Chickens in the Woods?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by CritterHill, Feb 3, 2008.

  1. CritterHill

    CritterHill Songster

    Feb 3, 2008
    SE PA
    Hello there! I just stumbled across this forum today. I am debating starting up a chicken coop this year - never had them before, so I am reading everything I can get my hands on.

    But before I decide whether to take the plunge into the world of chickens or not, I wanted to get some opinions about keeping the birds in my locale.

    We live in a large tract of woods. There is a hawk's nest in one of our trees, we routinely see raccoons and possums on our porch cleaning up the leftover cat food at night. We periodically see fox on our property though every few months the fox hunt comes through (several dozen large hounds) and scares the fox away for a while. Did I mention the several dozen large hunting hounds that come through our property periodically?

    In short, I'm worried about predators. Even if I fully enclose the coop and run and only let them range in the yard and garden if I am out with them, do they stand a chance? Can you really make a run strong enough to keep all the bad guys out?

    We are also surrounded by public game lands, but I can only hope that the human hunters can distinguish between a chicken in a run and a wild pheasant...

    Opinions? Would I just be dooming the little feather heads to be someone's lunch in the middle on the night? Or if I wire it up tight, can they be kept safe? Anyone have experiences with chickens in this sort of environment?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. LinckHillPoultry

    LinckHillPoultry Songster

    Jan 17, 2008
    predators are always something to be concerned about. Personally, I wouldnt set my coop in the woods. But, as long as your coop is secured and you try to make it as "predator proof" as possible I'm sure you shouldn't be loosing a lot of chickens. I'd make a shed coop, and close them up in it every night. Like I said predators are always a concern, and you will more then likely loose a chicken here and there to a predator, but things like that happen, and there are plenty of people on this form that have their chickens in a little patch a woods.
  3. tiki244

    tiki244 Flock Mistress

    Jan 1, 2008
    I think it depends on how bad you want chickens-you will probably have to spend a little more money on your coop and run, make sure it has a top, etc..
  4. CritterHill

    CritterHill Songster

    Feb 3, 2008
    SE PA
    Ok, let me expand the question a bit. Would other larger types of fowl be better suited (peafowl, geese, ...)? Or are they all pretty much just snack food?
  5. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    They are all snacks to the larger predators. Just make a secure coop and keep excess feed off the ground and they should be fine.
  6. hinkjc

    hinkjc Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    I live in the middle of the woods attached to state game lands and have never lost a chicken to a predator. We also have nesting red tailed hawks who watch our birds, but have never taken any. We alternate free range days for our large fowl and keep bantams in enclosed flight pens for outdoor activities. I think you can protect them..just have to dedicate the time and effort to it and they will be fine. I also feel it is important that all coops are secured each night (closed up) so that nothing can get to them when they are most vulnerable.

  7. Corey NC

    Corey NC Songster

    Mar 28, 2007
    North Carolina
    Let me add that most foxhounds are well trained not to go for anything but the fox. Most of them any ways. [​IMG]
  8. chickenfeed

    chickenfeed In the Brooder

    Oct 22, 2007
    North Central Iowa
    I too live in the same environment. I'm starting this spring with a shed being converted into a coop. I'm hoping to be able to fortify it well enough to keep all the predators out. I have all you mentioned plus a pair of eagles and owls. I feel the fresh eggs will be worth the effort. If I do lose a chicken, I'm just stubborn enough to find a way to keep it from happening again. I say Go For It!!! Good Luck!
  9. chicknmania

    chicknmania Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    central Ohio
    We live in the woods too and are surrounded by country, for the most part. We have lost some to predators, but we have a reasonably secure place for them to roost at night, that we can close up against predators. It helps a lot. Get a rooster or two,they will help protect the flock, and if you have a dog that you can trust around chickens, that is a big help, also.
  10. willheveland

    willheveland Songster

    Jan 29, 2008
    southern tier,NY
    I live in the woods with my yard hollowed out in the middle.We have woods between neighbors.My biggest problem has been with neighbors dogs.
    I have trapped coon and opossums here.I set traps at their first sign.When I am home I let my chickens run free that's when I have seen neighbors dogs carry off my chickens.It makes me mad that living where I do(in the woods) my biggest predator is the domestic dog.
    Build sturdy pens and you won't have too much trouble,it's trial and error.But reading alot of posts will help you.
    Start looking through those chick catalogs,tis the season.good luck Will

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: