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Nobody home but us chickens (and rats)
I am taking today and Tuesday off from work because I need some downtime. We spent the weekend (and most of last week) building the chicken coop, as the chickens have quite thoroughly outgrown their cage. It is nearly done. We still need to hang the doors and put the roof on, but we are hoping to get that done today.

I have a decision to make about the roof. The roof material itself is plastic, and will be attached to the rafters with nails. This makes it the least-tough part of the coop. There are some open spaces under the eaves that still need to be covered with hardware cloth (metal screen) to keep out raccoons and rats (keeping those out will keep out anything that might try to get in). I have three options:

1. Trust the plastic, and just put hardware cloth in the spaces under the eaves. Advantages: least work; I can see exactly how to fit all the hardware cloth in. Disadvantages: involves trusting the plastic / roofing nails combination.

2. Staple a large rectangle of hardware cloth under the rafters. Advantages: wouldn't need to fill in spaces under eaves. Disadvantages: I'm not sure how I'd attach it on the side with the vents (already covered in hardware cloth, which will be trimmed to length and stapled to the outermost rafters); the obvious way would involve folding it over the existing vent hardware cloth, which would look kind of funny and might be hard to staple; would reduce chickens' headroom by about 3 inches, which isn't a major issue but the roost is up pretty high so they would notice the difference.

3. Staple a large rectangle of hardware cloth over the rafters, directly under the roofing material. Advantages: easiest to attach, least noticeable. Disadvantages: might interfere with roofing; would still have to fill in eave spaces.

Poll #1553228 Chicken Coop Roofing

What do you think?

Trust the plastic.
Under the rafters.
Over the rafters.
I have a better idea! (see comments)

Once we get the roof sorted out and the doors attached, we will paint over the exterior screws and touch up any parts that got scratched in assembly. The chickens go out as soon as the paint doesn't smell funny. We've still got quite a bit to do on the run, which will give them an outdoor area (screened in with hardware cloth) to peck around in, so we're not actually done constructing, but chickens out of the house is just about in sight. Hurrah!

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My thoughts are that squirrels at least have been known to chew through plastic, so other things might also (although I'm sure it depends on the type of plastic).

I have no expertise with this sort of thing, but since you say that both option #1 and option #3 are pretty easy to do, I'd say do both and have a bit more peace of mind. :)

Hmm. Good point -- and we have some pretty large and not-to-be-messed-with-looking raccoons in the area, which can probably do similar things to squirrels.

tiger_spot is currently doing a variant on the over-the-rafters variant as I type this. We figured out a way to make it relatively easy to do.

By "we", Brooks means Brooks. For he is a clever Brooks.

The thing he figured out how to make easy is how to block the eave space by folding the over-the-rafter pieces. This is much less fiddly than cutting out individual eave-space-blocking pieces.

Edited at 2010-04-20 12:05 am (UTC)

I was just going to say "why don't you fold the hardware cloth over the rafters?"

Our chicks are getting big! They live in Luke's room now, and will move out to the farm in about a month. Luke says that they are a very noisy night-light.

Don't just trust the plastic.

You can buy metal clips and crimpers from the hardware store/grain store that will allow you to connect hardware cloth to other pieces of hardware cloth.

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