Step by Step Guide to Repairing your Chicken Wire Fence

Your guide to any type of repair a chicken wire fence might need - from rusted or broken wire mesh to damaged fence posts! Read our guide to become your own DIY hero.
Renee Lewis
Renee Lewis
Last Update:
May 30, 2024

Chicken wire is a great choice for inexpensive and easy to work with fencing material. It is versatile and can be used for many types of outdoor home improvement projects - from farm fences surrounding chicken coops to garden fences.

Maintaining your chicken wire fence is important, especially if you use it for its original purpose: keeping critters away from your chicken coop! Even if you do not have actual chickens, it is always a good idea to keep your fence maintained and looking its best. Good maintenance ensures that your chicken wire fence will last as long as possible!

Common issues that crop up with chicken wire fences include rust and corrosion of the wire mesh itself, loose or broken wires somewhere in the fence, and damaged posts or other supports that put the integrity of the entire fence at risk. All of these problems can be fixed by yourself if you have the energy to DIY it! Fence installation companies can also do repairs on these types of issues. They can also let you know when it is time for a replacement fence as well when your old chicken wire fence has run its course!

Understanding Common Problems with Chicken Wire Fences

Although most chicken wire fencing material is stainless steel, and stands up well to rust and corrosion, eventually it will begin to break down. It does not last forever! The protective film on the chicken wire over time does break down and in time it will rust. Galvanized or PVC coated chicken wire fencing is more rust resistant than stainless steel. But over time and with enough weather any chicken wire will eventually see some rust.

Luckily, when that happens the fence repair is fairly simple and easy! When chicken wire rusts or corrodes, it usually happens in one small area first. When you notice that, cut out the rusted pieces of chicken wire and weave in new wire from one unbroken side to the other unbroken side.

The same fence repair steps apply to any instance where your wire fence has broken wires - whether it's from rust, corrosion, or any other reason.

If you have a loose or sagging chicken wire fence, there are a few ways to diy repair your fence. The first thing to try to tighten up a loose fence is a tool called a fence stretcher. Place the tool’s jaws on the fence wire and ratchet the tool to tighten the chicken wire. Put the opposite end of the tool on an anchor point like a fence post and gradually increase tension until you reach the level of tightness you are looking for!

Pliers can be used to tighten wire fences, in particular barbed wire fences, when the fence has not gotten that loose and you can still fix it without a fence stretcher. Simply apply the pliers to one end of the loose fence wire and twist until your desired level of tightness is achieved.

Another common maintenance issue with chicken wire fences is damaged fence posts or fence supports like t-posts or stakes. Like a big rusted out hole in your chicken wire, a damaged fence post compromises the entire fence’s integrity. It also means the fence is likely not standing as tall as it needs to be to keep critters in or outside of the fence. So repairing fence posts as quickly as possible is recommended!

We will go into detail on the tools and steps to do a DIY fence post replacement on your chicken wire in the sections below.

Tools and Materials Needed for Repair

chicken wire fence repair tools

To do a DIY fence repair on your chicken wire fence, these are the tools you will typically need. If you want to shop all of these in one place, check out our online storefront.

The types of repair materials you will need for your fence repair will vary by type of damage obviously. But some common materials for chicken wire fence repairs include replacement wire - whether entire sections or wire you can use to weave through the chicken wire fence, staples, nails, fence posts, and zip ties.

As far as safety equipment, we recommend at the minimum protective gloves and safety goggles. There is just a lot of sharp wire around when you are repairing a chicken wire fence, and getting stabbed by it and your hands cut up is not the best way to spend your weekend. Speaking of getting stabbed, if there is sharp wire that is potentially moving around, protecting your eyes is also a good idea, so wear safety goggles if you have some available.

Preparing for the Repair

For the most efficient fence repair process, do not skip the first step of preparing for the repair! First, walk up and down the length of the fence and check for spots that need repairs. Is there rust anywhere? Are there any broken fence wires or fence posts? Is the wire fence sagging or loose in some areas? You will want to know all of this up front so that you can be prepared with the necessary tools and materials. You may also want to make some measurements - for example, how long of a section do you need replacement chicken wire fence material for?

Another thing that will help you later is to clear the area surrounding the fence repair for easy access. That way you will not be tripping over bushes or having to move around objects every time you change angles to try to repair your chicken wire fence!

Step-by-Step Guide to Repairing a Chicken Wire Fence

Chicken wire fence repair

Step One: Remove Damaged Sections

The first step is to remove any damaged sections on the chicken wire fence. Use wire cutters to cut and remove any rusted and corroded wire, or wire that is broken for any other reason. You will want to get this out of the way so that you can make your repair!

If you have a damaged fence post as well, that will also need to be removed from the equation. Detach any chicken wire that is still attached to the damaged fence post and then dig out the post itself.

Step Two: Install Replacement Wire

To replace a section of chicken wire, measure out a section of wire fence to match the length you will be replacing. Use wire cutters to cut the new wire to fit that space. You can attach the new wire to your existing chicken wire fence by using zip ties or gauge wire or other types of wire ties. Next, use a staple gun and fencing staples or nails to attach the new wire to the fence posts. '

If you are replacing a small section of wire mesh to fill a hole you have cut out, crimp the new wire around unbroken chicken wire with pliers to splice it together. A good spot to attach the new wire to is the bottom of one of the hexagonal shapes. Be sure to attach the new wire securely to your wire fence in an unbroken section on each side of the hole. Then, trim off any excess wire with wire cutters.

Step Three: Securing Loose Wires

In this step, you are looking for sections of poultry netting that have begun sagging over time. Loose wire fences can lead to issues with structural integrity of the entire fence, so if you see a section that is sagging you should fix it right away.

Use a fence stretcher and attach the jaws to the wire fence. Attach the other end of the tool to the fence post and adjust the tension until the chicken wire fence is tight again. Secure the fence in place using zip ties, gauge wire or other types of wire ties. Afterwards, for a more permanent attachment, use a staple gun and fencing staples or nails.

Step Four: Replacing Damaged Posts

To replace a damaged post, the first step is to dig out the old fence post. These may be wooden posts secured with cement like you would see in a wood fence. They could also be t-posts with no cement for extra strength security. Either way, there is usually about a third of the post underground, so be prepared for some digging!

Once the old fence post has been dug out, you can replace it with your new fence post. As mentioned before, sometimes fence posts are secured with cement, so make that decision and be prepared to live with the consequences. With no cement, especially on the corner posts at a minimum, your fence posts may rise or shift over time easier than if they were set in cement.

Step Five: Reinforcing Weak Spots

Now that your wire fence has been fixed, with missing or broken sections replaced, loose or sagging sections tightened, and any damaged fence posts replaced, it is time for the very last step. If you identify areas that need reinforcing, you can overlap chicken wire in those sections to add strength. If you have larger animals and need extra protection this is a good way to offer that as well.

Tips for Preventing Future Damage

Chicken wire fence tips

The best way to prevent future damage is to carry out regular inspections and maintenance on your chicken wire fence. Walk along the fence line and take a look at your fence every now and then. If you catch a problem while it is still small, then you may not have to do a major repair or replacement later. For example, if there is a small section that has begun to rust, you can cut it out and replace that small hole rather than waiting for the entire section of fence to fail and needing to replace it in its entirety.

Since rust is the main culprit in much fence damage, applying rust-resistant coatings to your wire fence is a good way to help lengthen your fence’s lifespan. Galvanized coatings or PVC coatings are two commonly used options that increase the durability of a chicken wire fence. Galvanized coatings on a wire fence can make your chicken wire fence last 25 years, and with a PVC coating they can last even longer.

If your chicken wire fencing was not buried underground, but sits on top of the ground level, then adding a no-dig defense barrier is a must if you have chickens. Critters will try to dig underneath chicken wire fences to get to the chickens. These barriers are a great way to stop critters from digging their way under the fence. You can also add an electric fence or electric wire barrier outside of the regular chicken fence as an extra layer of defense.

And as discussed above, keeping a good tension in the fence so that it stands up straight and does not sag down, allowing animals in or out, is important. That is one thing to keep an eye on regularly, and to take care of early.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I inspect my chicken wire fence?

You should keep an eye on your chicken wire fence every day as you walk along the fence line or do yard work if you have chickens. Letting your fence be broken for even a day could allow critters into your chicken coop.

If you are using it as a garden fence, then inspections can be less often because there is less at risk. Check fence posts and make sure there are no loose or broken wires at least quarterly no matter what type of fence it is. And about twice a year, clear all vegetation from around the bottom of the fence to make sure everything is still looking good.

What is the best type of wire for repairs?

Stainless steel wire is the least expensive wire for chicken wire fences. Galvanized wire is a little more rust resistant and PVC coated wire is the most rust resistant - and most expensive. It depends on the purpose and size of the repair, and your judgment.

If it's a small area that just needs to be reattached, maybe stainless steel or even wire gauge is good enough. However, if you are replacing an entire section, and this is a farm fence that is going to do a lot of work for you, you will want a good quality wire fence. Galvanized steel is a good choice, or perhaps the same type of wire as the rest of your fence to match.

Can I reuse old wire for repairs?

As long as the wire does not show any signs of rust or corrosion, you can use old fence wire for spare parts and repairs.

How do I prevent rust on my chicken wire fence?

You can apply a rust resistant coating like a galvanized wire or a PVC coated wire.

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