Here you must use hardware cloth – 1/2 inch grid. Chicken wire, or as it’s called here in PC California ‘poultry netting’, is made to keep chickens in, NOT to keep predators out. I’ve read far too many stories – search in BackyardChickens.com – of raccoons reaching through and stealing chicken heads. and yes, it’s often just the heads – what a waste. Pretty gruesome sight I don’t want to witness nor subject my family to. In the same vein, staples are not sufficiently strong to hold the hardware cloth in place against a determined and hungry predator.
Earlier I mentioned that I framed up the coop with the 2×4’s on edge. The main reason for that was to expose more surface area for attaching the hardware cloth. It’s a much more forgiving process when you have 3.5 instead of 1.5 inches to work with, especially in those areas where panels meet or overlap.
Since I had already started down the path of using screws, I kept going here. But… how to spread the force of the screw across the wire? Some places recommended ‘fender washers’, but my frugal (cheap?) self cringed at the price. Here was an unlikely chance to merge 2 of my interests – beer and chickens. I recruited my young assistant to make starter holes by pounding a nail through bottle caps (after making a jig so he wouldn’t crush his fingers) and used a nice assortment of caps to hold the wire in place.
The walk-in coop door was framed with 2x4s, stained and skinned with hardware cloth. More salvaged hinges were used to hang it. The latch was a new purchase. Don’t install the latch without by yourself without being sure you can get back out. I put the latch on before attaching the last panel of hardware cloth. A string though the a hole in the frame, tied to the latch is a fantastic idea. Fortunately, one I learned from somebody else’s experience. We made sure the shortest in the family could reach the escape line – just in case…
Next: Finishing Touches