Expert Advice Needed On Run & Predators: Please Clear This Up!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Laurajean, May 30, 2010.

  1. Laurajean

    Laurajean Slightly Touched

    Apr 2, 2010
    New Hampshire
    Okay, I'm sure there are similar posts all over this board, so thank you in advance for your patience, but I had a couple specific questions I wanted to ask about my situation.

    I was on another type of board asking about advice for keeping raccoons out of my trash (I'm deep in the woods & just moved here recently). I was shocked to see that almost everyone said "there's nothing I can do". I mentioned that I plan to buy a BRAND new good shed, and many said they'll get into it anyway. I don't understand how, if it locks, has no windows, and is new and solid. But they all insist the raccoons will get in anyway.

    Well, somehow in the conversation my chickens came up and all heck broke loose. I have chicks in the brooder now and still need to build the run. They were saying really discouraging things like "you need to pick one, chickens or raccoons", "you can't keep chickens if you have raccoons" and joked around saying things like "I hope your coop is REALLY secure", yawk yawk.

    Now I'm not only discouraged about my trash, but down right scared about my chickens. They have me really worked up. I don't have any building experience, but I was going to have a friend help me, and my plan was to completely enclose the hen house inside a run, which I planned to build with 2 x 4's and hardware cloth on all sides, including the bottom, using those extra deep staples. But obviously there will need to be a coop door to the run, and so now I'm afraid they'll just squeeze under that since I obviously can't connect the bottom of the door to the ground.

    Can people please give me some basic tips on what measures I can take to construct a simple but VERY SECURE run? Does what I described sound sufficient or are there other measures I should take? I would like to connect the run to my shed at one end, for added support and it would give the end a wall against the wind. I'd show pics but none of this is even started yet. How many of you agree that the chickens are hopeless with raccoons around? What is your experience with this? I would love to see RUN PICS, especially pics from those of you who have raccoons that lurk, but that have been unable to enter your run.

    Tips, pics & advice on building a simple, raccoon proof run would be very much appreciated. The chicks are getting bigger every day and I need to get moving on this! Thank you so much for any advice & pics you can offer. [​IMG]
     
  2. aprophet

    aprophet Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,799
    14
    209
    Jan 12, 2010
    chesapeake Va.
    Quote:I trap proactively during trapping season I traps as many raccoons fox and possum as I can get rid of as a result I don,t see predators all summer. This is part of the reason I keep Quail the pens are easier to make secure . I trap for a coupla folks here where I am who have birds , One guy has an old screen door with storm windows (plexiglas) he dug down 1-2 foot at the threshold part and did hardware cloth/rebar rod buried thing he has a lot of chicken wire but down low he has hardware cloth. it took him watching 2 of his peafowl having their heads bit off by a fox to call a trapper ( me) I am of the belief that exclusion is half the battle, trapping and dispatching predator populations (not an individual animal) is the other half it seems to be working for me and a few others here good luck with your birds.
     
  3. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,156
    52
    218
    Jun 21, 2009
    Jacksonville
    I live in rural Jacksonville and my neighbor lost her flock to raccoons. So I built a CATAWABE coop I purchased plans online and it cost about 113.00 for the first one and the second one was around 135.00.
    [​IMG][/img]

    My chickens go up the ramp at night and are secure. They have plenty of air and they are encased in wood. I raise and lower the ramp daily and I have seen evidence of raccoon action around the coop but so far so good. My neighbor caught three raccoons in traps the same week. I think this is a good design because I can lock them in at night but I think any design where they are inside and locked in is good. Hardware cloth helps but raccoons are mightily strong and have those pesky little hands.

    My neighbor found snakes in her nest box - I have not - so far but she leaves her eggs in there and generally I collect em as soon as the girls lay them.

    Do yourself a favor and paint the inside - easier cleanup also if you are really concerned get some electric fencing - the raccoons are not going to be bothered if it is too difficult and they will go after something easier. I would put my coop inside of a fenced run too. There are no guarantees. I had a fox take off with my rooster and I got a glimpse of him in the fox's mouth and gave chase and I never saw evidence of the fox again. He dropped my roo.

    Hope that helps.

    Caroline
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,520
    145
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    First, remember that a majority of people over on SufficientSelf are also *here* on this board... [​IMG]

    But, anyhow, as to your actual question: Notice it is only one (1) person telling you that killing raccoons is a necessity if you are going to have chickens. Many, many other people manage to keep chickens pretty successfully without having to reduce raccoon populations (although it is possible there may be some areas where there are SO many raccoons and they are SO hungry that population reduction is very helpful, as well).

    Personally I would have to agree with the posters on SS who say that a shed is not the best place for trash, simply because it is WAY easier and cheaper to build a totally raccoonproof trashcan bin than it is to build a shed that raccoons can't get into despite the enticement of food. You have two options, metal grating (not fence mesh) and a welded metal frame, or strong construction of 2x lumber kept in excellent condition. It is not that hard to do, you jsut have to build it WELL and have your hardware all screwed (or, better, bolted) into ample thickness of lumber.

    Another thing that will help you a LOT is to keep the organic stuff (smelly, compostable stuff - food scraps, etc) in your freezer til trash day.

    As far as a chicken coop goes, it is certainly possible to build pretty raccoon-proof coops. Lots of people have them, me included. It is still best to lock your chickens indoors at night; and even if you DO, I would suggest making the run as secure as possible if you know you have lots of raccoons around. But sure, you can perfectly well keep chickens in an area with raccoons.

    As a brief summary (you should read more posts here about predatorproofing), I would suggest things like: don't use chickenwire at all, instead use VERY WELL AFFIXED hardwarecloth or 2x4 (or smaller) very heavy gauge wire with hardwarecloth added to the bottom 2-3' and anywhere else reach-through is an issue. Either bury the bottom of the wire 18" into the ground or run a 2-3' apron on (or just below) the surface of the ground, well pinned down and well affixed to the base of the run fence. Make all your carpentry tight, use at least 1/2" plywood, screw into thick wood so things can't be pried apart, use multiple locks if necessary to prevent the bottom corners of the door being 'sprung' outwards, and use raccoonproof locks (padlocks are best). Honestly, it's not all that difficult, most people on BYC have raccoons around (some of us have LOTS of raccoons) and with suitable construction you can be in good shape.

    So, don't be discouraged, you most certainly CAN do it [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  5. ellieroo

    ellieroo Chillin' With My Peeps

    582
    1
    151
    Mar 22, 2008
    Check out the coop pages they can give you ideas and something to do for months [​IMG] Lots of good ideas to keep coons out ! [​IMG]
     
  6. Laurajean

    Laurajean Slightly Touched

    Apr 2, 2010
    New Hampshire
    Quote:Yes Pat, I'm aware that SS is a sister board. I'm not saying anything bad about the posters, they just got me worried about my run construction so I came over here to ask the chicken oriented question, since there are far more chicken people here. I thought one suggestion about building a sturdy 2x4 trash bin was a good idea, but another poster said raccoons will chew and claw right through wood.

    Thanks for the run advice. I'm not sure exactly what you meant by a 2-3' apron, but I will try doing some searches on that to get pics of what you mean. I figured that in addition to attaching hardware cloth to wood with deep staples, I could then add wood strapping on top of the stapled edges to further resist them pulling it off.

    Glad to know you think it CAN be done. Logic was telling me that many people MUST be able to keep chickens with raccoons around. I just need to learn the ropes of what they are doing that works! Thank you.[​IMG]
     
  7. crzychickenlady

    crzychickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    466
    0
    149
    Jan 31, 2007
    My suggestion...If you have a small amount of chickens, try going smaller on the coop and run. If you make a good solid run, using 2x4's and heavy duty hardware cloth, that's the start of your security. When you build the coop, you want to have windows for air flow in the summer time, use the heave duty hardware cloth on these as well, as far as the door goes, you will want to make sure that it latches tight and you want to use padlocks on the latches. Remember, you can't go too far on security! Your main worry of raccoons will be at night and this is when you should lock your birds up in the coop. If you are planning to have the coop completely inside the run, this will make security even easier, cos you will now have a double barrier, ie, the run, then the coop.

    Don't get discouraged by what a few others say, you CAN have chickens and you CAN keep them safe, you just have to think like a raccoon!
    Raccoons are like 4 year olds, they can turn latches and move things easier than any other predator.
    I had a raccoon attack on my birds a year or so ago, My run wasn't secure and it got in, pried the door open to my aluminum shed that I was using as a coop and drug my roo out into the pen....luckily, I heard him screaming and got out there in time.

    I built a new coop/tractor this year, with this in mind. I'll share a few pics with you, so you can see some security measures you can take.
    In this pic you can see that the latches to the run door are clipped, with the clips facing in, so it's harder to undo them for little raccoon hands (I may even pad lock this as well). Inside you can see that the pop door is secured with a bar to keep it from being opened from the outside, IF something should breach the run. I just built this, so I may even add heavy duty hardware cloth OVER the pen itself.
    [​IMG]
    Here is the big door, for access for me to do cleaning and such, I installed 2 latches to make sure the door closed tight, the twist latches give a tight seal and the padlocks will keep out raccoons and humans alike.:
    [​IMG]
    This shows the heavy duty hardware cloth over the windows, that will be framed in with 1x2's as well:
    [​IMG]

    For your trash, you can build a run like enclosure for your trash cans, just make a square frame and fence it off, have an enclosed top that can be raised and latched and padlocked shut.
    Raccoons do not rule the world and you CAN outsmart those buggers!!
     
  8. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    I'm not recommending lessening your vigilance, but remember raccoons are just a problem to be solved.
    I've had raccoons and chickens in my yard for the last 6-7 years. The raccoons have never bothered with the chickens, and the chickens have never really minded the raccoons. I won't say they are friends, just fat lazy suburban raccoons, that would rather eat cat & dog food. They haven't shown up this year with their babies yet- I kinda miss them. They have also never messed with the unsecured garbage or the open bage of pellets, peanuts, BOSS, scratch, or birdseed.

    Imp- The squirrels on the other hand [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2010
  9. mediazeal

    mediazeal Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,476
    15
    181
    Feb 26, 2009
    You need to build fort knox of a coop is all.
    Raccoons will open anything a 5 yr old can open, which includes anything that doesn't take a key lock

    I made an 8 by 16 coop on a cement pad. It works as a coop/run. Half is a 3 sided coop (California weather) and half is 3 sided hardware cloth. It's very sturdy with studs every 16" and double hardware cloth on the bottom.
    plywood and shingle roof.
    double locks (high and low) on the door
    lock on the eggbox
    all fitted to the same key

    Raccoons, possum, skunk, neighborhood dogs have all visited but no one has been able to get to the chickens.

    I free range them at my own risk (well really at their risk I guess) when I am around to watch for hawks.
    I have lots of bushes for them to hide under.

    You could make yours even more secure if you have a very strong coop that you can lock them into on a cement pad etc but 4 sided and then a secure run (covered) for them during the daylight hours.

    Mine is perfect for me.

    Here's the build photos and here's the inside painted with chickens.

    I think for your garbage shed you may need to wrap some hardware cloth and add a key lock. If it is too hard they should move on.

    Good luck.
     
  10. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,156
    52
    218
    Jun 21, 2009
    Jacksonville
    An Apron of wire is where you did a trench at least 18 inches deep and have that be the base of the wire. The reason for doing that is to make it more difficult for a predator to dig under the wire and get inside with the chickens. Most animals are not going to try to dig that deeply. My neighbor who lost her chickens dug that trench and set her wire in cement to be sure it was sturdy. She is not planning to lose anymore chickens to raccoons - the three she trapped she told me they relocated them a few miles away.
    Caroline
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by