Mink-proofing the hen house door

FishingCreek

In the Brooder
Jul 31, 2020
10
23
46
So night before last we lost 3 of our 7 remaining chickens, including Bob our rooster. We lost another one just a week ago and based upon the fact that only one bird was taken through a space about 8 inches across where the poultry wire was ripped out, I thought we had a raccoon problem. I added some electric fence all the way around the bottom of the run and hen house (5-mile charger with ~60 feet of wire) plus two security cameras and yesterday found the massacre. The rooster and one hen were all but headless an laying on the floor of the hen house, which was a mess, and the third was missing. Once again I found a small space in the back corner of the run where the wire was pushed out, right up against the electric fence, and a trail of feathers. Nothing caught on the cameras.

Now, I was still thinking raccoon and noticed that the doorway and door to the hen house was bloody and feathers stuck to it. What I gathered is that the critter was able to lift the automatic door and get into the hen house, kill the three chickens, and then somehow worked its way back out through the door dragging the missing hen. So, we salvaged the remaining four hens, brought them inside and put them in an extra large dog crate until we can better secure the coop. While I was running down to Tractor Supply to grab a live trap and roll of 1/2" hardware cloth, my coop camera did capture the predator; a mink. I'm fairly certain it's a mink because this thing stood up in front of the hen house door while trying to get in and must have been at least 2 - 3 feet long from head to tail.

I set the live trap next to the hen house with a can of tuna cat food in it but it didn't appear to come back. Might have to experiment with different baits. Aside from that, I'm trying to figure out how I can secure the door to the hen house so that mink (or raccoon for that matter) cannot lift the door. I thought about adding some weights to the door but not sure that would make it heavy enough for predators to not get it open. Wish there was some sort of locking mechanism but given the debris that the chickens sometimes kick around the opening, I could see that just being a problem area.

Anyone deal with securing these automatic doors against predators? We have a small creek that runs around the property so I'm confident we'll be dealing with these things again.
 

roosterhavoc

Enabler
9 Years
Jan 5, 2012
27,511
61,063
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So night before last we lost 3 of our 7 remaining chickens, including Bob our rooster. We lost another one just a week ago and based upon the fact that only one bird was taken through a space about 8 inches across where the poultry wire was ripped out, I thought we had a raccoon problem. I added some electric fence all the way around the bottom of the run and hen house (5-mile charger with ~60 feet of wire) plus two security cameras and yesterday found the massacre. The rooster and one hen were all but headless an laying on the floor of the hen house, which was a mess, and the third was missing. Once again I found a small space in the back corner of the run where the wire was pushed out, right up against the electric fence, and a trail of feathers. Nothing caught on the cameras.

Now, I was still thinking raccoon and noticed that the doorway and door to the hen house was bloody and feathers stuck to it. What I gathered is that the critter was able to lift the automatic door and get into the hen house, kill the three chickens, and then somehow worked its way back out through the door dragging the missing hen. So, we salvaged the remaining four hens, brought them inside and put them in an extra large dog crate until we can better secure the coop. While I was running down to Tractor Supply to grab a live trap and roll of 1/2" hardware cloth, my coop camera did capture the predator; a mink. I'm fairly certain it's a mink because this thing stood up in front of the hen house door while trying to get in and must have been at least 2 - 3 feet long from head to tail.

I set the live trap next to the hen house with a can of tuna cat food in it but it didn't appear to come back. Might have to experiment with different baits. Aside from that, I'm trying to figure out how I can secure the door to the hen house so that mink (or raccoon for that matter) cannot lift the door. I thought about adding some weights to the door but not sure that would make it heavy enough for predators to not get it open. Wish there was some sort of locking mechanism but given the debris that the chickens sometimes kick around the opening, I could see that just being a problem area.

Anyone deal with securing these automatic doors against predators? We have a small creek that runs around the property so I'm confident we'll be dealing with these things again.
You would be wise to set traps for mink along the creek every fall/winter. They usually stay within a few feet of the water going up and down looking for food but they will venture further away. I have a stream running in the woods about 300 yds from my nearest pen in the yard and had a mink messing with ducks a few years ago. I’ve caught 2 mink each year since off the creek in the same exact spots.
 

FishingCreek

In the Brooder
Jul 31, 2020
10
23
46
I'll have to take some better pics but this is the bottom of the doorway. One thing I noticed as I was cleaning the blood and feathers away (after pic) is that there was about 1/2" of dirt/poop in the bottom corners of the door guides on both sides. This would have kept the bottom of the door open just enough that it wasn't obvious unless you were directly looking at it, but guessing enough that a predator could work their nose or fingers (raccoon) underneath and push it up. Thinking about perhaps putting a 1" piece of wood across the opening, flush with where the door comes down so that even if the door doesn't lower completely, it will be difficult for a predator to work themselves under it.
IMG_20201205_155245.jpg
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
100,701
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SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
my coop camera did capture the predator; a mink. I'm fairly certain it's a mink because this thing stood up in front of the hen house door while trying to get in and must have been at least 2 - 3 feet long from head to tail.
Can you post a pic?

Anyone deal with securing these automatic doors against predators?
What kind of door is it?
You might have to manually lock it, which would defeat the automatic part.
 

FishingCreek

In the Brooder
Jul 31, 2020
10
23
46
Can you post a pic?

What kind of door is it?
You might have to manually lock it, which would defeat the automatic part.

Picture attached. Sorry it couldn't be clearer but that's about the best I could grab. The tail looks to be close to about half the length of the body, and my wife saw a mink near the road last year on the other side of the hill from us. Hence my suspicion that it's a mink.

Regarding the door, I don't recall the manufacturer of the motor and such, but perhaps you're talking about the design? It's a simple motor with string that has stop switches. It came with the hen house (my father built it several years ago then gave it to me), but looks to be around $100 on Amazon. I did think about replacing it with the rod/piston type that I saw when browsing around but don't know much about those.
 

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roosterhavoc

Enabler
9 Years
Jan 5, 2012
27,511
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Picture attached. Sorry it couldn't be clearer but that's about the best I could grab. The tail looks to be close to about half the length of the body, and my wife saw a mink near the road last year on the other side of the hill from us. Hence my suspicion that it's a mink.

Regarding the door, I don't recall the manufacturer of the motor and such, but perhaps you're talking about the design? It's a simple motor with string that has stop switches. It came with the hen house (my father built it several years ago then gave it to me), but looks to be around $100 on Amazon. I did think about replacing it with the rod/piston type that I saw when browsing around but don't know much about those.
That’s 100% a mink. Even they will venture out occasionally in low light conditions. 3-4 mink traps are cheaper.
 

Mimi13

fuhgettaboutit
Premium Feather Member
Jan 6, 2018
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Centre, AL
Thinking about perhaps putting a 1" piece of wood across the opening, flush with where the door comes down so that even if the door doesn't lower completely, it will be difficult for a predator to work themselves under it.
I am terribly sorry for your losses. My pop door is not self locking so I did exactly what you described above. I installed a 3/4”x 1.5” wood stake across the bottom of the door. The bottom edge of the door slides down behind the wood stake the full 1.5”. I don’t believe a predator would be able to grab the bottom of the steel door and pull it up as it fits snugly and has no play.

I hope you are able to trap and dispose of these varmints so this doesn’t happen again. Nature can be so cruel at times.:hugs
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
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On the MN prairie.
We just had a mink kill yesterday. In the run in the middle of the day, while the rest of the flock was out free ranging. I had wandered over to the coop to check for eggs and found a dead, headless chicken in the corner of the run, right next to a hole that had been dug under the coop. DH put the carcass in the live trap and the mink was in it this morning. They are determined little critters for sure!
 

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