How to protect chickens from predators


10 Years
Dec 1, 2009

Our pullets are nearly ready to go outside, so we are finalizing coop/run plans. We are planning to use hardware cloth(I think it is called, the fine mesh wire) on the top and sides, but I am wondering if it will be necessary to put it on the bottom, also. I would like to avoid this if possible, so the chicks can eat the grass, but don't want to risk anything being able to get in to them. We have wild cats around, and possums, and my sister in law several blocks away saw a bob-cat at their house(in the city!!!). We have two dogs, but they are kept in a different part of the yard. They are fenced off from where the chickens will be, but then won't be much good for scaring off predators.

Any tips?

Thanks a lot,
I would put a layer of either the hardware cloth or chicken wire on the ground around the edge of the coop inside so that way if anything tries to dig underneath they'll come across the wire. You won't keep grass in your coop!! My 3 hens and 1 rooster wiped out all the grass within a month!! Just my opinion though!!

All the wild animals will dig to get in (and dogs and rats), or climb. They can tear apart chicken wire but hardware cloth is higher gauge and most (raccoon etc) can not tear through it if it is reinforced with posts, etc. If you have possom, you have raccoons.
Your chickens will need a secure place at night that is locked up. If a 5 year old can open the door, so can a raccoon. I use key locks.
I have hardware cloth floor to ceiling, a roof and a cement floor.

You can have a covered open pen to let them get to the grass in the day. At night, they need to be locked into a secure coop.
chicken door, egg door, your door, all locked.
You can also put a hot wire, electric fence around the bottom and top of the outside fence.

I live in California, so the climate allows that I made a 3 sided coop/pen combo. This is lucky as I do not have to open the chicken door to let them out into a run and lock them back up at night, since it is 'included.' It is all roofed.
It's 8 by 16 ft. 8 feet are enclosed on 3 sides with plywood, has roost, nesting boxes etc. And provides shelter during cold or stormy weather. The other 8 ft is enclosed on 3 sides with hardware cloth and gives them some air during the hotter times.
Floor is cement with 4 inches of pine shavings. I made it to have 10 sq ft per bird so they could be inside this 24/7 if need be. I let them free range when I am there.

Most people here are trying to build 'fort knox' to keep the critters out. There are lots of good ideas here. It's great that you are thinking through the design to keep them safe!
unless you have a GINORMOUS chicken yard, there won't be grass there long regardless. Putting mesh down will cut down on predation by a huge degree. After you build coop knox do what nzpouter says, a good working dog and a pistol/rifle work good. Also, I keep a trap baited as a preventative.
There is a lot of ways to do it.
I do not know where you live but we keep a few geese in our coop with our chickens and they will try to fight or alert us by honking. They do make a lot of noise so if you live in a populated area they are not a good choice.

Ok, I guess that tells me what I need to know. I am in a city, and we cannot have geese, or roosters, or guineas, etc. So using them as alarms wouldn't be possible for us. I guess we will go for the hardware cloth on all sides, and top and bottom. At least that way I won't have to worry about it. I want to be able to have them in a secure enough pen that they won't have to be locked in the coop at night, so this seems the best way to do it. I will make sure and put good locks on the doors.

mediazeal- does having possums in the area really mean that we have racoons, too? Even living in a city with 100,000 people? I guess I shouldn't be surprised, I never would have thought a bob-cat would be around here, either. Maybe he was hunting racoons??
Just kidding.

Thanks everyone!

Racoons thrive in the city... The biggest ones I've ever seen have been right up the hill from downtown Seattle on a dense retail/entertainment strip. There were three of them that were probably close to double the size of any I ever saw growing up on the farm. They were tumbling down the hill on a major street at 10:30 or 11:00pm either fighting or playing and were completely oblivious to the traffic and the throngs of people outside of the nearby nightclubs. It was very weird and was my first encounter with city racoons, but since I've learned that they are super common and can be very aggressive. They seem to be even more adept at hunting and scrounging than their country counterparts too, unfortunately for us urban poultry keepers.
Hi Carrie

Yes, I live in the city and have raccoons. They walk around in the storm drains - raccoon highway. I see them peeking out at night when I drive by and I see them every now and then around the yard. They steal fruit from my trees as well. I also have skunks around. I try not to see those. I live in Sacramento. Big city. Raccoons are here.
good luck!
Ok, Fort Knox it is. I do want to keep them safe. Better a little extra expense now, than replacing my flock later!

Thanks again!

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