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10 Ways to Keep Your Chickens Safe from Predators

Updated on May 21, 2011
Black Penedesenca Tail Feathers after a near miss when a Raccoon Tore through an Aluminum Ventilation Panel
Black Penedesenca Tail Feathers after a near miss when a Raccoon Tore through an Aluminum Ventilation Panel | Source

Nothing is more upsetting than finding dead or injured chickens attacked by predators. It is a huge financial loss of course but it is emotionally difficult for the whole family. When keeping chickens, consider yourself responsible for their well-being - including their safety.

Most of these tips are based on common sense and knowing what predators are likely. I consider myself paranoid about predators getting my birds and try to protect them, but we have had our skirmishes.

Knowing the likely predators in your area and their method of operation will go along way to protecting your birds. Our main concern here in Ontario are Raccoons, Weasels and Hawks. Some poultry owners on farms and acreage may invest in a Guardian Livestock Dog to keep predators away, but this is a huge commitment and not to be undertaken lightly.

Cover Windows with Hardware cloth or Welded Wire
Cover Windows with Hardware cloth or Welded Wire | Source
Use the Spring Hook and Eye to the Left NOT the Simple One to the Right
Use the Spring Hook and Eye to the Left NOT the Simple One to the Right | Source

10 ways to protect your chickens from predators

  1. Do not have a hole bigger than 1/4 inch in your coop, if you can help it. Either space between wood planks over that size or windows. Cover these areas securely with hardware cloth or welded wire square mesh
  2. Do not rely on chicken wire at all for your hens safety at any time. It's only use should be for keeping your birds in during daylight hours
  3. Do not have the coop door open before dawn or after dusk Predators are more likely to hunt at night, though not always. If you cannot manage this reliably, an automatic coop door will solve that problem
  4. If you have any holes over 1/4" make sure there is an external barrier keeping predators and their hands out of your coops
  5. Be aware raccoons can dig, open latches, tear through plastic, wood and metal, and reach through wire to get to your birds.
  6. For daytime protection from large predators, coyotes, neighbours dogs or even bears consider electric poultry netting round the run, it also keeps them out of your vegetable garden.
  7. For Aerial predators, large fake eyes painted in buildings, dummy owls and shiny wire suspended over runs can help keep them away. Having a rooster free-range with your hens will provide a warning system for the flock.
  8. Any dirt-floored coop that the birds spend the night in should have at least a 1 foot deep buried wire perimeter as predators will dig to get to them. Alternatively with a chicken tractor, if the coop part sits on the earth, a hardware wire floor will keep your birds safe.
  9. Only use safety spring type latches, sliding bolts and round knobs for securing openings, consider if a 3 year old can get into it, a raccoon can too.
  10. Use guillotine-type sliding doors for chicken doors, where even the most agile fingers cannot pry their way in

You could keep the chickens in all the time, but that is a shame on a bright sunny day, and many coops are where the attacks actually happen. I prefer to cut the risks and let them have the freedom whenever possible!

Hardware Cloth or Welded Wire Roll for Predator-Proof Coup and Run Building

Ranging in Safety

Mille Fleur and Black Penedesencas Free ranging on alfalfa  inside a 1/3 acre large Electrified Poultry Netting Fenced Area.
Mille Fleur and Black Penedesencas Free ranging on alfalfa inside a 1/3 acre large Electrified Poultry Netting Fenced Area.

Safety Poultry Netting Supplies for Large Chicken Runs

Summary

Don't underestimate the ingenuity and determination of the the night-time poultry predator. Your dear pet chickens are just a row of succulent snoozing birds on the roost ready to be plucked! By turning the above suggestions into rules you never break, your birds can roost safely.

Please share any tips you have or comments on predator proofing

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    • sadie423 profile image

      sadie423 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Great tips for keeping birds safe! If you have a run, you can also string fishing line across it- sort of zig-zagged- to keep hawks and other aerial predators away

    • profile image

      Bob 

      6 years ago

      If you have an Android phone there is a handy free app called "Sunset Reminder" which will routinely remind you to secure your chickens as the sun sets.

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