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I thought they were safe....

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by crzychickenlady, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. crzychickenlady

    crzychickenlady Songster

    Jan 31, 2007
    I have been naive.....In 2 years I havn't had one pred problem, so I had this false sense of security. I thought living in the city all I really had to worry about were stray dog/cats.

    I have been tested in the last few weeks and am becoming very angry!
    First, I have a hawk attack in broad daylight!!

    My birds used to free range every afternoon for about 3 hours before sunset, this particular day, we left to go to the grocery store, maybe gone 15 minutes with them out. Came back to find a hawk on top of one of my birds just pecking at it, feathers all over!
    I thought she was dead, she just lay there, her neck all twisted. Reached down to pick her up and she jumped up and took off like a shot into the coop.

    Now I am on guard, they only come out when I am sitting out back with them, gun in hand watching the skies. They are still on alert, every small bird that flies over and back in the pen they go.

    Now, just last night, we hear cackles and crowing about midnight, go out to investigate and find a RACOON in the coop. My roo was down in the coop in shock, just a few scratches on him and feather loss.

    I am so frustrated and now I know they are just not safe cos they will keep coming back.

    I have a question on security, i didn't sleep all night worried.

    I have an aluminum shed that I use as a coop, then we have a dog run attached to that as the pen, which is covered with chicken wire and then covered with platsic greenhouse panels and a tarp on top of that, I thought it was secure but looking this morning found a few points of entry.
    I will be patching those this afternoon with heavy duty rabbit cage wire.
    My question is here. The shed has aluminum sliding doors on it, can this racoon manipulate these doors and get them open and get in? This would be the only way he could get into the shed. There is no other possible entry he could use.

    I used to leave the door open at night to keep it cool in there in the summer, with winter coming,, it will be closed, but will they be safe???
  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    Raccoons can manipulate most anything open that isn't padlocked shut. I've had pet coons in years past and it's next to impssible to keep them penned in or out of anything.
  3. thewarriorchild

    thewarriorchild Songster

    Mar 29, 2008
    Ringwood area, NJ
    What do you have as a bottom?? I am so happy I stopped here before I made my coop, it may be rusted by now but I have 1/2 foot under our coop chicken wire. Aside from our recent bear attack our coop has had nothing come in unless the door was open. Oh my coop also has a floor but I believe we do not have anything living under that because everything was wired underneath. I would get a lock for the door and make sure there was some kind of floor.
  4. Jenski

    Jenski Songster

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    Hawks and raccoons have to eat too, and eat they shall ~ unless the chix are locked up tight.

    If you still want to keep free-ranging during the day, you might put out some cover in the yard so they can duck and run underneath if a hawk comes. I have seen covers made from old crates, pallets, 2 x 4s ~ just as long as there is protection from the sky, that should buy them some time. (Sounds like they are already learning to watch out.) Other folks who free range might have more solutions as well.

    As for night ~ the coons are the most pernicious, as they have clever little hands and great strength for their size. You will really have to watch the coop security to keep them out. Definitely lock the door. Make sure you have adequate ventilation, but that vent holes are securely covered in wire mesh.

    One thing I have done with my two coops and runs is to have more than one locking mechanism on each entry point ~ for example, on the egg door of my small coop I have a hasp lock (that I can padlock if I choose), a clip lock and two wooden pegs. I figure if one fails there are others in place to slow down entry, and each one works differently so a pred would have to be quite talented to figure them all out.

    I am not sure if anything is truly failsafe, but every thing you can do to increase security will help your peace of mind. Remember, keeping chickens should be fun, not stressful! Do what you need to do to make your chickens reasonably safe, and enjoy yourself.

    Good luck, and do let us know how things go!
  5. crzychickenlady

    crzychickenlady Songster

    Jan 31, 2007
    I have a feeling im going to have to build a stronger coop. The doors on this thing, even if i lock them, can be pulled open at the bottom, they are not on a track at the bottom.

    It has rained all day and I could not fix the gaps in the pen, so I brought them in for the night....I hope it lets up tomorrow....I have 7 chickens in my kitchen........

    I think my best bet....unless I build a new coop, which i dint think is going to happen this time of year....Is going to be to completely secure the run.

    The bottom of the shed is a concrete slab, there is no covering on the bottom of the run, just dirt. I didn't bury any wire or anything, but the pen itself is sat down in the ground a bit.
  6. Chicabee19

    Chicabee19 Songster

    Aug 8, 2008
    We got one of those same sheds with the doors that slide apart. It's 10' x 7'.

    Our plan is to build a stand-alone wooden coop inside the shed, with a strong door on the front of it.
  7. crzychickenlady

    crzychickenlady Songster

    Jan 31, 2007
    Ok, I patched what I could today, I also took pics of the doors on my shed.
    I want to make sure that the shed/coop is secure cos I know that monster will find a way into the pen.

    My plan for the door is to wedge bricks in front of them so that the bottom of the door cant be pried open.


    You can see here where I can wedge the bricks in. They fit snugly between the door and 4x4 I used to keep water from running into the coop.


  8. MagsC

    MagsC Queen Of Clueless

    Jul 27, 2008
    Yep, build it like Ft. Knox! I dont think there IS such a thing as over-doing on a chicken coop, predators seem to find any number of ways into one.[​IMG]
  9. Duppydo

    Duppydo In the Brooder

    Oct 13, 2008
    Yep. racoons are bad news, as well as hawks..I have several live traps working most of the time, and get rid of them in a way, so they do not return.My birds are out from dawn to dusk, .they have a half acre sized run surrounded by 7ft deer fencing, no top covering.They have alot of evergreen cover to hide from hawks.
    I know how bad raccoons can be.They killed every frog and turtle in my pond. Destroyed my corn patch. I built my coop pretty strongly, but coons are presistent...I keep trapping, so i don't get a out of hand population. I'm trying to catch one now that has HUGE foot prints, this bad boy or girl must be a 40 or better pounder...it didn't get that big being a dummie, most likely had a few close calls and learned to be cautious...These are the coons i worry about getting my chickens, their tested, smart and strong...they avoid traps..they have to be super hungry to take a chance playing around a live trap, cold winter is likely the best time to catch these guys, if there catchable at all...Kevin
  10. BantamMom13720

    BantamMom13720 In the Brooder

    Jul 17, 2007
    Spotsylvania , VA
    Could you just buy one of the little pre-fab sheds from Home Depot or Lowes? They have them for about $500 (at least here in VA), and having just built an 8x12 myself, I can say that's a reasonable cost. You can then install nesting boxes and perches and store your food and all in there too.

    If not, I'd build one with a floor and doors etc. so you don't have to worry about those little b***ards getting your babies. I lost one chicken, my pet Sophie , to a coon two years ago. The following evening, the coon got a 20g shell in the head coming back for dessert. Haven't seen on since, and thank God, haven't lost any to predators since. I even free range all day, every day on four acres. Everyone goes in at night, and nothing has broken in to the pens.

    It's definitely a frustrating thing to try to beat the coons to the draw. They are persistent little spuds. Frankly, if you get the chance (and can, legally) just shoot it.

    Good Luck

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