Backyard suburban predator proofing

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by hensandchickscolorado, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. I have been reading all of these horror stories and am in the process of building my chicken run.

    I live in a suburban neighborhood. Here we do have fox, racoons, and hawks. However, I've never seen any of these creatures in my yard. I have a small dog that might be very nice fox bait, but he's never been bothered.

    I'm wondering if many of the attacks I read about happen when people have chicks out at night or live in more wooded or rural areas? Even though, I am trying to build a really secure run.

    Here is my plan. Will it be enough for a backyard? My auto mechanic laughed at me for using hardware cloth; he's had chicks in the neighborhood for years and only uses chicken wire.

    Plan: Run is enclosed on three sides by coop, wooden fence, and garage wall.

    I have dug down about 9" and will bury hardware cloth along the wooden fence; it'll come up about a foot and I'll screw it in to the fence.

    I will frame the front of the run, add a door and enclose the entire thing with hardware cloth and also dig down & bury.

    Coop is raised 2 feet and hardware cloth wraps the bottom (buried also).

    I will put chicken wire on the top (only because I can't afford more hardware cloth. The area is about 8 x 12).

    There are branches that extend over the coop. The nesting boxes are on the non-run side of the coop...I have a tricky hook & eye hook with a spring...but that doesn't seem like enough on that exposed side.

    All of this occurs in my fenced in yard.

    Am I doing enough? I'm worried about the roof part. I also don't know what to buy for the nesting boxes as far as a lock goes. What is secure enough??

    Or, am I being ridiculous--is a raccoon going to climb on my coop or garage and jump down into the chicken wire right here in the 'burbs?


  2. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    You will very definitely find raccoons in urban and suburban areas; I wouldn't be surprised to hear about them breaking into a Manhattan penthouse! Foxes are less likely, but not impossible. Hawks and owls are everywhere.

    Chicken wire on the roof is much better than on the walls. Is the yard already fenced?
  3. 2overeasy000

    2overeasy000 Songster

    Dec 1, 2010
    I assume you get a lot of snow there. Don't know if the chicken wire will be hardy enough to not collapse.
  4. Yard is fenced. I am worried about chicken wire and snow.

    What else can I do? Even if I use $500 worth of hardware cloth, that might come down in snow as well.

    Here is a pic of the area, although now there is a coop right in the middle of it! Run will be on the right hand side of coop.

    It's dark out or I'd go take a pic of it now...

  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Maybe instead of chicken wire you can put welded wire across the top. My run is 12x16, and it held up quite well with our unusually snowy winter. It's less expensive than hardware cloth, sturdier than chicken wire.
  6. Chickmate

    Chickmate Songster

    Nov 10, 2009
    SE Michigan
    I personally would never use chicken wire anywhere but inside the run to section it off, it's just not strong enough to keep coons out. You need to use hardware cloth on the top as well or put something over or under the chicken wire to make it strong enough to keep them out. At least use several layers of chicken wire. I would also put more secure locks on besides the hook and eye, even the spring kind. Raccoons have little hands that work just like ours and they can open almost anything. What I have on my coop in several areas are the hinged metal latches that you can put a clip in like you find on a dog's leash to lock it. I don't think coons can get them off. Sounds like you've thought of everything else, especially adding the hardware cloth to the bottom of the coop and fence and burying it. Good thinking! With the exception of using chicken wire and better locks I think you have it pretty safe for your girls! Don't know if you can see the lock well enough to know what kind it is, but here's a picture of it on the door. Sorry, that's the best picture of it I have.

    Yes! bobbi-j is right, I meant to say welded wire, not hardware cloth. I used welded wire on my coop and it's very strong and not as expensive as hardware cloth. My run is covered with welded wire and then clear plastic roofing material as well. It held up under our Michigan snow last winter, but I have center posts and beams supporting it.


    Last edited: Jun 9, 2011
  7. JulieNKC

    JulieNKC Crowing

    Sep 25, 2010
    Kansas City
    I think there are more coons in suburbs than in the country, more food for them here. I see hawks all the time here, had one swoop down on my girls a few weeks ago. Luckily I have about a dozen robins nesting in my yard and they all decided to be brave and chase him off.
    Maybe you could put a few extra posts in your run for support for the chicken wire roof? You could use wooden beams and attatch perches for your chickens, more for them to do.

  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Quote:This is similar to my setup. I have 5 beams - one on each end, of course, and 3 spaced in between them. I had to put 4"x4" posts under the 3 center beams after our last wet, heavy snow load cracked one in March (there was a knot in the wood, so it was a weak spot). Otherwise, it held up very well.

    JuleNKC - I agree that coons are more of a suburban problem than rural. I think there is enough "natural" food for them out here in the country, and they're more wary of humans because they don't have to learn to live with us.
  9. KellyandKatie

    KellyandKatie Songster

    Aug 29, 2007
    Kitsap County, WA
    It sounds like you have a great coop and run in the works, I am the same as the above folks and don't trust actual chicken wire to racoons, they test for weaknesses

    raccoons that were never in your yard before will hear, smell the birds and the feed and get drawn in- fox coming into a fenced yard is not really a concern over here as much, but it would not surprise me.

    I think suburban racoons are worse than the country ones we had back home. Back on the farm if you turned on the light, they scattered -- here if I run out there screaming at them, they just look at me like 'what lady, what are you going to do about it' they are so bold in the city - yuck yuck yuck

    We are in the suburbs, I know my foe the raccoon well, and I have lost young birds to rats-- and have had older birds attacked by the &@#($ neighbor cat. I can not keep the neighbor's cat out of my yard, and that blasted thing thinks stalking my birds is an awful lot of fun. The cat has hurt two or three of my birds, and I know it is capable of killing them and will if I don't come up with something.
    It's a lot of work protecting a suburban flock- but worth it [​IMG] Good luck!
  10. Zonoma

    Zonoma Songster

    Mar 15, 2011
    Northern Kentucky
    Related question:

    Can't I just 'Fort Knox' my in-town coop and make the run reasonably protected against daytime predators? I have horse-fencing around my coop and dug in to fox and dog-proof it as well as bird-netting secured along top to raven, owl, and hawk proof it. To coon proof the run seemed a excessive considering the expense when they are nocturnal and my birds are locked up at night.

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