If there’s one thing a new chicken keeper needs to worry about and plan for it’s the fear of having your new coop raided by preditors. Lines of plucked chickens in the supermarket can look very appealing and some of the visitors to your garden will doubtless look at your birds with that same “which one will I have for my Sunday roast?” level of interest. With the proliferation of urban foxes and raccoons, even the city dwelling chicken farmer must be wary of losing a prized bird or six to ravenous mouths.
Here are a couple of ideas you can use to make your chicken coop more secure and hopefully lessen the chances of your hens ending up on another's dinner plate.
1) Know Who’s Coming to Dinner
Different countries have different problems when it comes to potential predators. What the Fox is to the British chicken keeper, the Racoon is to the American. Wheverer you are in the world, it is definitely worth studying up on the local wildlife so you can identify those animals that pose a threat to your coop. For example – did you know there were millions of wild Raccoons in Germany? We think of them as an American thing, which is where they come from, but Germany also has a huge population of the animals.
2) Train Your Chickens Well
It is easily possible to train your chicken to associate their fortified coop or henhouse as a place of safety. This way, when they decide to roost for the night, they will automatically return to the coop rather than settle themselves down outside it and potentially expose themselves to predators. This is especially important if you allow your chickens to roam outside their coop freely.
3) Properly Fortify Your Coop
Chicken Wire is a poor defence. Though it’s great at keeping Chickens in, it’s not so effective at keeping predators out. Carnivores can get into your coop from any angle, so make sure your coop is covered from above incase of attacks by hawks and other flying predators. You also need to keep out those that might try to dig under your fence. Extending your coop with a barrier of heavy cloth, concrete or wire 6-12 inches under the structure is a good idea.
4) Employ a Guard Animal
Having a bodyguard for your hens to act when they are out during the day is a great idea. Roosters are a natural choice for this role as they are larger and more aggressive then hens and will, almost suicidaly, attack predators trying to get at their flock. However, you need to learn how to handle them as an undisciplined Rooster may come to view you as a threat to his flock.
Dogs are another alternative and possibly a tad more human friendly. Naturally, however, you need to pick a breed that is not likely to become aggressive and attack the chickens itself and training will be required.
5) Lock them Up at Night
Most Predators are inactive during the day. Therefore, before dusk comes, make sure all of your ladies are suitably rounded up safely in their coop. Consider putting a proper lock on the door as some predators, especially racoons, are quite adept at manipulating simple locks and pins.
Have any Chicken coop improving tips? Lets us know in the comments!