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Chicken Coop Predators

Updated on September 29, 2015
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Chicken Coop Predators

Chickens have a precarious life at best. If their masters are not out to eat them, something else is. Chicken coops must be built substantially enough to keep out the predators because there are always some around. Arm yourself with information! A good way to avoid attacks against your chickens is to know which animals found in your area are potential predators. You know what the first rule of war is: know your enemy! Different types of animals are deterred by different methods.

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Foxes

Foxes are skillful hunters and they especially love chickens. A chicken in a poorly constructed coop or open pen is a buffet meal waiting to happen for a local fox, and if they're successful at getting a meal once you can be sure the crafty little guy will be back. Foxes can resemble medium sized dogs, but a good indicator is that you're dealing with a fox is the bushy tail.

They're pretty intelligent (we didn't get the phrase 'sly as a fox' from nowhere), so measures to prevent them must be taken into consideration. They'll look for weaknesses-- small cracks, openings, anywhere they can squeeze their way through. If you've got foxes, your chicken coop should be a fortress. You can try to frighten them away with alarms and lights set up with motion detectors, and roosters will also alert you when there’s danger.

Dogs

Besides the fox, what are the other chicken coop predators that a farmer has to contend with? Many wild creatures will kill chickens if they are given a chance, but one domesticated animal presents a problem, too. That is the family dog.

Not every dog will kill a chicken; in fact, many can be trained to be good look outs to help ward off predators. But some dogs will always have the desire to kill poultry. Most often, a dog that kills the chicken does not eat it, and it is assumed that it does it for the thrill. There have been dogs destroyed for this back in the day when eggs and chickens to eat were critical to the survival of the family.

If you get a new family dog, keep him chained up around the chickens until you’re confident he’s trained well enough. A good fence is also the way to keep out any dogs that might wander onto your property, such as strays or your neighbor’s escaped dog.

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Coyotes

Somewhat similar to a small dog in build, these chicken coop predators will usually grab a chicken at the neck, which is their signature method of attack. They are wily, but probably not as smart as the fox. The best way to entice one is with bait, such as meat or live rabbits or chickens. Chicken feathers, eggshells, or items that look like eggs will also attract the coyote.


Coyotes travel in packs and if one problem animal is eliminated, the rest of the pack will sometimes relocate to avoid further confrontation. It is not considered possible to eradicate this animal so preventative measures are imperative. Electric fences, motion sensor lights and alarms are a good way to try to frighten them off.

The best way to avoid coyotes, though, is to avoid leaving out things that attract them. These are scavengers and they prefer an easy meal so they’ll be drawn to your property if you leave out pet foods, leave garbage uncovered or leave your compost piles accessible.

Raccoons

Like many other chicken coop predators, the raccoon is nocturnal, providing it with a better opportunity to do its dirty work. It is omnivorous and eats rubbish, insects, fish, birds, eggs, rodents, and, of course, it loves chicken. The raccoon is a major threat to some wildlife, and it has made some wildfowl extinct. Raccoons will gladly take up residence in your home or out buildings. They carry countless diseases including coccidiosis, which is deadly for chickens.

The raccoon is another one of the chicken coop predators that has special talents. It can better use its paws because it has opposable thumbs like humans, and this allows it to get through doors with simple latches. It is best to use a padlock to keep these varmints out, or a system with more than one complex latch or lock.

Live traps are good for catching raccoons, and bait should consist of marshmallows, chicken parts, corn, sardines, bacon, or any other foods scavengers love.

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Small Predators

Badgers, opossums, skunks, minks, weasels and other small animals can all be deadly if hungry enough. Most of these are night hunters that slip in the hen house through loose boards, cracks under the walls, or climb up and over chicken wire.

To ward them off, repeat this mantra to yourself: there is no such thing as ‘too small’ a crack. What a fox or raccoon could not crawl through, a weasel could easily manage. The most important step is to mind your trash, compost heap, pet and livestock food and other things that would attract these animals. But alarms and lights on sensors are less likely to pick up their movement, so it really comes down to being diligent about keeping the hen house sealed from top to bottom. A perimeter barricade that goes deep in the ground around the coop is a good deterrent to avoid burrowing attackers. If you find they’re getting in anyway, set up some traps.

Hawks

Most predators are likely to attack at night. The hawk will attack in broad daylight when the chickens are out of the coop. Usually, larger hawks will attack. No matter how strong your fencing and hen house, you’ll find you can only stand by and watch helplessly if a hawk manages to swoop down.

Even worse, hawks are a protected species, and it's illegal to kill them-- you cannot shoot them, use poison or use traps that might hurt them. Even if you're trying to protect your chickens, you can be fined or put in jail for killing a hawk.

If hawks are a problem in your area, then you can't just fence in around your chickens; you have to fence the entire run above them. A web of fishing line created across the top of the run will also deter these birds of prey.

Other ways to avoid hawks are fake owls, scarecrows and windsocks hung around the chickens, but you have to move them around every few days or the hawks will be smart enough to realize things that never move are not a threat.

Hawk predator kills chicken

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    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Thanks for the feedback. I think I am going to go ahead and find some photos to go with it since it may help a few of those who need it.

    • shai77 profile image
      Author

      Chen 5 years ago

      Thanks Dr. Mark. I think that's a topic that might interest people who are thinking about or new to raising chickens, or people with chickens who are considering getting a new pet dog. Maybe not something a lot of people would look for, but valuable for those who really need it.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      I actually wrote a hub "Five Dog Breeds that Like to Kill Chickens" but I have never published it yet since I did not think there would be any interest. What do you think?

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