Chickens are a wonderful addition to any farm or backyard. Chickens, however, attract not so wonderful critters to your farm or backyard. You may realize that chicken feed will undoubtedly attract mice to your feed shed. But have you thought about the predators that will be attracted to your chickens? Chickens that aren’t secured in a coop make an easy meal for predators like raccoons, foxes and hawks. Here’s how to make sure that your birds stay safe.
A coop is a must have
You cannot keep your chickens safe without a coop. At night, chickens roost to sleep. A chicken that is roosting will not try to fight or flee from a predator. Even the hardest to catch birds are easily grabbed when roosting. This makes them an easy meal for predators. Roosting chickens will draw the attention of raccoons. Raccoons are the most active at night and are very intelligent. They will quickly take out sleeping chickens.
Chickens cannot fly for extended periods of time. They can fly up to lower branches in trees but most of the time prefer to run from predators. Their lack of flight makes them easy targets for quick predators like foxes and hawks. Foxes will openly hunt your chickens during the daytime. Although you may hear squawking, you may not ever see the fox that is taking your chickens. They are also intelligent and will try to avoid being seen by you. Hawks are bolder and will openly grab chickens. Hawks will even grab fully grown chickens and take them off.
The easiest way to keep your chickens safe is with a chicken coop. You don’t have to keep your chickens cooped up all day long, but at least keep them up at night. If you notice a hawk or foxes in your area, keep the chickens up until the predator has been taken care of. When you’re designing or picking out a coop, there are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind.
The coop should have a safe house for the chickens to roost at night. Chickens will feel safest in a coop that is enclosed and impenetrable to predators. Close them up in the coop at night to prevent predators from getting to them. You can encourage chickens to roost in the coop by providing poles for them to roost on. Attach a run to your coop. Make sure that the run if fully enclosed. Don’t leave wire loose and make sure to use a sturdy chicken wire. The run should have a solid roof over the top to prevent predators from coming into the coop through the run roof. Make sure that the walls go down to the ground and that there aren’t any openings. You might even want to bury the bottom of the run’s walls into the ground to discourage predators from digging into the coop.
Chickens make easy prey for hunger critters, so make sure that your chickens have a safe place to go that is predator-proof.