Predators can be a nuisance to you and your flock of birds. These aggressive and destructive animals come in various forms and sizes. If you are not careful, you can end up losing your entire flock to them. But before that happens, you need to take drastic measures in time to save your birds. So, what are the 5 best ways to protect my chickens from predators? There are many ways of protecting your birds from predators. The most common ones include fencing your chicken run, keeping your chickens in their coop at night, choosing the most secure site for the coop, and turning to wildlife management.
As a chicken keeper, you need to know that predators come at any time of the day or night. They can launch their assault at ground level, from the sky or by digging. Any type of predator can put your chickens at risk regardless of where the coop is located. Therefore, it’s prudent that you investigate the type of predators your chickens might be facing within your area. Most of the predators are after your chickens, eggs or even both.
Identify the Predator
As mentioned earlier, predators come in different shapes and sizes. So, when you realize that something is eating or attacking your birds, the first step to take is to identify the real culprit. Most of the predators leave behind their tracks and this can serve as the first evidence.
Each type of predator has its own unique way of hunting and feeding. Once you identify which one is attacking your birds, you can take the correct preventive measures at the right time.
Bobcats, foxes, and coyotes are known to hunt after dark. One of their predatory tactics involves hauling chickens away from the scene of the incident to eat them elsewhere. Weasels and raccoons are also night hunters but their predatory tactics are different.
Weasels are known to kill several chickens by biting at their backs while raccoons hunt by pulling their victims’ heads or legs through the fence, leaving the bodies behind. Hawkes and other birds of prey attack chicken from the sky during the day, but great horned owls attack the chickens at night and take them away.
Skunks and opossums will feast on eggs and at some point eat chickens too. Once you get to know the hunting behavior of different predators, it will be easy for you to apply the right preventive measures and keep your birds safe. This qualifies to answer the question, what are the 5 best ways to protect my chickens from predators?
Top Ways of Protecting My Chickens From Predators
The most common chicken predators are rats, skunk, birds of prey, opossum, raccoons, foxes, bears, coyotes, weasels, snakes, bobcats, minks, badgers and fisher cats. All these should be prevented from accessing your chickens by all means. Let’s look at the effective methods of preventing predators from attacking your flock of chickens.
1. Quality Fencing
Quality fencing is one of the best predator management practices you can use to protect your birds. Fences play a very significant role not only by keeping out predators, but also confining chickens in one place to stop them from going astray.
For that reason, you may use wire mesh to construct an enclosure where your birds will be safe from predators. Make sure that the openings on the wire mesh are smaller ( less than an inch) to deny predators a chance of passing through and attacking your birds.
You may as well opt for an electric poultry fencing to keep away ground predators from accessing your chickens. Sometimes you may cover your chicken run using a wire mesh as a way of controlling ariel attacks from birds of prey.
To prevent other predators from digging and attacking your chickens, you need to bury the wire mesh at a depth of at least one foot all around the sides of your enclosure. As you can see, proper fencing can help you keep away predators from the ground and air.
2. Keep Your Chickens Indoors During the Night
Another effective way of protecting your flock of birds from predators is to keep them indoors during the night. This method applies mainly to free-range chickens.
Most of the predators become very active between dawn and dusk. As such, your chickens may become an easy target if left to free-range at night. You can start training them to get inside their coop when dusk approaches.
Watering and feeding your flock inside their coop at dusk. Your birds will gradually get used to staying indoors in the evening. This will be good news for you considering that predators will not be able to attack them once they are locked inside their coops.
The best type of chicken coop that you can use to keep your birds safe is the solid-sided ones. These structures are designed to discourage predators. However, ensure that any small holes that might allow rats or weasels to access inside the coop are sealed up well. This is why I included this in what are the 5 best ways to protect my chickens from predators?
3. Look for a Safe Site For Your Chicken Coop
Careful selection of a safe site for your chicken coop is an effective way of keeping away predators. The site and the area around it should be safe and perfect for your flock of birds. The ideal site should be away from trees or other structures that might encourage birds of prey like owls and hawks to perch.
Also, the surrounding area should be clear of bushes, tall grass, and debris because these features act as hiding spots for predators. A safe and suitable site means that your flock will enjoy free-ranging in an environment free of predators.
4. Good Hygiene
Hygiene is very important not only in preventing diseases and pests but also in keeping away dangerous animals. Keeping your compound and chicken coop as clean as possible. This will minimize cases of feeding predators indirectly with leftovers from the chicken feed.
Make sure that your chickens finish what they are fed. Do not overfeed leaving leftovers for preditors to snack on. Once they are through with their food, you should clean up the excess to avoid attracting predators to where you keep your chickens.
Keeping all your chicken feed in sealed containers is a must. Therefore, any spills on the floor or walls should be addressed promptly. Open dust bins and compost piles should be taken far away from your chicken coop or run. All these are apart of good hygiene practices that you can apply occasionally to keep predators away from your compound.
5. Turn to Wildlife Management
Turning your attention to wildlife management should come as a last resort where other measures have failed. This comes in handy as a way of getting rid of a nuisance animal that is so notorious in attacking and eating your birds.
Such an animal is outrightly considered a predator and the only way of stopping it is taking control measures through wildlife management. In this regard, the predator will be trapped, killed or relocated to another place, far away from your area. Keep in mind that a few types of predators are federally protected, so killing them is considered illegal. This is why this made “what are the 5 best ways to protect my chickens from predators?”
Why is Predation Very Common in the Winter Season? Winter months have witnessed an increase in predatory activities due to changes in temperature. This is the time when temperatures go down and most of the animals undergo a period of hibernation or privation. For them to find something to eat, they must wander far looking for another source of food. And the most likely source of their next meal is probably your chickens. That is why predation is more common in winter months than at any other time of the year.
Is There Any Preditor That I Should Worry About The Most? Any predator around where you are raising your chickens is a threat. In fact, these same predators will spend most of their time lurking about while waiting for the right moment to strike. Animals such as rats, mice, foxes, possums, and birds of prey will most likely try to steal your chickens when they get an opportunity to do so.
Raising chickens is a good investment that you may not want to see it go down the drain. One of the things that can bring this investment to its knees is predation. But if you provide adequate housing or security features such fencing, and training your flock to return to their respective coops at dusk, you will be on the right track to keeping your birds safe, healthy and happy.