Predator Proofing for New and Existing Coops

By BuffOrpington88 · Jun 26, 2016 · Updated Aug 21, 2016 · ·
  1. BuffOrpington88
    Keeping chickens predators away from chickens can be extremely difficult. However, a secure coop is a good start. Here are some ideas on how to "predator proof" your coop and run.

    Predator Protection for the Coop

    One way predators such as foxes and dogs can gain entrance is by digging under the coop. The best way to prevent this is to pour a cement floor in the coop. Another solution is to raise the coop off the ground. However, there is still a concern of an animal chewing through the flooring. A double layer of plywood with hardware cloth is effective protection, and is a fairly simple adaptation for an existing coop.

    A raised coop can prevent digging predators

    Windows are an important source of ventilation in the hot summer months. However, they can also be a point of entry for predators. Predators such as weasels and snakes can get in through an incredibly small space, so all windows should be covered with ¼ to ½” hardware cloth. It is also important to cover any holes in the coop for the same reason.

    Hardware cloth over windows

    Providing secure latches on all doors, including nest boxes, is very important. Raccoons are able to open simple latches, so a sliding latch will need extra protection. A hasp latch secured by a carabiner is simple to open for people yet is secure from predators. If there is also a concern over theft, a padlock will suffice.


    Predator Protection for the Outside Run


    Ironically, chicken wire is not the best fencing for housing chickens. The holes in chicken wire are large enough to let in small predators such as weasels and snakes and the fence is weak enough to allow larger predators access. The ideal fence is ¼ to ½” hardware cloth. Digging should also be a consideration in the run. To prevent predators from gaining entry, hardware cloth should be buried 12-18” deep and at least 6 inches out in an “L” or “J” shape, and then covered with soil. If the run has no roof or netting, the fence be at least 6 feet tall, which should be enough to prevent chickens from flying out and predators such as foxes from jumping in.

    A model of buried fencing


    The top of the run should also be covered in order to prevent attacks from hawks and the like. At the very least, netting is required to prevent attacks. A net of baling twine can also be used over the top as a deterrent. Hanging CDs or wind chimes may also deter flying predators.

    Hanging CDs can scare hawks

    Other Considerations

    Free Ranging

    Free ranging has many positive aspects, but is also very dangerous. An entirely open yard leaves chickens vulnerable to flying predators. So, it is important to provide bushes for chickens to hide under. If there are no bushes in your yard, you can provide other hiding places like a few 50-gallon barrels cut in half lengthwise and placed on the ground. It is also advisable to keep chickens inside before it gets dark and predators are more active.


    Snakes will eat eggs (and chicks) and rats will find spilled feed, so it is important to collect eggs daily and ensure that the area around the coop is clean and that feed is stored in a rat-proof container.

    Guard Animals

    Guard animals can be used as a deterrent to predators. One of the most common guard animals is a rooster. A rooster will attempt to protect the flock and will likely fight or attempt to alert the hens of danger. A guard dog is also a possibility, though training will take some expertise. If not properly trained, a guard dog can become a danger to the chickens.

    Nighttime Protection

    Nighttime is the most vulnerable time for chickens as they are practically blind in low lighting. Additionally, many predators are nocturnal, so it is very important that from dusk to dawn, chickens are in a secure coop. If you are unable to close the pophole to the coop every night, an automated door can let the chickens out in the morning and shut them in at night. There are many predator deterrents on the market. Some products such as Nite Guard are meant to mimic the look of another predator’s eyes, which is said to deter other predators. A motion-activated light may also help, and a game cam can be useful in identifying a predator.

    Thanks for reading! :)

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Recent User Reviews

  1. asphaltwarrior1
    "Predator proof is in the pudding"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Nov 4, 2018
    Great detailed advice
  2. BlueHenDel
    "Very helpful!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 8, 2018
    Lots of good info here. Another deterrent I have read says to use laundry sheets because they smell odd or human-like. Maybe helps to cover chicken smell.

    I use a lot of heavy old fence posts and place them against vulnerable areas of the coop, too. They are barricaded in. And I pray a lot.
  3. Macchickenman
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 1, 2018
    Wondering about laying 36” of hardware cloth on ground on all sides pinned to ground and screwed to base of run fencing. Let grass grow thru. Will that suffice?
    BlueHenDel likes this.


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  1. TheWickedChicken
    @Macchickenman I have the same set up except we use large rocks/cinder blocks to keep the hardware cloth down. It’s not pretty but it does the job, no predators get in. As long as the hardware cloth is tight against the ground (no gaps) that set up should work just fine. Make sure to check it often to see if predators have been digging around or pulling on it. If they are just reattach securely to the ground.
  2. GossChicks
    I’m really concerned about letting my 5 week old chicks outside during the night. For a week or so we’ve kept them outside til dusk, then inside our house to roost in cage. We have a small prefab chicken coop/run on our patio and put hem in the run when we’re not home. Free range when home. We live in city but have cats, possoms and raccoons in neighborhood. Are there any less expensive ways to protect small flock?
  3. Ducksandchickens
    Never thought about hanging cds. Good idea!:)
  4. Lady of McCamley
    Thank you for writing this. Nice article.
  5. FlyWheel
    I like the motion activated lighting, do they make solar charging ones, My coop is too far from the house for practical electrical connections.
      Srod79 and shartnett5 like this.
  6. BuffOrpington88
    Thanks guys! You are so nice!
  7. Whittni
    Good job.
  8. Henriettasmum
    Lots of good tips here. Thanks.
  9. henny1129
    Nice article!

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