It sounds so right.
Chicken. Wire. Wire for enclosing chickens. What could go wrong?
A lot. Chicken wire, also called poultry netting, is a lot like duct tape. Used for everything but good for nothing.
You’ve seen it, the cute honey-comb pattern wrapped around rustic coops, the very model of American farm yard-ery. The only problem is that chicken wire, while visually pleasing, doesn’t do its job, at least not long term.
The primary reason for enclosing your chickens in their own space – a coop, run, or nursery – is to keep them safe. Chicken wire is made of, well, wire. However, the wire is very thin. It is galvanized to withstand the elements, but will not over the long haul.
Eventually, your chicken wire will rust and corrode. Because it is so thin, predators like raccoons can (and will) break it. And they don’t need much space to get in. A raccoon or fox can slink through a hole the size of a grape fruit.
These predators play for keeps. I lost my entire flock of 12 chickens in one night when two coons broke in.
There is a better way
There are three better options to chicken wire, based on application.
1. 2″ x 4″ weld wire
Weld wire is also made of galvanized wire, but it is much thicker than chicken wire and will last longer.
While I do not recommend using weld wire for high-security areas like your run, it is fine for a broody breaker or yard fence.
2. “Rabbit wire”
Love this stuff, especially the kind coated with PVC. Rabbit wire is the common name for 1″ weld wire (it is commonly used for rabbit hutches).
It is expensive, so use it sparingly. You would not use it to cover an entire run (you could, but you better have serious budget), but it is great for nurseries. The small spaces make it impossible for even the tiniest chick or slither-i-est rat snake to pass through.
3. The ultimate: chain link
Lasts for ages. Virtually unbreakable. Chain link is the ultimate poultry protection device.
It is also expensive but you will not have to replace it for years and years and years. No predator (save a bear, maybe) can penetrate it. I use chain link to cover my run – top, sides, and along the ground – and haven’t lost a chicken to a predator since.
You won’t regret it
I used chicken wire for way too long and lost many birds along the way. If there is one tip that I wish someone had shared with me when I was a new chicken raiser, it would be this one.
Dump the chicken wire and use something actually made for chickens.