Keeping chickens affords us with so many benefits that it’s easy to overlook the downside. Predators. Yes, our beloved feathered friends have many enemies. And they are watching. And waiting for the right time to search and destroy.

Now, I happen to love all creatures. I know they, too, have to eat. But when it comes to our chickens, we’d much prefer they not be a part of the menu. So just who are these predators of chickens anyway? Here’s a list…

  • Dogs and cats
  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Raccoons
  • Opossums
  • Hawks
  • Owls
  • Snakes
  • Bears
  • Skunks
  • Mink and weasels

And not to forget, some humans rank up there among the worst. Because they should know better! And not be evil.

If you’re not sure what predator is invading your chicken’s domain, there will be some clues. For example, dogs usually just want to have fun. They want to play and our chickens end up being mauled to death.

We have to train our dogs not to play and tease the chickens. On the other hand, they make good guard dogs in keeping other predators away from the chicken coop.

Different predators leave their own unique clues. I’m not going to get into all the signs of destruction each and every enemy leaves behind. (You can find that by doing a search online.) What matters is that whatever these predators do, the results are the same. Our chickens have been traumatized and left for dead! And we are always devastated with the results.

So we must go on the offensive and do everything in our power to protect our chickens from the horrors of their would-be assassins. So just how do we do that?

Think “solid and sound”. We must construct the most secure housing for our poultry. If we don’t, we are allowing ourselves and our chickens to be at the mercy of the attack. And the attacks can come from the air, the ground and even underground. So we have a lot to cover.

First is the chicken coop or hen house itself. It must be well-constructed. And since 1/5 of the available wall space in the house should consist of windows, you’ll want to have the windows covered in small mesh wire on the inside.

As to the outside of the hen house, it must be clear of any clutter. If there is anything piled around the coop like lumber or any kind of junk, it makes a great haven for snakes and rodents. Keep the grass mowed around your chicken’s sancturay as well. Snakes and rodents like to get at the eggs and baby chicks. So that’s the reason for a clutter-free environment.

Also, predators don’t like moving across open spaces. The more things you have around the chicken coop and run, the happier they’ll be.

Probably the most important and crucial rule to follow is to make sure your chickens are all in the safety of their house at night!

Now aside from their fortress, the next most important thing is the fencing. This is the do or die element in the safety of your flock.

Free-ranging chickens is ideal. But whether you’re doing that or keeping chickens in a smaller space, fencing is the bomb. And if you want to be the best chicken keeper around, you’ll go for 6 1/2 foot, 1/2 x 1/2 inch, 1/2 ounce chicken wire or poultry netting with single-strand electric fencing at the top and bottom. If you place the fence posts into concrete, so much the better.

Why electric fencing? Because it works at keeping chickens safe! The top fencing should also form an overhang and be 4 inches away from wire. This prevents any predators who like to climb any chance of getting through.

The bottom electric fencing wire at the base should be at least 4 inches high and 4 inches away from the chicken wire. There are many predators who will do their best to burrow underground to get their chicken dinner.

For this reason, the wire should run about 18 inches underground to avert the diggers. A wire apron that faces outward for 18 inches all around the chicken run is a great idea. This can be covered with grass or paving tiles if you want to get creative.

One thing that cause predators to go crazy is if they can actually see the chickens. To this end, you could install a solid barrier all around the base of the run so they can’t see in.

Many people are installing wireless infrared alarms to deter any human predators. Heat sensitive flood lights and electronic pest repellents are also a good investment. Predators will shy away from light and noise and go elsewhere.

Enemies such as foxes will be very patient. “Crazy like a fox”, right? They will bide their time and wait for the opportune moment to strike. And the fox can dig like a dog and climb like a cat. Coyotes will even tunnel under the pen if they think they can be successful in invading the domain.

Raccoons are cute. I like them. But I don’t want them in the hen house. Since these bandits have opposable thumbs, they can even open certain latches! Don’t blame people when the wily raccoon is the culprit.

Then there are the hawks. They will swoop in with the air attack. The only way to prevent these disasters is to install netting all above the chicken run. Or take your chances. The choice, of course, is yours.

When you think of all the trouble that can befall your flock, you may get discouraged. Please don’t. A little extra care is all it takes to keep them safe. You decide how far you want to take the preventative measures. The main thing is to be aware of the predators of chickens and what they are capable of.

In this way, you’ll be better able to protect your friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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