Predator Proofing - Page 4
My chicken and pheasant pens are made of six foot high dog runs. Whenever I see a 6x10(usually) dog pen for sale in the want ads, I buy it if it isn't too expensive. Raccoons can't chew through that cyclone fencing. They can, however, climb over it. So at night, I make certain that all my girls are inside the coop. Then I close the hatch so they're safe until I let them out in the morning.
I live in a very rural area of SW Montana and predators, including hawks, are a big problem. Most four legged predators are nocturnal. So I have no problem letting the girls out on my 5 acre yard during daylight hours. Hawks are not a big problem, but if one happens to spy the hens, it will make more than one pass until I discourage it.
Most problems with predators are going to happen at night. So. if you can keep your chickens locked up in a coop after dark, that's the safest way to protect them. Make certain that they have plenty of room to roost.
A couple of years ago, I bought two solar powered units that come on automatically at dark. They have two blinking red LED lights that are intended to make prospective predators think it's another animal. That, in turn, is supposed to scare the predator off. I can't swear that they really work. All I CAN say is that I haven't lost one single pheasant since I've been using them. There are a number of different models available at a reasonable cost on Ebay and Amazon.
Don't waste your time and money on poultry wire like I did. Invest in hardware cloth to protect your chickens. Even groundhogs can break through the poultry wire to get to the chicken feed and this makes holes for other varmints that will kill your chickens. And don't put your total trust in the automatic doors. My experience with the one I bought was when the electricity goes off it can open the door. If this happens after dark, say goodbye to your chickens.
Thanks for the electric door message; I haven't bought one, as I was concerned about possible issues. The power can be erratic in the boonies! I also can imagine a critter getting locked in the coop, or a hen being locked out. I go out and lock them in, and do a head count, every night. Mary
I also use welded wire skirts. I just lay the skirts on the ground, around the entire outer perimeter of the coop, attach it to the vertical portion of the fence with hog rings every 4-6 inches, and tack down the skirt with 6" landscape staples. The combination of the vertical fence and the horizontal skirt looks like an "L," with the horizontal portion on the outside of the coop. The landscape staples keep the skirt flat on the ground, and the lawn will grow up through it and with time will pull it into the ground 1/2-1 inch. You can mow over it, and no digging required. Nothing can dig under this design unless they figure out that they have to back up two feet before they start digging.
2X4" welded wire is very strong, and I use it for the sides and top of all my overnight runs. However, a raccoon can reach right through it and easily kill a chicken. Hardware cloth isn't very rigid, so can't be used easily as a sole barrier, but will prevent a raccoon from reaching through or a mink/ferret/rat from walking through. So each wire has its weaknesses, but when used together, one attached flat against the other, it creates a very strong, impenetrable barrier. When attaching the hardware cloth to the welded wire, I use hog rings every 6-8 inches, both horizontally and vertically.
It is essential to avoid gate fasteners that are easy to open. I previously used a minimum of three different types of fasteners on each gate, hoping that if a raccoon figures out one, it probably couldn't figure out all three. Then I switched to padlocks. As one of my friends said, a raccoon may have intelligence, physical strength, and dexterity. but it is unlikely to figure out that the key hanging a few feet away needs to be inserted into the lock to be able to get inside.
Chance favors the prepared mind.
Chance favors the prepared mind.