New Chicken Owner w/ One Less Bird :-(

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by VA Lady, May 26, 2010.

  1. VA Lady

    VA Lady Chirping

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    May 26, 2010
    Virginia
    My boyfriend recently bought a coop and we picked up 4 pullets to raise. Chickens are brand new to us as we both grew up in cities so I'm hoping to get some useful advice from folks on this site (also, please forgive me for the long post)! His house is on 10 acres in the middle of nowhere (so lots of woods all around his land) and we knew there were predators (have seen red and grey fox, raccoons, possums and hawks - know there are supposed to be coyotes and bear in the region). He thought the modified coop he'd bought was pretty solid but unfortunately it turned out not to be... [​IMG] I have a photo gallery of him putting it together and setting it up here:

    http://trishm.smugmug.com/Other/Chicken-Coop/11939953_XbX6G#878626857_7hMX3

    The area we slipped was in the nesting box. The bottom wasn't actually fully attached (I guess it was "designed" to be easier to clean) so the other night a raccoon pushed up the bottom enough to get one of his arms in and grabbed our beautiful little "Tulip" (we don't know what types of chickens we picked up - it didn't really matter to us). We'd only had the birds a few weeks but honestly it was just devastating to us both (although almost anyone we tell is like "they're just chickens" - it's very upsetting). We are putting a new plan in place and I wanted to outline it here and see if anyone would offer any feedback. As I said, we're new to this and have just been trying to piece together what to do from surfing the web...

    First, I think that the nest box itself is secure now. The bottom has been screwed tight to the rest of the box and hardware cloth has been wrapped all around the bottom too. Second, we are setting up an electric fence in a perimeter around the outside of the coop. Picked up everything at Tractor Supply including a Zareba 10 Mile AC Fencer. So far we've got a three wire fence set up with the bottom wire approx. 4-6 inches above the group and the top wire at approx. 13-16 inches. We still need to sink the three 6 ft ground rods and then we should be up and running. I have a concern about some small trees that are around 6 feet from the fence/coop. Does anyone know if raccoons are jumpers? I didn't know if to avoid the fence they would climb the trees and jump inside. Also, does the height of the fence sound good? We are debating adding 2 more wires... Third, we are (as of last night) starting to use a trap (with an open can of fishy cat food inside) hoping to at least get the raccoon that has already learned it could get in. My boyfriend set it up where he thinks the raccoon is coming in from the woods but we didn't have any success last night. Does anyone have thoughts on the best place to put a trap? Should it be really close to the coop itself? Lastly, we are now using a baby monitor to listen for any new attacks. If I hear a scratch or a peep I'm out the back door ready to fight (no, I haven't had a whole lot of sleep for several nights now). Does anyone have any experience with what I should actually be listening for? If the chickens hear a raccoon nearby are they going to start pitching a fit or will they keep quiet hoping it can't find them (or do you just never know?)?

    Sorry to run on forever but we both are feeling awful about what happened to our Tulip and want to do as much as we can to avoid a repeat...
     
  2. Hollywood Chickens

    Hollywood Chickens Songster

    Mar 12, 2009
    Florida
    My chickens scream but I keep a light on out back so that they can see it coming. chickens cannot see very well in the dark and their hearing isn't that great either, and to top that of they don't have a very good sense of smell!! poor things!

    I am very sorry for your loss, [​IMG] you have my deepest sympathies! I have lost 6 to predators.
     
  3. fancbrd4me02

    fancbrd4me02 Songster

    If you have electric and secure the doors and nest boxes, you should be pretty safe. If your pen is secure, you don't even need the trap.
     
  4. VA Lady

    VA Lady Chirping

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    May 26, 2010
    Virginia
    Quote:That's good to know (particularly since we haven't had any luck so far with the trap)! The main reason we put it out was that someone had told us that if the raccoon had "success" getting a chicken that they'd be extremely determined to get back in the coop. I guess if we were more familiar with the success rate of an electric fence we'd feel better about it too. Even if the coop is secure I'm not too thrilled with the idea of the raccoon spending the night climbing all over the coop trying to get in (and terrorizing the girls while doing it).
     
  5. mediazeal

    mediazeal Songster

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    Feb 26, 2009
    you might want to put hardware cloth around the perimeter down 2 feet since you do not have the coop/run on concrete. It will keep them from being able to dig under the fence and attack from inside the coop.
    so sorry you lost tulip
     
  6. bakerjw

    bakerjw Songster

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    Apr 14, 2010
    Johnson City, Tn
    Get an electric fence.
    Take a couple of pieces of wire and stick them out in the air.
    Stick marshmallows on the ends of the wire.
    Raccoons will quickly learn that your area is unpleasant.
     
  7. Smmcdn

    Smmcdn In the Brooder

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    Feb 3, 2009
    Drummonds TN
    It works for me that electric wire but also I have 4 bad black labs that wont let anything get around the coop. The chicks scream and the dogs will answer. They have killed coons ,Possums,Rats, Snakes,Cats and 2 dogs that tried to get to the chickens. The dogs were trouble at first but they found that the chickens are welcome as long as they stay in the coop. A shotgun works also..
     
  8. VA Lady

    VA Lady Chirping

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    May 26, 2010
    Virginia
    Quote:Hmm, we do have the hardware cloth around the perimeter but only a foot or so down... I wonder if we should go deeper or if it would be better to just go ahead and pour concrete since we already have a frame in place? Does anyone have an opinion on concrete vs. dirt?
     
  9. Smmcdn

    Smmcdn In the Brooder

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    Feb 3, 2009
    Drummonds TN
    Concrete is better not only Predators can dig but chicks can also
     
  10. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

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    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    Sorry for the loss. Sounds like you are taking actions that are appropriate.
     

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