Whether you live in town or live in the suburbs, keeping your birds safe is a challenging task as they attract all kinds of predators. Nothing is worse than finding an injured, dead or missing flock member.
Here are ten tips that will help you predator-proof your birds to ensure their safety and minimize loss and/or injury:
Ten Tips for Protecting Your Flock
1. Train your flock to return to the coop every night.
If they are raised in a coop, they will naturally return at night to lay eggs and roost after being out all day. Make sure you lock and secure the coop every night.
2. Ensure your coop is free of any holes
Be sure to check the walls, doors, and floors. Cover any openings with a tight, heavy-gauge wire or hardware cloth, since softer chicken wire or plastic mesh screens can easily be chewed, pried apart, or torn open.
3. Raise your coop at least a foot off the ground
This keeps predators such as snakes, rats, skunks from living underneath and stealing eggs, chickens or younger chicks. Also, if you have cats, this allows them to crawl under the coop floor and eliminate any rodent or other small annoying visitors.
4. To deter predators that are diggers, create a 12” trench
You'll want this trench all the way around the perimeter of the coop and bury hardware cloth.
5. Cover the run to protect against climbing or flying predators
You can use fencing, wire, or game bird netting. You can also install a random array of crisscrossing wires overhead to discourage flying predators from grabbing your flock from above.
6. Use 2-step locks on door latches
Spring locks and barrel-style locks deter raccoons and other fairly dexterous animals who are able to easily unlatch simple locks and turn basic door handles.
7. Use a motion-sensor-activated night light
This will flood the run with light after dark will keep most nocturnal predators away from the coop.
8. Keep the run's perimeter free from bushes and plants
Predators such as raccoons are less likely to try to work to get into a closure when they have to sit in the open to do it. You can still plant bushes inside the chicken run as your birds will like the shade and to nibble on the leaves; just keep them away from the perimeter.
9. Keep chicken-friendly dogs around
A dog’s presence — even its urine and feces smell — serve as a natural deterrent for predators. With this said, be sure your dog is trained not to go after your flock.
10. Don’t leave uneaten food in the run or uncollected eggs in the coop
Both will attract rodents and predators. Although rodents will not go after your chickens they can spread disease. Be sure to store feed and water away from the coop or secure them tightly.