Backyard chickens are becoming more and more popular lately. Chickens are quite an easy pet to take care of but there are many other animals living around you that are also intrigued by your chickens. Keeping you chickens safe is vital so that they live long and happy lives.
#1 Know Your Area
Depending on where you live and the season, there are going to be different predators living near or on your property. Knowing what you’re up against no matter the time of year is the first step so you can prepare accordingly.
If you live in the city or suburbs you may think you’re in the clear, but you’d be surprised. Here are just a few you may encounter:
These predators will be sure to find your chickens no matter where you live.
#2 Consider A Rooster
Not everyone can have a rooster because of all the crowing and noise complaints you may get, but if you can, get one! Roosters are there to protect its hens at any cost. If your chickens do run into any trouble, the rooster will alert you and you can get there in time before anything bad happens to any of them.
Another option would be a guard dog. It’s the same idea but it has its drawbacks. On one hand, the smell of a dog alone will deter some predators from attacking but on the other the dog itself might attack or chase the hens. This can be solved by locking up your chickens at night and then letting your dog out.
#3 Collect Your Eggs
Some predators aren’t interested in your chickens, the eggs however are very appealing. By collecting your eggs every morning, you will prevent animals from breaking in over and over again. Keep in mind that just because you don’t see eggs doesn’t mean that an animal is taking them. Chickens may stop laying eggs for various reasons.
Many animals eat eggs, but some reptiles are notorious for crawling in tiny spaces and stealing eggs. Especially notorious is the Argentine Tegu - originally from Argentina and Brazil they are now an invasive species in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. Plus, if you’re keeping chickens for their eggs, you don’t want another animal stealing them from you. This leads into the next tip to prevent predators from sneaking into your chicken’s coop.
#4 Secure Your Coop
Where your chickens sleep should be the safest place for them because they are at their most vulnerable. The first thing you can do is elevate the coop. Having their coop be a few feet in the air will prevent predators from digging underground to get in or vermin from chewing holes.
Next, you want a sturdy roof. Animals will try to climb up and find an opening to squeeze through. Other predators like hawks might try to swoop in. Having a roof or some chicken wire on top of the run will help in keeping them safe. It’s never a bad idea to consistently check if the coop has any holes, even if they seem miniscule you should cover them up because a lot of animals can squeeze through small holes.
Finally, some people also choose to keep motion-censored light at night, so animals get scared and run away. This can be pricey, but if you live in the country where it gets pitch black at night, it would be a good idea to get some.
#5 Bury Your Fence
Yes, I mean this literally. Predators will dig underneath a fence to get to your chickens; having even a few feet of fence underground will deter most animals. Around 3-4 feet should suffice.
Another thing to keep in mind is what kind of wire you use. Chicken wire is great for keeping chickens in, but not so great for keeping predators out. Chicken wire is quite malleable and if an animal wants in, they are getting in. Instead, use hardware mesh/cloth. The smaller the opening the better. Using chicken wire for the run and the mesh for the perimeter would be the best use for these materials.
#6 Isolate Your Chickens
Last but not least, keep you chickens in an open space away from anything. If your chickens’ coop is surrounded by bushes, trees and tall grass, there’s more of a chance that a predator will attack. If your chickens are in a clear, open space, predators will likely not come because there’s more of a chance they will be caught because there is nowhere to hide.
Hopefully these tips were beneficial in keeping you chickens safe and you learned something new. Fences are great, but they only work if you install them properly. Your coop should also be the main priority. It is where your chickens rest and see as their home. Getting attacked in one’s home can be traumatizing. Make sure to do everything in your power to protect your feathered friends.
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A few simple precautions will go a long way in keeping your flock happy, healthy, and whole through the long cold months ahead.
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