Need answers, how many, when and where?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Hummingbird Hollow, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Songster

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    OK folks, the time has come. My 8 6-week-olds really do need to move out of our garage into the coop and run I've built...almost finished building...for them. There are a few details that still need attending to, such as secure latches for the egg door and man-sized door to the run...oh yeah and this little detail called hanging the man-sized door to the coop itself. I keep busying myself with adding extra features to the run and coop until it's starting to look like a little chicken theme-park but not getting the essentials done and I know that it's because I'm really paranoid about moving them from the security of our two-car garage into the dangers of the Colorado mountains. My plan is to have the girls in a large, fully enclosed run during the day and a well built coop at night. So I need to hear from all of you about the hows, wears and whens of your losses to predators.

    Would you please answer for me: A) whether you have lost chickens to predators, B) where and when those losses took place, (eg. free ranging during the day or in the run during the day or in the coop at night or other) and C) Having had losses what you've changed or what you wish you'd done differently the first time to avoid those/further losses.

    I need to make rational steps to finish this project and get the chickens out of the garage and I'd kick myself if I'm spending time designing the perfect poop-hammock and leaving a danger un-addresses. I also need to know when to stop obsessing about the risks and simply know that I've done a good job and they're safe and I can just get a good night of sleep.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    In three years I've lost two to predators, during the day while free ranging (no fences). The losses were separated by about a year and a half. I did not catch the predator, one of which I think was a fox but the other I really have no clue. When I have a loss, I keep the rest penned in the run for about a month so the predator does not get in the habit of picking up a free meal.

    Since I free range, I have to accept that losses are possible. I've also had three losses in that time period that were not due to predators. When you deal with living animals, you will eventually have to deal with dead animals. It is part of the equation of life.
  3. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Crowing

    Apr 11, 2011
    Most of my losses have been to hawks and coons. And could have been prevented. The hawk attacks happened during the day while the flock was free ranging unsupervised. Keeping them in the run most of the day, and supervised free ranged time fixed that problem. I also feed the local crows, they nest on my property now and chase just about every bird from their territory. The racoon attacks happened at night, and it was because I forgot to lock the coop up at night. So now I make sure the door and windows are shut, and we haven't had any issues. Good luck!
  4. dainerra

    dainerra Crowing

    Jun 4, 2011
    racoons and stray dogs are my primary problems. I almost lost one to a hawk several years ago, but he couldn't get her off the ground.

    Stray dogs and racoons can dig, so be sure to either have a solid bottom or some way to block them from digging in.
    Also make sure that even small holes are blocked up. Our original coop had a 1 1/2 inch ventilation left open. Racoons can squeeze their body through a hole that small. I lost an entire flock of 20+ birds that night - coon got in but couldn't get out.
  5. surgerynut

    surgerynut Chirping

    Apr 20, 2011
    Leavenworth, KS
    Unfortunately, I lost my chickens to predators which I raised since pups. Now they are in when the chickens are out.[​IMG]
  6. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    I'm in the burbs. Fully fenced yard. 3 losses total.
    1- 7 years ago, middle of the sunny afternoon to a raccoon, I was in the yard didn't see or hear anything. Just noticed that everything went quiet.
    2- in the last month, 1 in the middle of the day and 1 at dusk, to raccoons. I was not at home at the time. They were free ranging in the yard.

    Now no free ranging unless I'm at home.

    Imp- Good luck
  7. gavinandallison

    gavinandallison Songster

    Jul 25, 2010
    Matthews, NC.
    I don't free-range, but have my runs surrounded with lots of hardware cloth and bird netting over the top. At night they are cooped up, I have cheap solar powered lights from Walmart around my coop and a small battery powered radion on a talk radio station playing 24/7. This deters predators so far..............

  8. mjuenem

    mjuenem Chirping

    Aug 8, 2010
    Putnam Co.
    Had chickens for 1.5 years. Lost three in that time and each one as been a learning experience.

    Loss #1:
    I started with just a coop surrounded by plastic fencing 4 feet tall. Had our original two faverolles bantams inside and didn't realize that bantams can fly so well. They were only about 3 months old and one flew out and landed in the yard in the afternoon and a cat got her.

    Improvement #1: Covered the run and coop with bird netting (my mindset still thinking "keep chickens in" not "keep predators out")Replaced the faverolles pullet with two faverolles (chicken math) .

    Loss #2
    Next disaster was a couple of months later while letting them free range. Normally we watch them pretty close but I went inside for probably a half hour and came back out to find feathers all over the yard (late morning early afternoon), a dead pullet in the middle with her head missing and the neck pecked down to the skin. Research told me it was likely a hawk. The other two pullets were hiding in the run, one in the coop and one had stuck it's head into the open void of a cement block under a coop leg and was laying on it's side. I spoke to her and there was absolutely no movement. I thought the worse and reached down to slide her out and as I did she picked up her head and looked at me! She was fine, just traumatized.

    Improvement #2: We still free range as much as possible, but only under DIRECT supervision. If myself or daughters need to go in even just to use the bathroom, we have someone come out and watch them. Another improvemnt was to get a full sized faverolles to make our flock look less like easy pickings from the air. She also took over the flock watcher duties just like I had hoped.

    Unrelated improvement #3: It became obvious that a tangle of bird netting and plastic fencing not only made it tough to care for them (especially for our neighbors while we were vacationing) but looking forward to Winter and snow, it was obvious this wasn't going to work. I found a 12'x12' chain link paneled dog run on Craigs List for $100 and placed it over the coop. So nice to have a secure pen with a human-sized door to make maintenance so much easier. The chickens did well through Winter and our one layer kept laying till about Christmas. After Winter we now have two chickens laying and they are enjoying not being cooped-up. They love having the coop door open after all the cold weather and are choosing to perch outside the coop in the covered run.

    Loss #3:
    Easter morning I awake early and look out the window to check on the chickens. There is something wrong out there because I see feathers blowing across the yard. I go out to see and am confronted by a carnage that took place in the left front corner of the run. There are tons of feathers and gore stuck all over that corner and for about a foot down each side. All that is recognizable are a couple wing pieces with feathers still intact. It looks like a coon came through the bird netting on top and fell/jumped onto the coop roof. It chased the bantam into the corner where another coon pulled her through the fencing. It was one of our two remaining faverolles bantams, but the remaining chickens are doing fine and show no signs of stress - except for the remaning bantam (the bantams were best friends) who was laying last Fall and also again this Spring has not layed an egg since that night to this day. We replaced her with a baby blue cochin bantam pullet and a baby standard size leghorn pullet (chicken math again!)

    Improvements #4: OK now we have to get serious...
    Electric fence added to the top of the run extending up about 5 inches above the top rail. Another electric run extending out from the top rail horizontally about 5 inches. I have added the heavy plastic 1/2" hardware cloth clear around the inside bottom 2 feet of our chain link run. I have also added the 1/2" hardware cloth inside the chain link at the ends of their perches (1x2" boards stuck through the corners of the chail link run walls) and lining the corners adjacent to the perches. Lastly I laid a chicken wire apron on the ground extending out 2 feet from the run and connected to the chain link and the bottom rail and covered with leaves and debris common to the area.

    No more problems so far. I did shoot a coon on our back deck about a week after Easter, and my daughter mentioned that while sleeping out in a tent on the deck with a friend a couple weeks ago they heard something rattle the chain link of the run and then heard a blood curdling scream. I went out the next morning and notice the fencer was working fine but there was a sign that something struck the electric wire and bent the strand slightly right on the same corner where the chickens roost. I think we retrained something that night. So far, so good!
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2011
  9. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Songster

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    Quote:Thank you to mjuenem and the rest of you who have posted your learning experiences so far.

    Since I started this thread about 4 hours ago, I've moved the girls out into the run, which they love, exploring all of the various perches and chicken amusements I've created for them. I've hung the man-door with the help of my husband, which was a bear because something wasn't plumb in the door frame (hey I did it all by myself up until now) and am taking a coffee break before going back and trimming the gaps with some 1/4 round to block drafts. They'll probably spend the night and most of tomorrow back in the garage because I have to be away for a long period and would be steps are OK right?

    Has anyone lost a bird while secured inside your coop?
  10. Amethyste

    Amethyste For Love of Boo...

    Quote:A) yes

    B) losses took place IN the run at approx 10:30 AM from a cheeky brazen coon attack. They were all in the run during the day, let out early (normal time 7:30 am), never had any incidences before this. We have lived here for nearly 10 years and had chickens almost 8 years with only a few occasional signs of coons/possums etc, but we thought we had it covered since we only EVER saw the coons at night, and had no idea they would come out in the daytime.

    C) If we had thought about it, we would have made sure that there was no way for the coon to reach thru the holes in the kennel wire to be able to grab Boo. We would also have done a lot more research on skirting and putting hardware wire around the lower area of the walls of the run. HOWEVER. The girls were smart enough to listen to Boo and stand in the corner farthest away from the coon. Boo probably wouldn't have died if she hadn't tried to rush and attack the coon to protect her flock. So, all in all, the best I think we could have done is to have made the run less easy for the coon to reach Boo and for Boo to get within grabbing distance of the coon (since it looks like he grabbed her and pulled her thru the wire when she tried to protect her sisters) using hardware wire etc around the bottom of the coop.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2011

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