First of all,I am no expert or claim to be one. I like science backed data. I have read every single book I could get my hands on. I have read every article and instruction I could find in English online. I am not a band wagon type of person nor do I jump into things without feeling informed as much as possible. I currently have a baker’s dz of laying hens . After researching and talking to people including the local extension office I dove in nearly 3 years ago in planning and preparation . My oldest girls are 2 years old There is no vet anywhere near where I am to take them to so when something awful happens I dispatch them quickly and painlessly as possible. I find them therapeutic. They calm me and I will not be cruel and make them suffer.
Ok, now down to business. I wanted to have the fewest issues as possible . I wanted to keep the carnage to a minimum. So I converted a large shed into my coop, 8x12 I think is the size. I wanted about a dz ladies. I cannot have a roo where I live. Although my head hen and best layer crows. Weird, I know but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. I knew I could not afford to use hardware cloth all around the run nor was it feasible to cover the top of the run . It was going to be just too big. 20 x 40 ft. My coop is super sound and protective with solid doors and hardware cloth on windows and vents. Doors have locks and latches. I thought people have free range chickens with no real protection except at night so I ran with that. My run has poultry wire to keep chickens in not predators out. With that said and now people freaking out. I have other things in place that have really worked for me. I thought I would share it here in case someone else was in a similar situation and was feeling like they are doomed or something.
I have hawks that patrol my area daily.I have raccoons ,opossums and skunks that visit my property daily/nightly as well. Not to mention stray cats, coyotes ,and stray dogs. Yes, I had a hawk attack just a couple of weeks after putting my girls in the run. The run is covered with trees and I had hoped the hawks would not notice. But they did. I did not lose anyone, just a few tail feathers. I have implemented some pretty simple things and I have not had any issues since. Every kind of critter gives my coop a wide berth. They still pass through but there are easier targets elsewhere.
1. I have night time solar powered predator eyes that I hang on my fence critter eye level that I move every few days.
2. I have pin wheels that I put up on the fence and a few in the ground . Shiny spinners are scary.
3. Coyote pee. I spray it around the perimeter of my backyard and run.
4. I have created cover for them using pallets,sticks, wood structures from Lowe’s for flowers -now branches and blue berry bushes as well.
5. I added grazing boxes and filled the entire run with wood chips that I got for free.
6. I have red/hot pink ribbon tied and zig zagged across my run( added this after the hawk attack) Hawks need a clear straight line of sight to swoop in and attack . The see red really well which is why I decided to use red. I only used hot pink because the feed store and Lowe’s was out of red when I needed to replace it because of fading. It lasted 2 years. Well worth it.
My coop and run are not cute or fancy. It does the job .