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Funny Farm Industries Participates in the Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair

Chickens on the Tour de Funky Chickens

Michelle Hernandez heads up Funny Farm Industries and is the event organizer for Austin’s annual Funky Chicken Coop Tour and The Austin and Central Texas Backyard Poultry Meetup. Hernandez will join the action at the 13th Annual Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair (The Roundup). Fair goers can learn about urban poultry and backyard habitats at the Funny Farm Industries talk on Sunday, September 29th at 1 pm. The Roundup is a place to see new ideas in action; to test, explore and interact with products and services for healthy sustainable living. The Roundup takes place at Market Square, 126 West Main St. in Fredericksburg, September 27 – 29, 2013.

“Chickens and poultry are just one gateway into backyard food production systems. They enable us to reuse our food table scraps; create nutrient-rich ‘black gold’ for the garden; and produce delicious, healthful eggs and meat, all in a sustainable loop.” Michelle Hernandez, Founder, Funny Farm Industries

For 13 years the Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair has been a perfect weekend destination for Texans who want to enjoy a fall road trip to the Texas Hill Country. The Roundup is the largest all sustainability fair in the South. Texans seeking healthier lifestyles and those concerned about drought and the environment have come to the Roundup yearly to hear national leaders and local experts; to participate in workshops and panel discussions and to enjoy creative events. The Roundup takes place annually the last weekend in September. Tickets are $10 per day, $12 on Saturday or $25 for a weekend pass.

About Funny Farm Industries

Funny Farm Industries provides support and services for this newer breed of farmer, the Urban Farmer, providing people with tools to get the knowledge they need, streamlined for the urban lifestyle.  It also is the creator of the iOS app Pickin’ Chicken by Mother Earth News.

About the Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair

The Renewable Energy Roundup is co-organized by Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA) and Texas Center for Policy Studies (TCPS). Event proceeds benefit TREIA and TCPS, two non-profits striving to increase understanding and awareness of renewable energy applications and to promote their wide use.  For more details logon to www.TheRoundup.org, call 830-997-2350 or email: info@TheRoundup.org.

The 13th Annual Renewable Energy Roundup in Fredericksburg, Texas

The Renewable Energy Roundup in Fredericksburg, TX

Come out to Fredericksburg to learn about all things renewable and green in the 13th Annual Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair (“the Roundup”). Urban Poultry Association of Texas, Inc., parent organization for The Funky Chicken Coop Tour® and The Austin and Central Texas Backyard Poultry Meetup will have an exhibitor booth at the Fair and be available to answer questions on about raising poultry as part of a clean backyard food production system.  Michelle Hernandez, founder and event organizer of The Funky Chicken Coop Tour, and Head Chickenista for Funny Farm Industries will be giving a talk on Raising Backyard Poultry at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 29th at the Roundup.  See the Roundup schedule for more information.

About the Roundup…


A Texas Fall Favorite, The Renewable Energy Roundup Unfolds in Fredericksburg

Co-Op Panel Reviews Sustainable Energy Resources

FREDERICKSBURG, Texas, June 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — At the 13th annual Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair (The Roundup) we’ll be filling the grounds with exhibitors and packing the tents with outstanding speakers and panels on topics for green lifestyles. People from across Texas, from communities large and small converge on Fredericksburg annually in search of ideas for a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable and energy efficient lifestyle. The Roundup is a place to see new ideas in action; discover new organic farming techniques, learn about green building and remodeling, taste fresh organic foods and to test, explore and interact with products and services for living sustainably. The Roundup takes place at Market Square, 126 West Main St. in Fredericksburg, September 27 – 29, 2013.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130619/DA35048LOGO)

The fair is an annual Texas favorite and the largest all-sustainable fair in the south. David Bebeau, CEO, Sunrise Solar recently said, “I’ve been coming to the Roundup since it started in 1999 and I have had the same booth space for 12 years now. It is one of the most enjoyable shows we do for both exhibitors and the participants.”

Texans seeking green lifestyles and concerned about drought and the environment have come to the Roundup yearly to hear national leaders and local experts; to participate in workshops; and to enjoy races and other creative events. Among the informative focus panels taking place over the three-day event, the Texas Co-Op Energy panel will have representatives from Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative and Pedernales Electric Cooperative with the panel’s moderator joining us from the State Energy Conservation Office, SECO. It is a great opportunity to learn about what your energy supplier is doing currently to provide you and your community with secure energy that is clean and efficient and how their long-term energy goals encourage new industries and bring new jobs to local communities.

DATES:

  • Grand Opening, Friday, September 27th noon – 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 28th 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 29th 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

LOCATION:

  • Market Square, 126 West Main, Fredericksburg, Texas 78624

COST:

  • Friday & Sunday $10, Saturday $12, Weekend Pass $25

To get details, special offers, and other information sign up for the newsletter at http://theroundup.org or friend Texas Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair on Facebook.  Join us at The Roundup for:

  • Renewable, Green, Sustainable Products and Services
  • Information on Green Building, Water Harvesting, Gardening
  • Healthy Cooking demos and Organic Food Cafes
  • Dozens of Interesting and Informative Speakers
  • Popular Panel Discussions
  • Alternative Fueled Vehicles
  • The RC Solar Car Race
  • Live Music

The Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair is co-organized by Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA) and the Texas Center for Policy Studies (TCPS). For information call 830-997-2350 or email info@theroundup.org. Among the entities that have already committed to sponsor the event are CPS Energy, Pedernales Electric Cooperative, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club and Environment Texas. Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association, (TREIA) is the oldest renewable energy non-profit trade organization in Texas. For more than a quarter century, it has promoted development of sustainable, renewable resources and their wise use. Visit TREIA at www.treia.org. ?Founded in 1982, Texas Center for Policy Studies (TCPS) brings together people and the information necessary to ensure that growth and development in our region enhances, rather than diminishes, quality of life.

Debrah Dubay, Dubay Communications Debrah@DubayCo.com Phone: 512-627-3782

Vote for Chickens at SxSW 2014 Interactive

SxSW is a huge multimedia/interactive/tech/community/film event that happens every year in March 2013 in Austin, Texas.  This year I have submitted proposals for SxSW – but I need your votes to make it happen!

** Voting ends  September 6, 2013 at 11:59 PM CT. **

Vote_My_Session 1. Outdoor Education: How to Start a Green Tour

Learn about the experience and strategies for creating a successful, FUNky green tour. Click on the icon at the left to go vote for this session idea (additional instructions are below).

Vote_My_Session

2. Austin and Central Texas Backyard Poultry Meetup – Come join fellow chickenistas to learn more about raising backyard poultry, including some geeky tips for your backyard poultry operation (this is SxSW Interactive, right?).Click on the icon at the left to go vote for this session idea (additional instructions are below).

HOW TO VOTE:

1. Sign up for a free SxSW Panel Picker account if you don’t already have one. Get an account at: https://auth.sxsw.com/users/sign_up

2. Sign in to your Panel Picker account.

3. Copy this URL into your browser window (while you are signed into your Panel Picker account): http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/25317

4. Click on the “thumbs up” icon on the left side of the screen under “Cast Your Vote”.  The thumb will turn a color after it has been selected.

5. Now, copy this URL into your browser window (while you are signed into your Panel Picker account): http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/20988

6.  Click on the “thumbs up” icon on the left side of the screen under “Cast Your Vote”.  The thumb will turn a color after it has been selected.

And you’re done!

Watch out for sneaky snake!

Texas Rat Snake in Duck Pen

Our 4-year old Khaki Campbell ducks are still amazingly prolific egg layers. We noticed their lay rate had gone down over the past few days. Laying rates can go down for many reasons, including some type of unexpected startle or interruption to the routine.  By the 2nd day of less prolific laying, we were suspicious and started looking around more carefully. And look who we found up on a “second floor” area we no longer use as a brooder :  Mr. or Ms. Texas Rat Snake, with about 6 lumps of eggs in its belly!

predator in trees

What besides branches do you see in this picture?

The Texas Rat Snake is non-venomous and has other nicknames, such as “Chicken Snake” or “Tree Snake”.  It generally grows up to around 6 feet in length, although it can grow larger, as may have been this case with our newly discovered visitor. As shown in this photo, they are excellent tree climbers. Once, I tried to move one with my hands and was amazed at the sheer strength in its undulating body!

They can become aggressive if cornered and can give you a nasty non-venomous strike. Further, the snake can vibrate its tail, which can lead to misidentification as a rattle snake.

Friend of foe for poultry? Depends on how you view it…

They do love to eat bird eggs, but a good coop setup using hardware cloth for any ventilated areas can keep them out of the coop. The one in our simply because I had left the front of the duck pen open while our ducks were in their gated yard.  We have a larger brush pile not that far away, so I’m sure the snake just welcomed itself through the front door and went up to its own private second floor to wait for some yummy duck egg meals.

On the positive side, as the name indicates, they eat rodents, so having them around can keep a rodent population at bay, especially when you leave on larger pieces of land with fields, brush piles, etc. This also keeps rodents away from loose chicken feed. Further, if there are no rodents or other small creatures to eat, this can keep away other snakes, such as the venomous rattle snake.

All in all, seems poultry and rat snakes can both be on the same property without poultry incident with good coop design and regular inspections of the coop if egg production goes down.

Spring Predator

predator in trees

What, besides trees, do you see in this picture?

Pickin’ Chicken Expanded Guide to Over 163 Breeds/Varieties of Chickens

Pickin’ Chicken Expanded Guide to Over 163 Breed/Varieties of Chickens

Austin, TX    March, 2012 in Reference

Austin-based Funny Farm Industries and Mother Earth News, the longest-running publication dedicated to sustainable lifestyles, today introduce an expanded version of Pickin’ Chicken for iOS, their complete, illustrated guide to over 82 different breeds and 163 varieties of chickens. Included are 19 Search Categories, rare and heritage breeds, over 140 new photos, a Glossary of terms, a list of Resources, and tips on chicken care.  For a limited time, the app will be available at a spring sale download price of $1.99.

The app launches geared toward the novice by asking, “Why do you want chickens?” Navigation through a quick set of questions will bring the user to a results screen on the “Picked Chicks”. Each search result listing includes a thumbnail photo, the breed name, heritage, icons for egg size & color, and the weight at harvest time. Selecting any of the breed listings brings up a Summary, including the American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s Endangered status for the breed, and a detailed entry on that particular breed of chicken. The breed profile includes full screen photos with zoom abilities and access to an additional online chicken photo gallery.

The more experienced chickenist can drill down to the app’s extensive searching capabilities in the “Eggspert” screen. Now offering 19 different searching features, including for those harvesting chickens for the table, the “Eggspert” search function adds: Breed Name or Origin; Standard or Bantam; Temperament; Climate; Flavor Recognition; Weight Range; Comb Type; Housing Suitability; Heritage; Free Range; Forager; Sex Linked; Broody; and American Poultry Association (APA) recognition.

Pickin' Chicken Eggspert Search Screen

19 searchable fields, including Weight and Flavor

The app uniquely shows a wide array of breeds, their varieties, and photos of different age and gender chickens. For instance, the breed of Old English Game shows 11 different varieties, including Silver Duckwing, White, Lemon Blue, Spangled, and many others.

Mother Earth News is offering app users the chance to win their seasonal Coop Giveaway by registering to win through the app.

Feature Highlights:

  • Search for chickens using a friendly question and answer approach
  • Pinpoint eggspert search for the power chickenist
  • Alphabetical browsing of over 82 breeds and their varieties
  • Filtering on rare and heritage breeds
  • Track your favorite breeds
  • Detailed breed profiles
  • Over 300 chicken photos with multiple varieties for many breeds
  • Additional resources for chicken care and hatcheries to contact for your picked chicks
  • The ability to enter the Mother Earth News Chicken Coop Raffle from within the app

Pickin’ Chicken also offers an editable Favorites library, a Browser function, a Glossary of terms, educational Resources, Tips on chicken care, a link to upload the user’s own chicken photos, an integrated Twitter link, and an opportunity to subscribe to the company’s free newsletter.

“Spring is a great time to get started with chickens,” observes Michelle Hernandez, president of Funny Farm Industries. “We want to help by offering a spring sale price to help people get started with all the various breeds and varieties available”

Pricing and Availability: Pickin’ Chicken 1.1.5 is available for a limited time at $1.99 (USD) through the App Store in the Reference category. Review copies are available upon request.

Device Requirements:

* Apple iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad

* iOS 3.0 or later

* 10.1 MB

Pricing and Availability:? Pickin’ Chicken 1.1.9 is available for a limited time at $1.99 (USD) through the App Store in the Reference category. Review copies are available upon request.

Funny Farm Industries

Pickin’ Chicken 1.1.5

Purchase and Download

Screenshot 1

Screenshot 2

Application Icon

About Funny Farm Industries Deep in the heart of Austin, Texas, Funny Farm Industries is a privately funded company focusing on providing tools and resources for the urban farmer. Copyright 2009-2012. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod, and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

###

Michelle Hernandez

President

Facebook Profile: View

Twitter: View

About Mother Earth News Mother Earth News (www.MotherEarthNews.com) is the Original Guide to Living Wisely. Topics include organic gardening, do-it-yourself projects, cutting energy costs, using renewable energy, green home building and rural living.

About Ogden Publications Ogden Publications Inc. (www.OgdenPubs.com) is the leading information resource serving the sustainable living, rural lifestyle, farm memorabilia and classic motorcycle communities. Key brands include Mother Earth News, Natural Home & Garden, Utne Reader, Capper’s and Grit. Ogden Publications also produces environmentally friendly housewares through Natural Home Products LLC, and provides insurance and financial services through its Capper’s Insurance Service division.

PJ to Coq au Vin

For those who grew up on a farm, processing chickens may be a normal process. Those who have gotten into the latest backyard chicken revival may have a different perspective.  I know many backyard chicken fans who are very attached to their feathered pets.  I know a couple, although not the majority, who even paint their nails! We love our pets, the joy they bring, and the eggs they offer us for our consumption.

I started around four years ago raising chickens.  I planned on all females and started small with 4 chickens and 4 guineas. I started as many urbanists do with the novelty, amazed at the fun chickens brought to our house.  I did the classic “naming my chickens” move.  All my chickens were distinctive, had names, and quickly became pets.  The thought of putting them on the dinner table seemed unthinkable.

Pat our first surprise rooster

Pat the rooster in disguise

And then…one of my pullets (young female chickens under 1 year old) started getting a really big comb and waddles.  Suspect of this development, we named this bird “Pat” for the ambiguity.  Sure enough, Pat was our first surprise rooster.

Pat was a very sweet Barred Rock roo.  He was easy to hold and cuddle.  We loved him dearly…but so did our loveable thuggable guineas.  They all grew up together, but once the guinea cocks reached about 8 months, their favorite game was “Let’s beat up the roo!”.

With a heavy heart, we decided at the time we could not keep our Pat safe from our guineas’ activities, and rehomed him to another family with children.

While Pat was no longer with us, his fertile eggs were.  We borrowed a neighbor’s incubator and decided to see what we got from our fertile chicken and guinea eggs.

Of the hatched offspring was a Barred Plymouth Rock chick…with a cocky walk.  I literally knew from the first day this had to be a rooster. And, so, we got “PJ”, or Pat, Jr.

PJ and friends

PJ surrounded by his harem

From day 1, PJ was not nearly as friendly as the other chicks, although he got as much attention as the others. He was a plucky little guy, who grew into the rooster of his coop. By the time PJ was hitting his adolescence, the chickens were in a newly built coop separate from the guineas, so he could stay as king of the roost.

PJ Watching Flock

PJ, on right, watches over his girls

He grew into a larger rooster and did watch out for his girls.  But he also attacked both my husband and I at every turn.  Does it mean he is a “bad” rooster?  Maybe it reflects on something we did differently with him than with his father?  Regardless, after a couple of years and multiple chicken sitters who raised chickens noting he “freaked them out”, we decided he was a loaded gun waiting for the perfect storm.  The last thing we wanted was one of our younger nieces or nephews or a neighbor’s child coming over to be scarred (perhaps literally or just figuratively) by our rooster. Unlike his docile father, we did not feel right re-homing him with his disposition.

Neither of us are vegan, and we thought of another use for him: coq au vin. I’ve gone from thinking I’d never eat any of my flock to seeing it as a natural progression in local food. I had processed a turkey before, and had helped my neighbor cull some of her flock. It was time, for me at least, to go to the next step and cull one of my own flock members.

I watched many videos on humanely processing chickens and read many articles on the steps involved.  PJ was 2 years old, so I also referred to The American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s materials on cooking heritage chicken. We relied primarily on Alton Brown’s coq au vin recipe for general ingredient guidance (and our garden for herbs and vegetables for the table).

PJ's last moments

Mixed emotions as I say thank you and good-bye to PJ

Since I was only processing 1 bird, I made a list of equipment I would need for processing. I made sure not to feed PJ starting the day before I processed him, although I made sure he had water, as it was the summer when the event was to take place. I had had so many battles with this rooster, many times hearing what seemed to be a triumphant laugh from this rooster after he banged up my legs or hands.  Still, the actual day I felt a little sad knowing this was “the day”.

I wanted him to go in a calm state of mind, and I was, despite the many battles, grateful to him for his time watching over the flock and for the meal he was about to provide.

The equipment was ready. The cone prepared. The deed was to be done.

Processing equipmentKilling Cone and stainless steel bowlPJ in Cone

Taking a life in my mind should be a somber experience with a spirit of gratitude.  I chose a killing cone and severed his jugular swiftly, speaking softly to him as he passed.

The attached steps go into the details of what passed from that point, from the initial kill, to scalding, plucking, eviscerating, and storage. I have some photos, but you can find plenty more of the entire process online. If you are new to processing, it is always helpful if you can find a buddy to share the experience and guide you.

As to meals…

We wanted to use as many parts of our PJ without waste. Within about an hour of processing, we made a meal from his blood with fresh herbs and vegetables, borrowing from a recipe we had seen our Eastern European neighbor make.  It had a very mild taste and felt nourishing, knowing its source.

Cooking blood meal
In a very hot pan with oil, we fryed the blood, drained it, then cut it into strips
Blood and Garden Veggies in Cast Iron

We added a stir fry like medley of onions, peppers, garlic, and garden herbs

PJ on the cutting board
At a later date, we prepared our coq au vin.  PJ didn’t have much breast meat, but he had some mighty meaty legs. We figure it’s from his running from guineas (who had now a separate coop)…and all the lovin’ of his ladies.

We were excited but also wanted to do him justice on our preparation. We would feel really bad if we cooked him poorly.  I guess *he* wouldn’t know, but we just felt he deserved to be the finest quality, knowing that he wasn’t a wrapped package from the supermarket.  He was PJ.

We had the dinner table set with a simple salad (yes, we ate him a couple of months after the summer heat) and wine. He was superb.  We were concerned that a 2-year old rooster would be tough and stringy, but his legs were juicy and flavorful. We shared “soft light” memories of our cantankerous rooster who now sat before us in a more subdued state. Other meals and stock followed that week, including chicken soup, stock, and chicken salad.

PJ on Dinner Table

Coq au vin. Thanks, PJ!

Thank you, PJ.

Egg Nog for the Holidays

The holiday season brings a time for new and creative recipes.  It also offers the perfect opportunity to share – and plain show off – the quality of fresh, backyard poultry eggs.

I mean, just look at this beauty. Isn’t the quality of such eggs something worth bragging about?

fresh egg

fresh egg profile

Here is a traditional recipe that is sure to be a hit at any holiday party.  Thanks to my friend for passing this on! You can research egg benefits and preparation considerations. There is lots of information you can find.

HOMEMADE EGG NOG

1 cup milk
1 farm fresh egg
1 Tbsp. Vermont maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
For those wanting some additional kick, add an (optional) jigger of season’s spirits (Kahlua, Irish Whiskey, etc.)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Turn the blender on high for about 20 seconds. Find your favorite holiday glass, sprinkle with nutmeg and cinammon, and enjoy!

On eggs…for those in the Texas area on January 7, 2012, don’t miss the Winter Bluebonnet Egg Show at the 2012 Bluebonnet Classic in College Station.  Don’t be shy about showcasing your own eggs at the show.  From backyard novice to experienced chickenist, all are welcome to enter or just come out for the fun.

Pickin’ Chicken expands to more breeds, photos, and search features

Pickin' Chicken for the iPhone

Austin-based Funny Farm Industries and Mother Earth News have announced exciting updates to the Pickin’ Chicken by Mother Earth News app for iOS. The illustrated chicken guide now has 82 breeds and more than 100 varieties, new photos, and expanded advanced search options.

Perfect for the first-time chicken owner getting started or long-time owner looking to add new breeds to a flock, the app allows the user to find the ideal chicken breed for eggs, meat, personality, or any combination through over 16 “Eggspert” search options.
New features in the Eggspert screen include the ability to search for American Poultry Association (APA) accepted varieties/breeds, comb type,  and updated American Livestock Breed Conservancy endangered breed statuses. Users also can search for characteristics such as Breed Name; Growth Rate; Temperament; Climate; Heritage/Rare Breeds; Foraging Instincts; Sex Linked; Housing Suitability; and Egg Lay Rate, Size and Color.
Comb Type on Eggspert Search

A new feature includes Comb Types searches on the Eggspert screen

Each search result listing includes a thumbnail photo, the breed name, heritage, icons for egg size and color, and the weight at harvest time. Selecting any of the breed listings brings up a summary, as well as a detailed entry on that particular breed of chicken, with full-screen photos and information from the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy if the breed is rare or endangered.
Pickin’ Chicken also features an editable Favorites library, a browsable alphabetical listing of chicken types, a glossary of terms, educational resources, tips on chicken care, a link to upload the user’s own chicken photos, an integrated Twitter link, and an opportunity to subscribe to a free e-newsletter.
“We’re pleased and humbled by the overwhelmingly positive feedback from our user community” stated Funny Farm Industries’ President, Michelle Hernandez. “We enjoy getting photo submissions from our users’ flocks.  We get some funny ones as well as ones we share in our app.”
The app also offers the opportunity to win a free coop from Mother Earth News. The next coop drawing will be December 17, 2011, allowing plenty of time to get ready for a spring flock.
Availability: Pickin’ Chicken 1.1.4 is available now through the App Store in the Reference category. Review copies are available upon request.

About Funny Farm Industries
Deep in the heart of Austin, Texas, Funny Farm Industries (www.funnyfarmind.com) is a privately funded company focusing on providing tools and resources for the urban farmer. Copyright 2009-2011. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod, and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

About Mother Earth News
Mother Earth News (www.MotherEarthNews.com) is the Original Guide to Living Wisely. Topics include organic gardening, do-it-yourself projects, cutting energy costs, using renewable energy, green home building and rural living.
About Ogden Publications
Ogden Publications Inc. (www.OgdenPubs.com) is the leading information resource serving the sustainable living, rural lifestyle, farm memorabilia and classic motorcycle communities. Key brands include Mother Earth News, Natural Home & Garden, Utne Reader, Capper’s and Grit. Ogden Publications also produces environmentally friendly housewares through Natural Home Products LLC, and provides insurance and financial services through its Capper’s Insurance Service division.

Fortify your Coop!

UPDATED 8.29.2011 I added a little more info on hardware cloth sizes and durability.

We don’t live in a perfect world, but we can work towards having a near perfect coop.  While chickens are inside the coop, you want them safe from outside critters.

Q: How about chicken wire?

A: Chicken wire is a great, cheap way to make a simple coop, but that stuff is far from predator proof. In fact, it’s downright predator-friendly.  It is thin, and critters like racoons can break it apart.  Further, the spaces in between the wires are big enough that predators can often get their hands through and pull their prey – your beloved chickens – to the wire and eat them in piece-meal fashion.

Overall predator-prevention rating by itself: F!

Q: How about a coop made of welded wire horse fence, like 2 in.  x 4 in. wire fencing?

A: This is definitely more durable than chicken wire and does have its uses in predator prevention.  For instance, if you have a dirt floor on your coop, you could use it 6 inches on either side of the coop boundary to make a digging barrier.  While perhaps not 100% predator prevention, it sure is going to deter a predator from having to do a 1 foot tunnel to get to its meal.  Further, it is durable as a day run and will keep predators from breaking it, if set up.  This however, won’t keep critters like rat snakes, rodents, or young predators (skunks, racoons, etc) from slipping right through.  Believe me, I have a garden with 2 x 4 inch. wire and watched a young skunk just waltz right in and out between a rectangle of wire.

Overall predator-prevention rating: C-   if as the coop by itself, A for bottom/floor enhancement.

Q: What about galvanized hardware cloth?

A: Ahh…now we’re getting somewhere.  Hardware cloth comes in different sizes, from 1/8 to 1/2 inch.  1/2 inch or less is small enough to keep a critter from reaching through. Depending on the gauge,  it’s durable enough not to break apart when pulled. The 1/2 inch hardware cloth is generally still 19-gauge, even with manufacturing shifting more overseas. The smaller the dimensions, often the weaker the gauge.  Many professional coop builders use 1/2 inch hardware cloth as part of their predator prevention design, as there is no such thing as a fully predator “proof” setup, most likely!

Further, like the above options, it offers good ventilation options.  You will pay more upfront for hardware cloth over chicken wire, but consider the cost of replacement chickens, predator traps, time investment, and you may also agree that it’s a great upfront investment.

Overall predator-prevention rating: A!

Coop built with hardware cloth

1/4 inch hardware cloth is our chicken coop building material of choice

You can see our homemade coop  is made of 3/4 inch PVC pipe, 1/2 inch galvanized hardware cloth, 2 x 4 treated lumber, plywood , and  2 x 4 inch horse fencing for the barrier at the bottom (we were just too lazy to cut it back, so it larger than 6 inches outside the coop). We also use a 19 x 30-ft. tarp on the top (not shown above), which we adjust according to seasons. We built it about 2 years ago, and it has worked great. We have since the photo above pimped out our coop further…but that’s a different post 🙂

What do you use for your coop and how has it worked out?