VPMods: Hardware Cloth Installation

This is the first in a series of posts describing our awesome mods to our version of The Garden Coop. The instructions for The Garden Coop are all you really need to make a fantastic chicken paradise. But, if you’re like me and my dad, you can’t help but make some modifications and upgrades! Our mods are pretty minor, but we think that they helped ensure the flock’s safety and made it easier for me (a novice chicken farmer) to take care of them.

Today’s topics: Hardware Cloth Installation Methods

Hardware Cloth

The Garden Coop is big on security and it recommends using ¼” hardware cloth. This wasn’t surprising to me. The term chicken wire is a complete misnomer. Apparently chicken wire doesn’t really keep anything out that wants to get in. I don’t know this from personal experience, but the many sites and forums that I visited while researching the chicken coop build all say that chicken wire is too flimsy to keep any real predators out of the coop. So, ¼” hardware cloth was definitely the way we were going to go!

The installation method that The Garden Coop uses really tries to maximize your rolls of hardware cloth. This stuff isn’t inexpensive, so making the most of your product is necessary if you’re building your coop on a budget. The problem that we had with the installation was that it required you to “stitch” the hardware cloth together across the width of each wall. Short of stitching with some welding, we were afraid that this might provide another avenue for predators to attack the coop.

Rather than hang our cloth horizontally, we chose to hang it vertically. This required us to do a bit more cutting and left a lot of scrap left over, but in the end we thought that it was more secure.

Ardha Chicken-drasana

Ardha Chicken-drasana

By the time we hung every panel, lined the roof, and added our own lining to the bottom we were hardware cloth hanging PROS. And that was thanks to the astute observation of my mother! We had struggled through three panels across the back (a space that required creative yoga moves to reach all the edges because of its proximity to our fence line) we had moved on to the ceiling area. Mom casually looks up and says that this looks a lot like stretching a canvas before painting on it. Thank goodness for art students!! Here’s how to stretch a canvas, or hardware cloth:

Hardware Installation GIF

How to stretch hardware cloth like a painting canvas in 4 easy steps.

Step 1: Secure the middle of each side.

Step 2: Add another secure anchor on either side of your middle anchor on each side. Make sure that your cloth is taut and flat against the frame.

Step 3-whatever: Continue adding additional anchors on the outsides of each of your previous anchor until you reach the corner. Again, make sure there’s no wrinkles in your cloth.

Step Finito: Secure the corners!

If only we’d known that when we first started!!

Securing Hardware Cloth

There are lots of different methods for attaching your hardware cloth. Your traditional method would be to hammer in about a billion little poultry staples all over the place. We were not interested in the level of manual labor that required. Other than manual labor, poultry staples are also pretty permanent. If you need to replace a panel for any reason, make an adjustment, or do some work that requires the hardware cloth to be removed you’re going to be in a world of hurt.

We opted to afix the hardware cloth with cabinet screws [Amazon Affiliate link] backed by a cute little ¼” washer. Again, not the cheapest kit in the box, but the cabinet screws bite into the wood flawlessly, and the ¼” washers ensure that everything stays securely in place. I think we used around 3 or 4 boxes for the whole thing.

Assuming you’re not building your chicken coop in the basement, you’ll want to get galvanized flat washers [Amazon Affiliate link]. Zinc plated washers aren’t bad. Both zinc plating and galvanizing are ways of protecting metal from the elements. But hot dipped galvanized metal is 10 times more protected than zinc plating. That means that you just might give up chicken farming before you have to replace your washers.

Predator Proofing

Hardware cloth-lined coop

Hardware cloth-lined coop

We opted not to bury our hardware cloth below ground level. Villa Pollaio is constructed inside my little garden space. When we built the garden space we lined the entire thing with weed cloth; idea being that if we started out right, all those pesky weeds would stay out of my garden! WRONG! This past year, my mother and I spent the better part of a several weekends laying a thick layer of cardboard all over the garden space and then topping it a thick layer of leaf mulch. Digging a moat around Villa Pollaio would mean digging through a thick layer of cardboard and then cutting through 10-year weed cloth. That was not our idea of fun.

Instead, we decided to line the interior with hardware cloth. If we couldn’t keep the burrowing animals from burrowing up around the coop, surely a burrowing animal who suddenly rams his little predator head into a big mass of hardware cloth would be deterred!

I know what you’re thinking, but what about the little chickie feet?! Don’t worry, when we were finished lining the coop run floor we dumped a ton of contractor grade sand into the bottom and filled it all the way up to that painted 4×4. No worries! Chickies will be in a perpetual beach-like paradise; they’ll never even know the hardware cloth is there.

Stay tuned for my next post… VPMods: Clean outs and Catches!!

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