Predator-Proofing the Chicken Coop
* Any doors - including those on nesting boxes - must have locks. But not just any locks. Racoons, in particular, are amazingly adept at opening locks, so make sure it's a two step lock, like the one below.
|This lock requires pushing to one side and lifting.|
* Put hardware cloth securely over any openings in the coop. Snakes, weasels, and some other predators can get through tiny holes. Use hardware cloth (not window screens) over ventilation windows or any other openings not secured by a door. Don't use staples to attach the hardware cloth; it's too easily pulled out by racoons and other predators. Use screws and washers instead.
|A raised chicken coop.|
* Some chicken owners also like to use a strand of hot wire around the bottom of the coop. Predators who try to get under the coop will receive a shock that will deter, but not kill, them.
* Lift the coop off the ground by at least a foot. This discourages rats, snakes, and skunks. (And if you raise it a few feet, the chickens will enjoy this shady area on hot summer days.)
* Always make sure your chickens are locked up in their coop no later than dusk. A little before dusk is better, since many predators come out the second dusk occurs.
Predator-Proof the Chicken Run
|This chicken run is covered not only by netting, but by the cover of a tree.|
* Don't leave food in chicken run overnight. This just invites predators nearby.
* To protect chickens from hawks - and from the mingling of wild birds that might spread disease - cover the run. This can be done with bird or deer netting, or with hardware cloth.
* As additional protection from predators, and to give the chickens some shade, consider covering part of the run with vines (of a type that aren't poisonous to chickens), or place under the limbs of a tree.
* Consider a hot wire for the run, as well.
|A simple chicken tractor.|
* Consider putting free range chickens in an ark or moveable run. To make it even more secure, you can put a hot wire around the bottom edge.
* Offer chickens cover, where they can flee hawks and other predators. Good cover includes bushes, piles of branches with small openings for chickens to run into, and dog houses.