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How predator savvy are chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by cupman, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. cupman

    cupman Songster

    Apr 12, 2011
    Portland, OR
    I am building a large run that will hold a lot of chickens, I noticed the smaller the gauge got the bigger the price got. I'm not the richest man in the world so I was looking at buying some fencing with the bigger gaps but I first wanted to know how dangerous it was. All my chickens are too big to fit through any of these holes, however, raccoons hands and arms could probably reach in several inches on the sides. Seldom do we have day time raccoon sightings but it's there. I love chickens dearly but sometimes question their intelligence, will they know to steer clear of a raccoon that's standing on the edge of the fence? will they approach him? The run is going to be fairly wide, at least 12 or 15 feet so the chickens won't be cramped by any means. I've only ever lost one chicken to a predator and that's cause he hadn't learned to use the coop just right yet and was sleeping on the floor of the run near a fence. Coon plucked him right out and made a meal of him. Would hate to have that happen again.

  2. florida lee

    florida lee Songster

    Apr 6, 2011
    all mine seem to like to lay right next to the fence and when scared will jam up against the fence usually in a corner. Not good...Yesterday I saw them racing to the far end of the run and pressed against the wire fence....when I investigated there was a black snake in the run. But I use hardware cloth so no problem. hardware cloth 1/2" holes is expensive, around here the best price I could fine was $60 for 36" x 50' roll at a local Ace Hardware.
    If you use wire with holes big enough for a Raccoon to get his arm and hands in you may want to run hardware cloth just along the bottom, 3' high should be high enough where the raccoon couldn't reach your birds. On my big run I have chain link, and will be running hardware cloth along the bottom as soon as funds permit.
    They don't stay in run at night, locked safely in the coop. And my dogs are supposed to be on duty patrolling at night and during the day....but they sleep mostly during the day, its been so hot lately.
  3. redsoxs

    redsoxs Crowing

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    That's a really good question. I know they make a lot of racket when they see a hawk, my dog or my cat. But my dog and cat walk right up to them and vice versa. So, for my chickens at least I think they are aware of potentially dangerous things, but since those things have never hurt them, a wily raccoon could walk right up and grab one.
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    During day birds will stay clear of fencing when coon or other predator in sight. Potential problem at night if for some reason bird gets near fencing, they seem unable to see predator. I think their night vision is not as good as ours.
  5. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Crowing

    Apr 11, 2011
    Most of my chickens are pretty good about keeping an eye out for predators, and running away when they spot trouble. Unfortunately, others are dumber than a box of hair.......
  6. Redcatcher

    Redcatcher Songster

    May 7, 2010
    At My Desk!
    I think it depends on the individual chicken and the predator. The flight instincts are bred right out of some of them, which can sometimes save their lives. With the threat of a predator, a chicken is faced with a number of life or death decisions in just seconds. Awhile back, I wrote about the massacre of the "porch chickens". These birds were outcasts for one reason or another and were chased away by their own flock. They began hanging around my garden and they roosted on my porch at night. Every night I would have to put them back into the chicken house until the next morning when their day began all over again. Anyway, I was up later than usual and they were attacked before I had a chance to get them and bring them in. The smartest, quickest and gamest of them all panicked and ran off the porch in the dark. She was a goner, while the others never budged from their usual roosts. They survived. That being said, the panic mode is what usually sets off the predatory instincts. Often times a stray dog can mingle with a flock and nobody gets hurt until the first squawk and wing flap. Then it is all over. Other times, going into full flight mode is the only way to escape.
  7. mulewagon

    mulewagon Songster

    Nov 13, 2010
    I have a large pen, 2500 sq ft. The fence is dogwire (2x4 welded wire) covered with chickenwire. The chickens sleep in a coop in the center of the pen. Outside security is provided by a large dog (okay, a puppy - but the chipmunks will never get in!)

    The only thing that's gotten in so far was a great big chickensnake, which ate the chicks out from under the hens. It's been dispatched, and the surviving little chicks sleep with mama in a snakeproof cage.

    So far nothing else has gotten into the pen. And the chickens run to the coop when frightened.

    I think the best use of your money would be in tightening the coop - that's where they'll be at night, when most of the predators come out. But don't depend just on chickenwire - dogs and sometimes raccoons, or even foxes, operate during the day.

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