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Newbie here, questions about predators

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Desirai, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. Desirai

    Desirai Songster

    Oct 12, 2011
    Okay well hello all.
    I have no chickens, but I am researching because I want to raise some as pets.

    I live in the wilderness on a 5 acre plot of land outside of the city. Our major predators here include coyotes, neighbors' dogs and bobcats.

    Currently I am researching various ways to build coops that protect chickens from these predators.

    My number one concern is losing my flock to predators.

    My first question: I have 7 cats (4 are strict indoor, 3 are ferals)
    Will there be a way to train the ferals to leave my chickens alone? Can a housecat kill a chicken?

    Secondly: My neighbor has dogs that run loose. We chase them out of yard almost every single day because they dig holes in my flower gardens and chase our cats. How can I protect chickens from these dogs? (PS: Complaining to said neighbor does no good, and the police don't care.)

    Thirdly: Coyotes and wild critters. I'd be very afraid to allow my chickens to free roam unsupervised.

    The way I thought of building the coop/run(s) was to make sure the flooring is layered with chicken wire to prevent creatures from digging underneath. Do you think this would work? The coyotes have dug up nearly all of our pets' graves which is very, um traumatizing for the children in the family.

    I'm kind of an animal rights activist and I don't believe in killing critters just for being a nuisance. So I would like humane ways to deter them away from my tasty poultry.

  2. angie3881

    angie3881 Songster

    Sounds to me like you are best off to build the coop secure and tight with an adequate run so they have lots of room. I have never heard of using chicken wire for the flooring, but it sounds like a great idea as long as it is covered so they don't catch their feet in it. I would consider an electric fence with a good jolt if the neighbors can't keep their dogs under control! I have a barn cat, but he is old and pays no attention to the chickens. I think a healthy cat could easily take a small chicken. Sounds like you have your work cut out for you! Good luck!
  3. annep

    annep Songster

    Mar 4, 2011
    Dont use chicken wire to try to protect them..Just dang near anything can get through that..Use hardware cloth..and just keep them enclosed, top too..You could make a chicken tractor too..Some pretty neat ones on the net
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Check out the Coop & Run - Design, Construction & Maintenace section. Lots of good ideas there. Your outside cats shouldn't be too much of a problem once your chickens are grown (assuming you'd get them as chicks). I have wild barn cats that live near my coop and the only problem I have with them is when they find the eggs my free-rangers lay before I do. Can't blame them for that. If I was too worried about it, I'd keep the chickens locked up so I could get all of their eggs....
  5. AlabamaChickenLady

    AlabamaChickenLady Songster

    Jan 4, 2011
    Oak Grove, Alabama
    [​IMG] Wow... now that's a bunch of questions. But fortunately you are in the right place for answers!! [​IMG]

    I also live on a couple acers in the country and have the same pesky animals you listed.

    First - your standard chicken wire will not keep the predators you listed out for long. We went with the 1/2" galvinized hardwire. Much more durable, but also more expesive. We also buried our wire (for the run walls) 1-2 feet under ground. A lot of people also put an "Apron" around the outside of the coop to deter animals from trying to dig in. This consist of digging down 6-12 inches deep, by 3 foot out from your walls all the way around the coop. Then you lay down the wire and cover it with the dirt and pack it down. If an animal tries to dig under, they run into the wire and stop. We also put wire over the top of our run area, then eventually covered it with tin. You will need to cover the run with something to keep the owls and other preditary birds from flying down and attacking and stealing your chickens.

    I did read about one lady on here that built hugh flower boxes (with landscape timbers above ground) inside her run area and then planted grass in them. Then she covered the flower boxes with the 1/2" Galvinized hard wire. End result was the grass grew up thru the wire, and the chickens were able to eat it but not devour it (as they naturally would) and kill it. The added bonus was that her chickens provided fresh fertilixer to the grass to keep it going strong and the grass also provided (sometimes) a tasty bug as a treat.

    Second - when building your coop and run, you are better off to build it like fort knox from the beginning. We also built a small 6ft X 6ft room off the side of the coop to keep our feed and supplies in so they would be right there and handy. You should spend some time on here researching the coop design section of this site to get some great ideas. There are many talented people on here. You will need to make sure you have a durable, sturdy coop that is also funtional for you and your needs. Metal garbage cans to store food in will help to keep the mouse population down.

    Third - Cats. We only have 1 cat and he learned early on not to mess with our hens. But with the number of cats that you have, they could easily gang up on a chicken and kill it. Especially the ferals. I would recomend keeping the chickens inside the coop and run area at all times. Free ranging is great, but not always an option for us. I make up for the 'not free-ranging' by giving them special treats from time to time. With the exception of Copper, none of my hens try to get out, because the run and coop is all they know.

    Lastly - Animal activist is awsome!! Other options to injuring or killing a pesky animal are available. Say like... Fire crackers sound like a gun shot and will scare them off. Especially if you are close to them. A paintball gun will sting, but not kill, plus has the added bonus of leaving paint spots on the dog (or what ever animal) so the owners will see them and possibly take steps to keep the pet closer to home. A pellet gun with plastic pellets will also sting but not kill. But I wouldn't use them close up to an animal or it could leave a cut or such. I once read about a lady on here that got a repeat offending dog to come to her, and then she used a marker to draw a bulls eye on the dogs side and sent him on his way home. The owners got the point and kept the dog home after that.

    Ohhh, and you could always string some cans together with a rope or wire and fasten it to the sides of your run or coop. If an animal is poking around and bumps it... it will make a noise and either alert you or scare them off.

    Hope some of this is able to help you. You should get some great info here.

    Welcome to BYC!!! Good luck!!!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
  6. Desirai

    Desirai Songster

    Oct 12, 2011
    oh, hi! I live in Alabama too! [​IMG]

    I've read about the standard chicken wire, so I suppose I'll be looking into getting something stronger like the hardwire you mention.

    I also figured I would try burying the wire as well, but then thought that might not be a good idea if I have to move the coop or anything.

    But then I don't plan to at all, but then.. eh. Anyway!

    I've been looking at designs. although I don't quite understand building procedures because I've never built anything like this, but my daddy has .. [​IMG]
  7. simplynewt

    simplynewt Chirping

    Sep 12, 2011
    My Coop
    Wow, I am a transplanted Alabamian. Desirai, I just finished my very first coop and what I did was spent alot of time browsing through the hundreds of coop designs here. Look at all of them - the large as well as the small and then go from there. Where I live at, I have limestone 2" below the topsoil of my yard so I dont fret to much about preditors digging in but I did put an "apron" around the run consisting of 1 x 2 welded wire. I am hoping that will discourage any wanna be's from a free chicken dinner.

    I am also considering sprinkling a sulfur/lyme mixture around the coop and run to keep pesky snakes from getting to close. You may also want to get some golf balls to put into the nest boxes so if a snake does get into the coop for the eggs, it will eat a golf ball and leave this world with a terrible belly ache but full.

    Good luck.

  8. wvfoxhunter

    wvfoxhunter In the Brooder

    Jun 21, 2011
    Lewisburg, WV
    use a strip or two of hot wire all the way around your yard that way when troublesome critters come around [​IMG] zap
  9. wrldlygrrl

    wrldlygrrl Songster

    Apr 24, 2011
    Decatur, GA
    Sad to say, I can speak from very recent experience: The Massacre in Coopertown (my coop+run)

    I live on 1.5 acres just far enough from town (but 150 miles from BHM, my hometown!) that there are coyotes, racoons, possum and a few feral cats around. I have taken photos of hawks just standing on the top of the old run, waiting for a chance to get in! I have seen a fox as well. Something tore right through 2 layers of chicken wire, one the strong kind and ravaged my chickens, all 12 of them, one is still MIA, feared dead.

    So, new coop design:

    Raised coop (on a little hill, so one side raised 1', the other 2'. Plywood floor, covered with cheapest vinyl flooring I could find from Home Depot-a remnant. Nesting boxes on top, in the back, with access through front and side, all hardware cloth, 1/2", reinforced with old planks found around the yard...just remnants. Chicken wire 18" down on all sides from the top, which is covered with chicken wire, then lat, then zinc roofing.

    The run: hardware cloth, well nailed, sunk 12", covered with dirt, 1X3, nailed. Top of run reinforced with chicken wire.

    Hopefully, this will work, as I have just spent big bucks to replace my birdies!

    Old flock: 3 easter eggers, 1 bantam cochin, 1 frizzle, 1 barred rock, 1 buff orp, 1 Australian Sussex, 1 Coronation Sussex, 1 bantam frizzle, 1 light brahma bantam, 1 black sex link.
    New flock: 3 black sex links, 2 RIR, 1 wyandotte, 2 easter eggers, 1 barred rock, 1 cuckoo maran, 1 wellsummer,

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