So you want your own chickens?
Well there are plenty of critters that want them too.
Here are my tips to keep the chicken flock loss free.
Many of us have notice chickens wandering around in front yards while driving through the country. Maybe your neighbor’s free range chickens come to visit your yard too. Well these free ranging chickens are fast food for predators. Here is a list of some of the many hungry creatures ready to eat unprotected chickens and eggs.
- dogs, feral or otherwise (sometimes a neighbor dog will attack as a game)
- opossums (yes they will eat chicken eggs and young chickens if given the chance)
- skunks (same as opossums but they pack a stinky kitty punch)
- birds of prey (death from above)
- weasels (little buggers get in anywhere and kill for the thrill)
- bears (the hard hitters of the coop raiders)
- wolves (where applicable along with wolverines, fishers, etc.)
- wild cats (mountain lions, bobcats and even feral cats)
- snakes (mainly eggs and small chicks unless you live in Florida)
- alligators (plausible in southern states)
Did I miss any predators in your area? As you can see not only humans love to eat chickens and eggs. Sometimes these predators might be attracted more to the feed but will eat whatever they can catch. What can you do against so many hungry menaces?
Watch your chickens
Do not free range your chickens unsupervised. If you are not watching the predators certainly are. A hawk flying over will grab a chicken. A coyote or fox will gladly take many chickens if given a chance. At night owls, raccoons and other night raiders will work to rid your coop of tasty chickens. Always watch your birds when they get yard time.
Exclude the predators
Always have a secure location to lock your birds away from predators. Learn what predators are in your area by talking to neighbors and other chicken owners locally. An influx of a certain predator might make your coop defenses lacking where against other critters they might be useful. Make as many barriers against intrusion into the coop itself. Raccoons can reach in and grab birds through chain link fences. A couple of chicken wire panels over that area will deter the grabbing paws. Bears need heavy built coops to keep them at bay while weasels need fine mesh to exclude them. Fill all holes or entry areas where anything can squeeze in (or where your birds might get out too).
When the critters are out hungry in force your best bet for protection from ground attack is an electric fence. Even a hot wire or two at the right heights and distance apart will cause problem animals to pick someone else’s chicken coop over yours. Face it predators are looking for an easy meal and not a hot foot or nose. A radio playing or even wind chimes might spook the predators also.
Cover that run
Cover your chicken run with chicken wire to protect from aerial attacks. Why give hawks and owls a free meal?
With the easy availability of game cameras there is no reason to be blind of stalking predators. With many varieties and styles of game cameras one can choose from static viewing or step up to live emails to their smart phone when pictures are taken. Sneaky predators have just gotten their cover blown with this affordable technology.
Traps and guns
Sometimes the predators will still take no for an answer and become chicken killers and egg thieves. In this case a commercial trapper can be of valuable service. If you have experience with trapping and hunting this might be your time instead to shine and save some cash in the process. Be sure to check all federal and state laws and be sure to be properly licensed before going after the problem makers. Remember a quick internet search or a call to the department of natural resources can save you many headaches. They might also share some helpful tips too.
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