There’s nothing more devastating than waking up to chicken carnage. Chickens are so wonderful, sometimes it seems like every creature wants to eat your hens. Unless it’s time for the stew pot for an old layer, chances are you don’t want them eaten! Make predator proof chicken coops when designing you birds’ home to keep your ladies safe.
Want the best of Farming My Backyard’s chicken wisdom compiled into one easy to read source? Check out our book, Backyard Chickens: How To Have A Happy Flock!
How To Predator Proof Your Chicken Coop
There are myriads of animals that think chickens make a nice snack, but the most common ones in a city setting are going to be raccoons, rodents, and dogs. Thankfully, 1/4 inch hardware cloth will stop both of them. Make sure there are no holes in the coop larger than 1/4 inch to keep mice and rats out.
Staple down your hardware cloth across vents and windows, then drill strips of wood across the edges. I’ve had raccoons move concrete blocks to get to my chickens. Those things are strong and can rip staples right out!
Raccoons are also smart. Basic latches aren’t going to stop them. If you can put a padlock on our chicken door that should stop them for sure, but at the very least use a latch that requires several different motions to open. Here are the type of latches we use on our coop door. To discourage rodents it’s best to have your coop raised off the ground, but make sure the space underneath doesn’t become a cozy home. It seems to be a delicate balance of height there. I think the perfect chicken coop for me would have a concrete floor, but that’s not happening any time soon.
Nothing is Foolproof
Perfect predator proof chicken coops only works if you remember to close the door! I forgot to close our coop door one night and woke up suddenly to the hens screaming in panic. My husband rushed outside into the dark and looked inside. It was too dark to see, and I ran for a light and passed it to him.
He flashed the light inside and was eye to eye with a raccoon. I think it was the scariest moment of his entire life. There was actually an entire family of raccoons in our yard, but miraculously we didn’t lose any hens that night.
Predator Proof Your Chicken Run Too
Daytime predators are most likely going to be hawks or dogs. Put sturdy fencing around your property (or at the very least your chicken run) to deter dogs. Placing bird netting over the top of your run will protect your hens from hawks.
If you can’t do that for the whole area, have a more secure inner yard where the flock can spend time when you aren’t available to watch, and let them range farther with supervision. Also, if they have trees, or bushes to hide under they can avoid being snatched by a hawk.
What types of chicken eating critters hang out where you live?
Want To Grow Fruit In The City?
You can save money at the grocery store without a time intensive garden or committing to raising livestock. Sign up for the Backyard Orchards email course today!