Building Coop --what Protections to Build In ? (Woods of Northern Ontario)

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by BTRT, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. BTRT

    BTRT New Egg

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    Feb 13, 2014
    Hi!

    We are planning for chickens this spring (about 12 laying hens ). We are still gathering info to build our coop and yard. The coop will be in a one acre fenced area (sheep fence-- not intended as a predator barrier, just happens to be there!) and close to the house (for winter electricity).

    We will be living in a wooded rural area -- bear, coyote, wolf, dog, cougar, etc. along with fishers, hawks etc. LOL

    What do you feel are the absolute musts for protection? Is open air better than a true run space?

    Birds will be in coop at night, and daytime there will be a large Bouvier dog in the wider yard, which will hopefully be a deterrent in daylight and for smaller predators put off by her presence and scent.

    Thanks!
    Lori
     
  2. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    My pointers would be:

    1. Plan for way more covered/snow free space. Chickens hate snow and super windy winter, too little space = cannibalism

    2. If you have the money, a hardware cloth peremeter fence, tall enough so the top of the hardware cloth is above snow level, would be the ideal dream. This would keep out the tiny weasel family critters (those will kill every single bird you have in just one visit) as well as keep out all rodents (how much of your expensive feed that the rodents can eat will astound you). So, I do think it would be worth it in the long run.

    3. Do you have raccoons too? The end of this summer I covered my runs with the stiff wire that is used to reenforce concrete. So far, so good! In the past I tried cloth fishnet as well as plastic fishnet. I have high humidity, so the snow stuck to both and ripped it down. I had a large raptor (a hawk of some sort) bust straight through the plastic fishnet and still kill a chicken. The raptors are still all over, saw a Bald Eagle staring at my chickens and ducks just today, but they haven't gotten in. My coop page: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-coop-journey

    4. Do you have just black bear, or also brown? The black bears aren't too bad, your dog should keep them away.

    5. You MUST have wide perches, I use 2x4 and 4x4 with the 4 inch being the perch surface. Without a very wide perch their toes will get frostbite.

    Probably the best coop design for your area is the Woods Coop.

    look through these threads:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/847168/woods-open-air-coop

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/445004/woods-style-house-in-the-winter

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/672804/our-woods-style-coop
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  3. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    I forgot to say, that the reason I asked about if you had raccoons.....

    the wire I use to top my pens is NOT raccoon proof, but then I don't have any.
     
  4. BTRT

    BTRT New Egg

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    Feb 13, 2014
    Wonderful !! So helpful!
    Black browns, raccoons. Yes.
    I will check it all out!
     
  5. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    Brown bears can be bad, especially when they first wake up.

    You might want to have electric. But from what I understand you need to bait electric wire. Their hair is so think, unless you bait it, so they lick the wire, they don't feel it.

    If I remember correctly, you want to use peanut butter for bears. Get a piece of tin foil, crunch it onto the hot wire, and cover the foil with peanut butter.

    Each individual needs to get shocked, usually just once per individual.
     
  6. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin
    The best advice I can give is to decide how much you think you want to spend on building an enclosure because if you want to truly make your coop and run predator proof especially to large and tiny predators alike it can cost a small fortune depending on how big your area is, I am in Northern WI and we have pretty much the same predators you do minus brown bear and cougars, what I did was built a coop that is darn near indestructible, I built a 12x12 shed on a wood framed floor which sits up on blocks, it has 2 windows and a steel door the same as one would put on a home or garage, nothing in this area will get in, if we had brown bear a determined one given some time could likely rip through the plywood walls but it wouldn't be easy, my chicken door is a piece of flat steel which acts like a guillotine on a cable, once I lower it it is heavy enough that a coon is not going to slide it up. My run is just some dog kennel sections with a nylon mesh over the top to keep birds in and raptors out, the snow doesn't bother my mesh it is 2x2 inch mesh and snow falls off easily. This run won't hold up to bear on it's own nor will it keep weasel out but I am not going to spend the money on wrapping the entire thing with hardware cloth and I feel putting hardware cloth on the bottom only is a waste of money as the weasel will just climb up and over it. I also have my entire yard fenced in for the dogs so I can "free range" the birds there if I like while they will still be able to run for the coop should they need to.

    I am confident in this setup to keep my birds reasonably safe, most of the most dangerous predators will come at night and the coop will keep them out, and my run will keep pretty much anything in my area out. If I lose a chicken from time to time oh well, sadly that is the cost of keeping chickens, but I feel my setup is better than many and didn't break the bank.

    For what it is worth, I don't buy into this flat roost thing that so many on here say is required for cold weather, I have never had anything other than natural maple or whatever kind of hardwood pole I can cut right out of my woods, they are natural shaped wood poles, I have never had a chicken have frost bite on the toes on these roosts, and this winter we have had very severe cold, -25 -35 below without windchills and no problems. I also left my eaves on my coop open to allow for ventilation, frostbite comes from dampness, dampness comes from poor ventilation. Don't think you need an air tight heated coop because of your extreme northern location, chickens don't need the heat, they need a well ventilated coop.
     
  7. BTRT

    BTRT New Egg

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    Feb 13, 2014
    Interesting! Thank you -- I really value hearing how different folks approach it.

    We just have black bears, I believe! Auto correct made my bears brown LOL
     

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