Freaking out about leaving chooks out in run

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by whillergee, May 29, 2010.

  1. whillergee

    whillergee In the Brooder

    Nov 28, 2009
    Oakland, CA
    I have four 12-week-old pullets who have been happily living in their coop for several weeks. I let them out in the run only when I'm around to supervise - it isn't completely secure yet, and I'm starting to freak out a bit if it ever will be. Ideally I'd like to have them outside in the run during the day while we're at work, but I worry about predators - we're in a neighborhood that's very close to the open space preserve, so I've seen everything from foxes to coyotes to skunks, not to mention neighborhood dogs (most of which are leashed, fortunately). The run is made of fencing wire on a couple of sides with hardware cloth and rock at the bottom, and plastic chicken wire on a couple of sides. Our back yard is mostly fenced in except for one ungated side, so pretty much any old wildlife can wander in. So - my question is - I feel pretty secure about the ladies in their coop at night, but I'm worried about what might threaten them during the day. Besides dogs, are any other predators typically active during the daytime hours? I sure would like for the girls to have more outside time - they go completely spastic with joy when I let them out!
  2. cerridwenn

    cerridwenn In the Brooder

    Apr 24, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    predatory birds are usually the worst problem during the day. if your run has a chickenwire roof, they should be ok. the plastic chicken wire doesn't sound very safe to me but maybe you can figure something out to strengthen it.
  3. mamachook

    mamachook Hatching

    May 29, 2010
    My run was made of chicken wire staplegunned to a big wood frame. We thought it was perfectly safe but my chickens were about 6 or 7 months old when two of my neighbors' dogs got loose. They actually pulled the chicken wire off the frame, pulling out the staples. They killed all four chickens. [​IMG]
    Now we have an uber-reinforced run with the hammer-in staples and strong welded wire all around the sides and big rocks and logs around the bottom. Four new chickens and so far all's been good. (Also we talked to our neighbors, who were very nice about it, and they're a lot better about keeping their dogs at home)

    So the thick welded wire (is that what you mean by "fencing wire"?) is a lot better than the hexagonal chicken wire and DOGS CAN TEAR THROUGH STAPLES! It's better with the big staples that you hammer in.
    I think the chickens are probably safer out in a run after they're full-grown. Also, I don't have a rooster, but I've heard that if you do have one he can help with protecting the hens from predators like hawks. If you have nearby neighbors with dogs, maybe you could give them a heads-up and remind them to keep their dogs on their own property.
    Good luck!
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I know it's not perfect nor anywhere near Fort Knox quality, but I put bird netting up across the top of my run. It's a fairly large run, as backyard runs go, so I have six-foot poles in the middle of the spans to hold the netting up above my head. That way I can walk around in the run underneath it.

    The bird netting comes in 14 foot wide, 75 foot long rolls, can be found at Lowe's or Home Depot for $19.95 a roll.

    It will slow down a hawk dive, hopefully long enough for the chickens to take cover.

    I know the netting is strong, because my rooster took flight from outside the run (in a panic, one day) and flapped up over the run fence INTO the netting. He bounced on it about 3 times before becoming snagged and trapped. I had to rip the netting to get him out. (And then weave that section back together.)

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