Do You Use Open Space To Protect Your Birds?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by calista, May 18, 2010.

  1. calista

    calista Songster

    Jan 27, 2010
    I have seen so many beautiful coop setups here with plantings around the run and hen house. It brings to mind the endless argument my parents had going when I was growing up on the farm: MOM ("I want to plant flowers and shrubs in the run and around the entire perimeter!" vs. DAD ("Only gives the varmints a place to hide!") They usually compromised on spread straw ONLY in the run and a large open space surrounding the entire barn with no plantings at all. (Meaning Dad usually won each season, and Mom had her flowers and shrubs around the house instead.)

    Removing all potential hiding spots around your coop and run means removing any places that predators use for cover to stalk from. Large open spaces are a deterrent for most chicken predators. (At least that's what I was taught.) Dad wouldn't even allow any stray boards, piles of lumber, or other junk. He kept the grass in the open space perimeter very short and regularly trimmed all the shrubs around it.

    Of course, this is not possible for many backyard setups in relatively small spaces. And our chickens were lucky enough to free-range during the day, where our dogs and geese kept a close eye on their safety; we lost very few birds.

    For those of you who can, do you keep open space like this around your coop and run? Have you cleared out any piles of stuff and kept the grass short? How has it worked for you?
  2. pkw

    pkw Songster

    May 14, 2010
    North Edwards, CA
    We keep everything clear on our property mostly because of snakes but also because we like to have a clean property. I want to be able to see where the snakes are though. I really hate snakes.
  3. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Crowing

    Apr 19, 2009
    I guess it would largely depend on the type of predator you are most concerned about. If you're worried about the stray neighborhood cat, sure, they're much less likely to take the opportunity if they lack cover from which to stalk. But I've yet to see mass losses to domestic cats -- feral or otherwise. Raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bob cats, and their wild night-prowling kin on the other hand, don't care one way or the other. And since during the daytime landscaping provides both cover from aerial attacks and varied environment in which the birds can find food, I see many more pros in having cover than in not having it.
  4. kota1369

    kota1369 Songster

    Dec 17, 2009
    Kansas City, MO
    I keep my yard as cleaned up as I can, but I do have hiding spots for my chickens.
    My yard smells of predators, so I do not get many things looking at them accept my neighbors
    thinking I am nuts. The main worry I have is from above and fortunately my ladies are very
    observant and so am I. I have had to send my dogs out to let the hawks know we are
    here and watching. And have had one stray dog quite interested in them until I let
    my Rottweiler go out and they had a quick discussion through the fence about chickens.
    Also, when I clean up dog poo.... I do throw it on the outside of my fence by the coop and
    run to keep that smell around strong. In the year I have had them they have had one
    cat try to sneak up on them. One of my dogs took care of that way before it started by
    growling and barking fiercely at the window and when I saw what it was about , she politely
    sent the cat over the fence.
    I do not worry about snakes with my ladies as I do not plan on having chicks anytime

    the lady with 4 dogs, 4 city chickens, 4 meat rabbits, 7 kits and a lizard
  5. calista

    calista Songster

    Jan 27, 2010
    Good comments, Olive Hill! Wish Dad were still around so Mom and I could gang up on him with this approach. [​IMG] I'm thinking SOME cover helps the flock as well as helping any stalking predators.

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