Open coop with live in dog

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Mark, May 27, 2007.

  1. Mark

    Mark Songster

    May 13, 2007
    North Central Texas
    I've been reading a lot about how to protect one's flock this weekend, and am wondering if 'open coops' don't make sense. Specifically, I'm wondering why not have a coop that is always open and has a dog living there. I'm pretty green at this, so I won't be upset if everyone finds this silly.

    It seems that 100 years ago, fences were for keeping chickens out of gardens, no one thought of keeping chickens in. With this in mind, it seems clear that chickens can take care of themselves.

    If you take the major classes of predators; each has a weakness which chickens can normally use for escape. A hawk may take 'a chicken a day', and a snake may take 10 or more chicks in a box, but the big kills occur when a raccoon, coyote get into a closed pen who's efforts to restrict the predator's entry equally restrict any chicken's ability to escape.

    With this in mind, it seems that getting birds off the ground where a coyote can catch them, and off roost connected to the ground by ladders raccoon can climb seems essential. Finally, the best escape for either is to scatter for the trees. At a minimun, the scatter defense limits the kill to less than 20% of the flock.

    If you are free ranging anyway, scattering for the trees is hardly a problem. Obviously, if one is keeping bird populations with 'industrial' density, sealed pens are required, but that certainly isn't my situation. Also, 'free ranging' won't work in cities and one has to accept a small but constant mortality rate.

    Finally, catching or harassing predators will have to be a fact of life. For this purpose, why not raise a dog to live in the coop?

    For example, if you want to protect your chickens from
  2. seedcorn

    seedcorn Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    NE. IN
    A good dog will take care of possums. raccoons, etc but will be a liability if it's a pack of dogs as they will join in. At nights, best solution is locked, secure coop. Hawks will get whatever they get during the day, trees, shrubs best there.
  3. fleurdelisky

    fleurdelisky In the Brooder

    Apr 13, 2007
    I only have two chickens ( Silver-Laced Wyandotte and Black Australorp) and a small 10x5 wire run with a dog kennel as a coop. My birds free range during the day and have my two year old Golden as a protector/playmate. He is very good about keeping other pests away from the backyard and loves to play with the birds. He just doesn't understand why they don't throw the ball back to him![​IMG] We put them in the coop at night and close the wire gate on the run and they have been perfectly safe and happy.
    Best of luck!
  4. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    There are certainly folks who use this method, but it is not fool-proof. Some loss of birds will still happen, just not on a large scale. Even the best dog will be overwhelmed if a pack of coyotes comes through, or a couple of tricky coons team up
  5. Oaknim

    Oaknim In the Brooder

    Apr 25, 2007
    Sylvia, KS
    We had a skunk incident three days ago and much to my chagrin, the dogs killed the poor thing. It was in with the ducks and geese and I tried to scare it away, but it only wanted to fight me. So I ran like the dickens and locked everyone up, hoping he'd go find somewhere else to snack. Unfortunately for him, he did not make that choice.

    All of our dogs know not to mess with the chickens whatsoever. A few sniff them once in awhile, but the most curious ones got a good what for from our head rooster and slink away whenever he comes into view. I don't necessarily run the dogs with the chickens, but they do go back there and check things out from time to time. Mind you, all the "farm" animals live on a fenced two acres - the horses, donkeys, goats, chickens, ducks, and geese. So there's a lot going on back there that I would assume would deter any would-be assasins.

    Knock on wood, I've never had a hawk take a chicken or a chick and we have a rather large family of red tailed hawks that live in the trees right beside the barn. We have a wide variety of predators around here and the only time I had a mass killing by a wild animal was last year when a small oppossum was wreaking havoc in the coop. It was pitch black in there (at night, of course) and the chickens had nowhere to escape. The luckiest ones were clinging to the top of the rafters and a few still roost up there every single night. We have lots of cedar and elm trees back there and the chickens are able to run for cover if they feel a threat and they can go into their coop any time they feel the need. I do lock it up at night, though. Plus, the donkeys are not fond of furry little animals, so there's another security measure.

    I would not trade my dogs for anything, although (and this will sound weird), I wish they were a tad bit meaner. Anytime anyone comes over, they're all wagging butts and kiss kiss kiss. I joke that if anyone ever tried to kill me, I might be able to get away, but only because the dogs were trying to get the person to pet them. So I suppose unless a skunk or oppossum was trying to best me, I need to learn karate or something. ~ Oaknim

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