Dog problems...Need some suggestions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by GParkins, Sep 28, 2014.

  1. GParkins

    GParkins New Egg

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    The following is cross-posted to the "predators and pests" board:

    Short version: Our 1-year-old lab is getting into our enclosure and raiding food and eggs. Need a fix.

    Background: Our coop opens into an enclosure. We open the pop door and tie the enclosure door open in the mornings, allowing our chickens to go out and forage during the day. At dusk, they all march up the ramp for bedtime. We have a mixed bag of chickens, including:

    1) 4 buff Orpington hens, one of which went broody. We stuck some fertilized eggs under her, and she is raising...

    2) 4 chicks that are just approaching the pullet/cockerel age.

    3) 4 lavender Orpington pullets/cockerels and 2 silkie pullets/cockerels (still too young to determine sex.)

    We also just adopted a pair of Pekin ducks. I built a separate duck house close by, and there is another enclosure around the duck house. It too is opened in the morning and closed up at night.

    Pelleted feed goes into a PVC dispenser, and crumbles go into a pair of 1-qt. plastic feeders. Duck food goes into a large bowl designed as a horse feeder.

    At night, the foster mom beds her chicks in the nest boxes, which are getting fouled up so quickly that all of the egg-laying is taking place elsewhere.

    We're out chasing dollars during weekdays, so it's nearly impossible for us to catch the lab pup in the act, but she's getting fat on chicken feed and eggs. Also, we're finding feeders all over the yard, after she finishes dragging them out for closer inspection and a taste test.

    One option I've considered is to put an "invisible fence" around both enclosures, as one side of the poultry area is a paddock fence, and it would be relatively easy to bury the antenna wire. I doubt it would take much more than 100' of wire or so. The problem is that it represents a bigger chunk of money than I want to spend.

    I've also considered trying to build a door to the enclosures that would allow the birds to pass freely, but would restrict the dog.

    My final question is regarding the nest boxes. Can I block them off at night, forcing the foster mom to use the shavings on the floor of the coop, which would in turn offer cleaner nests for the other layers? At what age do chickens start roosting?

    Any suggestions would be most welcome.
     
  2. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Northwest Hills of CT
    Your suggestion of an invisible fence will work for the dog, but if he is getting in, then so will all kinds of other predators. So if you are spending money to solve the problem, I would try and solve as many predator problems as you can at the same time. I use electric net fence and a plug in charger. The fence is 48" high, and keeps most land based predators out including dogs, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, skunks etc. Technically foxes, bobcat and cats can jump over it, but I have never had that happen. The fence is not cheap, about $1 a foot, and a charger will run you $50-$75 or so, but it has stopped all predator losses for me for the past 2 years. Plus it is easy to setup, easy to move, and seems pretty durable (assuming you don't mow over it with the lawn mower!).

    When I had chicks being raised by a hen, I put them in their own area, with no nesting boxes. That way they could have peace and quiet from the others, and the others would not be disrupted by them. Plus chicks are supposed to be eating chick food, so you need to keep them isolated for that reason.A large cardboard box could do if you don't have a dedicated brooder area. You can also use a large dog crate. I've done this for baby ducks, chicks and guineas. I attach walls of cardboard that are 8" high or so, and attach them around the inside of the dog crate so they chicks can't escape through the wire cage. I've also used a large 100 gallon Rubbermaid water trough to house baby Pekin ducks. They get too big too quickly for dog crates and boxes!

    Let us know what you decide and how it goes.
     
  3. Just sayin

    Just sayin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 9, 2014
    I think the easiest answer is a small chicken size opening... that the lab can't fit through.

    Our coop is in the barn, and we open the barn doors by day so the chickens can roam the yard with the other animals. To keep our dog (and pig, and goats) out of the barn/coop area we tie it so it will only open 6 inches, and wedge a 2x6 block in the opening so it can't get pushed shut, either.

    Eventually we intend to put a chicken door in the barn that is a more permanent solution, but I haven't decided yet exactly where it should be so we make do.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
  4. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 28, 2014
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    My Coop
    I see a lot of runs designed with a run "pop" door so the chickens can be let out to free range without opening the human access door.
     

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