How to address fears that backyard chickens will increase predators?

SarasotaClucker

In the Brooder
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
38
2
32
One argument we are hearing is that chickens will increase raccoons, opossums, rats etc. We have challenged this thinking , but wonder if anyone out there with more data, facts, stories or anything else to challenge this neighborhood fear?
 

mandalitten

In the Brooder
9 Years
May 17, 2010
44
0
22
Argue that the chickens are not free range chickens, but that they are fully enclosed in a coop/run with barriers all around, including the floor so no predator or rodent can dig themselves in underneath. Don't use chicken netting as I think the holes are too large and mice can get in. I used the netting with smaller square holes, and it's also thicker, but I don't know what it's called.
 

anbhean

Chirping
9 Years
Jun 3, 2010
134
1
99
Colorado
Nothing attracts predators faster than "outdoor" cats. And I've never lived in a single neighborhood without the presence of at least several outdoor cats. So are these towns banning them? Oh... and as for raccoons... curb/sidewalk trash cans are a much more enticing "bait" than chickens-- I guarantee.

Good luck trying to get city councils to listen, our town wouldn't budge. I therefor "sneak" my girls and hope for the best. So far so good.
 

Penturner

Songster
9 Years
Feb 1, 2010
889
11
131
Reno Nevada
Any predators that are attracted to your flock are going to be those that already hunt in that area. most predators are territorial. They will also only stay around if they find food. As was mentioned before. trash and other sources like stray cats etc are more likely to become a food source then chickens in a well built coop and run.
To some degree chickens will become an attractant. they make noise and this serves to some degree as a predator call. but if a predator does come to explore but finds no reward, they will leave.

Other problems would be rodents. food, water, shelter and warmth are things that will attract them. The best way to keep them away is to deny the first two as completely as possible. I know from experience that mice will move in in mass with the supply of spilled feed.

Mice attract snakes and other predators and this can become the pay off they get by hunting near your coop. so think beyond just your chickens when you consider how you might attract predators.

Rodents coudl become a problem in other locations if you ever scale back on the number of chickens you have. less chicken less spilled feed and fewer rodents can survive and will go looking for other sources. this is when problems start.
 

mandalitten

In the Brooder
9 Years
May 17, 2010
44
0
22
Quote:Yes, I guess that's what it is called. it's a little more expensive, but for a small backyard coop I don't think it will make much difference and it's nice to know that you will keep rodents out.
 

TK421

Songster
10 Years
May 24, 2010
289
149
191
Central TX
SarasotaClucker: As a professional wildlife biologist, I have to weigh in here. The idea that keeping chickens would increase predator populations is unreasonable and inaccurate. First of all, is inappropriate to lump all predators in the same category. Each species varies with diet, territory size, and population density. While it is true that increased availability of READILY AVAILABLE food can increase density, one must not consider a backyard chicken coop as readily available food. The availability of dog food, cat food and bird feeders are a steady supply of food for many of these wildlife species, and usually goes undetected. In urban areas, the direct, intentional feeding of wildlife is much more prone to increasing populations than opportunistic food availability. The difference is that backyard flocks are traditionally small and enclosed. Owners of backyard flocks typically do not tolerate the presence of meso-mammals (coons, possums, coyotes, skunks, etc), and such intolerance (aversive conditioning) has been proven to decrease presence of many species. Additionally, if a chicken is eaten, unlike dog food, that "food source" is lost and they have to go elsewhere to find the next meal the following night. Even if a whole flock is lost, that feeds 1 or 2 animals for a few nights. Such limited food source is hardly enough to 1) sustain an increased population or 2) increase reproductive output such that the numbers are increased.

Also consider the myth that just having wildlife near urban areas will lead to an attack. Coyotes have to be tolerated and basically hand-fed before their behavior becomes worrisome. Much work by Dr. Stanley Gehrt in Chicago and others (new book Urban Carnivores is EXCELLENT) has shown that urban coyote diets typically are made up of less than 6% "urban" type items, including trash, feral cats, etc. They are much more likely to eat fruits, berries, roadkill, rats, mice, snakes, etc in parks or undeveloped land.

There's much much more to write, but I'll spare you my rant!
 

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