The World's Most Unusual Farm Ideas
Foxes, opossums, raccoons, stray dogs, coyotes, owls, hawks. Yes, chickens have many enemies. Several species of snakes will raid the chicken house to steal and swallow eggs.
A wire cage with a roof keeps out predators from above. If the space between the wires is small enough, the greater part of their foes are defeated. Things like raccoons may climb about on the outside of the enclosure, but if it sturdy you will have nothing to worry about.
Nothing, however, will keep out the snakes. Chickens will kill and eat smaller snakes, but the large ones tend to end up in the nest box consuming eggs.
One day I thought of something that I have never had opportunity to try. What if the chicken enclosure was a pen within a pen? What if a person combined an outdoor dog kennel with a chicken cage? A square inside a square. The chicken coop will be the smaller square and will have a roof. The dog kennel will go around the outside of the enclosure and will create a loop around the chickens, so that the dogs can run all the way around the coop on all sides. This gives the dogs plenty of room to exercise, and nothing will cross the barrier to reach the chickens, provided your dogs are large enough and tough enough for guard duty. It would have to be some sort of hound dogs, I thought, something that likes living outside and likes to hunt, so it will feel right at home living this way. And at least two, I thought, not just one, because one would be lonely by itself.
But then I thought, "What if manure and feathers from the chicken enclosure roll under the fence into the dog enclosure before I get a chance to do the daily cleaning?" So I solved this problem, too. It would need three fences, with an empty space between the chickens and the dogs. Three gates. In the empty space maybe one could set out some pots of garden plants, which wouldn't mind being protected from deer by the very same dogs.
You are welcome to use my idea, if you wish, since I don't know when I will have time to try it.
Bantam hens are very small. What if someone kept one or two in the house in a small animal cage? We should be sure the space between the wires of the cage is narrow enough that the hens cannot get their heads stuck. To keep them smelling clean and fresh, small animal bedding could be used and changed daily. Not something the hens would eat and choke on. We would have to select bedding that wouldn't hurt them if they peck around in it. Maybe corn cobs like this.
These are ideas I've gathered and collected both from experience and from listening to other farmers and ranchers:
- Keep geese with your ducks to help protect them from predators.
- Keep donkeys with your sheep or goats to help protect from coyotes, stray dogs, etc. Other animals sometimes kept with sheep or goats for this purpose include llamas and alpacas.
- Keep cats in the stable to help soothe and calm horses.
- Keep guinea fowl in the garden to help keep it naturally free from bugs. According to various independent swap meet guinea sellers they will not eat your plants.( I don't know if I'd rely on that one. I think a guinea might eat a tomato. They are great at nabbing bugs, however. I used to have a small flock of guinea hens that were so tame they'd land on my arm! Most are wild and hard to catch unless you raise them from chicks.)
- Keep any hoofed animal on your property to help deter snakes, as the vibrations from their hooves tend to disturb them.
- Keep fish in your pond to help prevent mosquitoes.
Here are a few more ideas:
- Pour castor oil on a molehill to help make the moles leave.
- Pour fireplace ashes around your garden to help keep pests away.
- Brush your dog and strew the collected hair near your roses or other plants to help scare off rabbits and deer.
- Collect leftover coffee until you have enough to fill a tank sprayer, then spray down your garden plants to help deter insects.
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