things being sold out. I keep it and other things, like canning lids, on my shopping list to pick up anytime I see some available because it’s become an issue. While you can get these things shipped, shipping costs can be prohibitive.
 
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I quit using Chicken wire some time ago, my main reason is that it rusts away very fast. In a few years you have to replace it. I've been using 2"x3.5" welded wire, its galvanized and can be bought at tractor supply. And its as cheap (almost) as chicken wire and definitely cheaper than hardware cloth.
 
Jay Angler
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Ben House wrote:I've been using 2"x3.5" welded wire, its galvanized and can be bought at tractor supply.

It would be great if they made that 1"x 1" or preferably 3/4"x 3/4". Larger than that and mink can get through. Youngish ones can get through a hole the size of a quarter. Hardware cloth may be expensive, but at least raccoon can't put their paws through and dismember a chicken or duck right through the wire.

@ Devin Lavign: Some local stores will order it for you if they're out of stock. At least that way when it comes in, the quantity you want will have your name on it. We have a cross-Canada group of stores called "Home Hardware". The one near my sisters had never heard of "hardware cloth", but when I gave them the number off the web, they were happy to order it in. We had to wait 4 weeks, but there wasn't any extra cost for shipping.
 
pollinator
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What is Hardware cloth please?
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Hardware Cloth: galvanized mesh, aprox 1cm square openings (also comes in smaller 1/2 cm, but much lighter duty). Can also be referred to as aviary wire or mesh.
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