Beware of the Predators…

…because they are out there and their hungry!

I’m not kidding, you do need to think carefully about how to manage the predator population because predators are probably the biggest reason for chicken loss in backyard flocks. Lots of animals prey on chickens and once they have your address they will lurk and lurk, just waiting for their chance to get a good meal.

Our coop is heavily fortified by design.

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We have a chicken wire enclosure over the top of the run that keeps most critters out quite effectively.   I’ve often heard that raccoons can tear right through chicken wire but we haven’t had that happen yet.

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Several inches of the wooden boards at the bottom of the run are buried in soil.  Michael says that he’d bury the wire on the sides twelve inches deep if he were to do it again.

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We lock the door to their house with a clasp at night and the small chicken door is locked most nights as well.

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We have a fenced in open area that’s accessible to the chickens from the covered run but we reserve that, along with yard and garden ranging, for days when we’re outside keeping watch and serving as deterrents.

We’ve seen a bobcat, coyotes, raccoons, foxes, skunks, hawks and even fisher cats here at the edge of the woods.  All of these creatures love to eat chicken for dinner. We’ve lost a few hens to hawks and on one occasion a raccoon squeezed through a small gap in the screening of the run and killed one chicken while literally scaring another to death. To this day we’re not sure what saved the rest. I’ve spent many hours watching hawks circle overhead or sit on top of the run just waiting for their chance…

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If you were a chicken, wouldn’t you be scared if this hawk was watching over you?

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Here’s a fisher cat that we trapped before the chicken days. We had no idea of what it was when Michael and the kids found it in the trap but it’s hiss was vicious!

So, we don’t let our chickens range much without supervision. We also keep a pretty close eye on the edge of the woods, we have a lot (a LOT) of foot traffic in our yard which prevents some predator presence and we design our chickens’ space to be as safe as is reasonably possible. I think that’s why we loose more chickens to old age than to predators.

DSC03819It might be why they look pretty content most of the time too.

Or that could be because of the oatmeal… but that’s another post…

Enjoy everything!

Michele

7 Comments

  1. We had a Red Tailed Hawk kill one of our Buff Orphingtons last month. She tore my hens head right off the body. She was huge, her wingspan looked at least 5 foot. Took me all day to round up the rest of our flock. They scattered and hid in the bracken. We let the chickens free range even through there is a problem with predators. Our puppy, she’s 9 months old now and saw the whole thing happen, she now guards our flock. The chickens still free range but are very much aware death can come from above. I’ve chased the hawk off 3 more times through this last month. She hasn’t been able to kill another chicken! We have racoons, foxes, coyotes, and cats we have to watch out for. I found turkey’s make really good watch animals too, although they are so noisy. They constantly watch and warn of danger. We all have learned a big lesson. Our chicken house is predator proof, no worries at night.

    1. The hawks are brutal, and they come out of nowhere sometimes. It’s good that your chickens are watching for them along with your dog. Our dog is a cockapoo so he’s not real helpful 😉 Do you have a rooster? We would if we could but our neighbors are too close for the noise of a rooster or probably even a turkey.

      1. Yes we have a Cuckoo Marans, he looks all mean and full of business but is a sweet guy. I also have a Buff Brahma, but he is just a fat boy. After we lost our hen we found our Cuckoo Marans hiding in the blackberry bushes….ha! Fat Boy didn’t come out of the Vine Maple until dusk. I need a new rooster but it’s really difficult to find a nice rooster that is also aggressive towards varmints. Usually you get an aggressive roo that attacks everything including humans. My husband and I live out in the foothills of Springfield Oregon. My roos can crow all they want!

  2. Living on a river, we are home to an array of wildlife including hawks, coyotes, racoons, and at least 2 large black snakes. I won’t even put a bird box up in the yard! They wouldn’t stand a chance.

  3. We did bury wire in the ground and covered the entire bottom so there wasn’t an opening anywhere and haven’t lost any to predators. We’ve found prints and holes where different animals have tried to dig under to no avail. Better safe than sorry. 🙂

  4. I may have to lay rebar in cement to fortify a coop if I want chickens again I never want to loose them to an evil weasel who dug under my coop and killed them all so helpless they were trapped inside 😦 I must learn all the ways in which to have them here safely with me not only for their eggs which are simply amazing but for their company as they pick the earth and enrich our soil. We have all the wildlife you mentioned and then some It is crazy up here and I don’t want them to be sitting DUCKS 🙂 Thanks for all the ideas.

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