There is a big difference between chicken wire and hardware cloth. I now understand that chicken wire is intended to keep chickens confined to an area, not to prevent predators from reaching chickens.
When considering fencing options for the coop and run, as a general rule, the smaller the openings and the lower gauge the metal, the better security it will provide.
Hardware cloth is more expensive than chicken wire, but the initial investment is priceless given the heartache and financial losses it can ultimately prevent. Recommended by many is a 19 gauge- 1/2" x 1/2" galvanized hardware cloth.
Chicken wire, also known as hex netting, is a twisted steel wire mesh with hexagonal openings that can be galvanized or PVC coated.1
A hungry and determined predator,including but not limited to raccoons and some dogs, can tear through chicken wire with relative ease. It is not recommended as security fencing for chicken coops and runs.
Chicken wire is very flexible and can be good for making temporary structures designed to keep chickens confined, but it will not stop predators from gaining access to chickens.
Hardware cloth is wire mesh that consists of either woven or welded wires in a square or rectangular grid that is available in galvanized, stainless steel and bare steel.2
It is manufactured from a stronger gauge metal than chicken wire, (the smaller the gauge, the stronger the mesh) making it a much better choice for flock protection. 1/2" to 1/4" galvanized hardware cloth is typically recommended for coops and chicken runs.
Hardware Cloth Installation Best Practices
1. Bury hardware cloth to deter diggers. To protect chickens from predators such as raccoons and dogs, hardware cloth should be buried at least 12 inches into the ground around the perimeter of the coop and run OR buried underneath the floor of the coop and run.
2. Cover all windows with hardware cloth.
3. Secure hardware cloth with screws and washers. Staples are easily defeated by pushing or pulling.
Portions taken from: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/11/coop-security-hardware-cloth-vs-chicken.html
Predators are not that smart and will dig up against the wire fencing.
If you've got hardware cloth buried in the ground a foot out from the fence, they will never be able to dig in.Mat Midwest Air Tech 308200B 36-Inch-by-50-Foot 1/2-Inch Mesh 19-Gauge Hardware Cloth
Gilbert and Bennett 308229B 48-Inch by 50-Foot 1/2-Inch Mesh Hardware Cloth
Recomended for Chicken Coop preditor protection
Use to cover window and screen doors, tree guards, drains, gutters, soil sifters, and more
Uniformly welded for security and stability
Galvanized after product provides extra durability
Double zinc coating for maximum rust resistance and long life
19 gauge, 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch mesh
Miller Manufacturing ACC1 Wire Cage Clips
- Use to assemble or repair wire cages, hutches, and traps
- Wire clip pliers available (2261-6346)
- Includes 1lb of clips
Wire Clip Pliers
- CAGE CLIP PLIERS WIRE ACP2
- EA 12/CS MILLER
- Wire Cable Clip Pliers
- Use to assemble hutches, pet homes and traps.