my predator control experiences/philosophy

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by anthony, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. anthony

    anthony Out Of The Brooder

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    kirkfield
    i live in rural central ontario .. we have hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, occasional wolves, black bear, dogs, fishers, mink, weasels, raccoons, rats etc etc .. pretty much everything short of mountain lions and lynx, and they're all after a free chicken dinner; who can blame them, everyone's gotta eat right ?? the previous residents of my farm had kept chickens so the facilities were already in place, first thing i did when i moved in was get some birds .. here are some of the lessons i've learned in the past 8 years

    it's true hawks and owls can be stopped with over head nets or shotguns, but nets will trap them and hurt them and obviously shotguns are a pretty drastic and very final solution .. even if it weren't illegal to kill a hawk i'd never do it, seeing them fly overhead gives me joy and wildlife was part of the reason i got out of the city in the first place .. so what to do ??? honestly, i don't think i've lost too many birds to winged killers, but here's what an old time chicken guy told me once; take a length of string and attach pieces of tinfoil and pie plates or such and hang it about 20 feet or so above the chicken yard .. the wind will catch this arrangement then the sun will glint and reflect off the shiny tinfoil and these flashes of light are enough to stop hawks .. owls come at night of course, the best thing to do is not let your chucks roost outdoors

    foxes however have plagued me from day one, i lost an entire flock of copper marans to hungry fox kits one summer .. the only 100% successful solution i ever found is to lock up my birds at night .. a hot wire at 18" all around the outside of the yard helped thwart the first wave of foxes, but i've since added goats to my farm and their yard shares a fence with my birds .. i really didn't want to zap my poor goats every time they get interested in what my birds are up to, so the hot wire went back to just keeping the cows in the fields .. what i did was i built my fences up 7 or 8 feet and down a foot, but the red menace still kept taking my birds, so now as soon as the daylight gets low they go indoors behind a secure let door .. i tried live traps baited with tuna fish, dead birds and cat food but i never got a single fox, just a scared old raccoon .. the foxes are still about, i saw one skulking about at noon the other day when we brought a new horse home, but so far my plan has worked well .. my fence is dog run fencing and chicken wired layered and buried a foot down, to about waist height and then regular old chicken wire up from there, all the poles/posts/braces/what have you are on the inside of the fence line, if a fox wants to use a ladder to get in there he can bring his own .. the dog run fencing is wire in about 2 inch by 3 inch squares (or rectangles rather) and gives the fence strength and a bit of integrity .. we have mature pine trees as a wind break around the west and north sides to block some of the prevailing wind in winter, i keep them trimmed back on the fence side to stop climbing predators .. so far this has kept the coyotes at bay .. i doubt it'd last 5 minutes against a determined bear, but so far they seem more interested in the apple orchards that surround my house and they're just a sporadic nuisance at best thanks to my barking dogs .. speaking of which, i teach my dogs that the birds are not chew toys/food source etc at a young age, or at least try to .. my american bulldog, who i thought was above such antics made short work of my efforts to keep a flock of chocolate muskovys .. vigilance is the only answer there

    one of my neighbors said he had a lot of success by using a two bulb motion sensor security light, but instead of a light bulb in both spots he got a piece at the hardware store that screws into a light bulb socket but allows you plug something in .. he hooked it up so it turned on a radio tuned into a country station, apparently foxes don't enjoy waylon jennings as much as some folks do

    if you've ever seen a fox out during the day you'll notice they get around like well trained soldiers, moving from cover to cover .. they'll take laborious circular paths to get somewhere they want to be and avoid at all costs direct open routes .. so clean up junk piles and keep brush well trimmed to spoil their camouflaged highways .. walk your dog in woodlots frequently and let him use the bathroom there, foxes HATE dogs and doggy odors even more than slide guitars and lyrics about pickup truck maintenance

    mink, weasels and fishers are relentless little murderers .. i lost a lot of pigeons to a tiny white winter weasel once .. the only solution there is to close up every gap in your coop .. use tight hardware cloth over vents and don't count on staples alone to secure it, instead frame it in with 1x2 strapping so they can't get under it .. galvanized roof flashing can be nailed over gaps between wall boards and caulk up the spaces around windows .. it is mind boggling what a weasel can get through if there's lunch on the other side, anywhere a mouse can go a weasel can get access to

    oh yes, mice; they might not kill birds directly but they carry diseases and they have no problem urinating & defecating where they eat, so what i do is keep grain/feed/corn etc in old freezers, or fridges tipped on their backs so the lids open upwards .. the plastic liners of fridges are obviously also very sanitary and easy to clean, being designed to keep our food safe .. if mice/chipmunks/squirrels etc are eating the food you put out for your birds try feeding less food but more often .. that makes for way less waste as well

    sometimes predation isn't from external sources, this last spring i opened up a door in the fence to let the chickens clean up after my goats and get more sun and exercise .. then one saturday morning we bought a couple of piglets to fatten up and fill the freezer at the local sales barn, they too shared the goat yard .. i really liked the whole idea of all the animals and birds living together in one big happy family, but all of a sudden the bird count started dropping while the piglets enjoyed a growth spurt !! it took me a little while before i figured it out, so much for that idyllic pastoral image

    so to sum up, a combination of spending time with your birds, secure fencing, locking them up at night and trying to think like a predator will keep your critters safe .. hope this helps [​IMG]
     
  2. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good post and I agree with you but I'm sure the SSS people will not. The first line of defense against any and all predators is de fence. Next is a secure coop and having your chickens inside it, especially at night.
     
  3. anthony

    anthony Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 11, 2008
    kirkfield
    thanks mr. woodmort .. what are SSS people ???
     
  4. welasharon

    welasharon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    sometimes predation isn't from external sources, this last spring i opened up a door in the fence to let the chickens clean up after my goats and get more sun and exercise .. then one saturday morning we bought a couple of piglets to fatten up and fill the freezer at the local sales barn, they too shared the goat yard .. i really liked the whole idea of all the animals and birds living together in one big happy family, but all of a sudden the bird count started dropping while the piglets enjoyed a growth spurt !! it took me a little while before i figured it out, so much for that idyllic pastoral image....


    oh dang...
     
  5. welasharon

    welasharon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    sss-shoot, shovel and shut up
     
  6. arherp

    arherp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow! And I thought we had it bad, predator-wise.
     
  7. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

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    Nice thoughts Anthony, particularly on your first post. [​IMG]
     
  8. anthony

    anthony Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 11, 2008
    kirkfield
    Quote:ahhhh .. i'm more of a 'shoot, saute and serve' kinda guy .. live and let live unless it's really tasty [​IMG]
     
  9. anthony

    anthony Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 11, 2008
    kirkfield
    Quote:thank you
     
  10. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

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    My Coop
    Quote:ahhhh .. i'm more of a 'shoot, saute and serve' kinda guy .. live and let live unless it's really tasty [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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