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Predator proofing (especially raccoons)

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by KDOGG331, Jan 7, 2015.

  1. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    I wasn't sure if this would go under coops or here but figured I'd put it here.

    Anyways, I have my coop mostly planned (here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/944000/what-size-coop-would-you-suggest-update/40) but I've been thinking a lot about predator proofing lately and watched a show on Netflix last night that really got me thinking about it.

    The show was by PBS: Nature called Raccoon Nation and while it was mostly just about urban raccoons and tracking their movements, etc. etc., it also talked about how incredibly smart and adaptable they are (and how the more deterrents we come up with to keep them out of trash & stuff may actually be making them smarter) and I of course got really nervous and thought about my future chickens. xD

    So of course I'd like ideas to help deter these smart raccoons and, of course, other predators.

    I know there's a lot of posts and articles on this and I know the basics, like hardware cloth instead of chicken wire, burying the hardware cloth under the run or making a skirt so predators can't dig in, covering the run so hawks can't get in, not leaving food out to attract rodents, etc., etc., but after seeing how smart raccoons are, I'm nervous this won't be enough.

    For instance, what about the nest boxes? I'm planning on having those stick out of the coop with the typical opening roof but after seeing the intelligence, I'm not sure a traditional latch or carabiner clip would work? I'm honestly thinking of just padlocking the door xD I feel like that's a bit extreme though; Is there anything else short of padlocking I can try? Or should I do it?

    I've never really seen many, if any, raccoons in the area but I'm sure they exist and will be around a lot more often with chickens in the area.

    We also have more coyotes lately, foxes, skunks, and... I think that's it. We have hawks but I haven't seen any in a long time. Maybe they'll come back with the addition of chickens though. I'm sure we have snakes but I've only ever seen one and a few skins and they were Garter snakes. As for "non-predators but potentially still a nuisance or threat", we have a lot of squirrels and chipmunks, as well as deer, turkey, rabbits, songbirds, etc. We're one of the only houses left (besides the road behind us) when they built the condos (a long time ago though) and set back in the woods so we're kinda basically like a nature preserve. xD Especially with the addition of another company's condos very recently (like..still working on them), essentially destroying what little woods there were besides our property. So yeah.

    Anyways, help?

    Do you think my current ideas are secure enough?

    I was also thinking of getting one of those predator light things.

    I might also set up a game camera in a few places just to see what sort of predators we do, in fact, have, before we get the birds.

    Oh and there's a few neighbor's and/or stray cats that frequent our property too; I think they like our cat. or the hunting grounds. or both.

    I'm also planning on free ranging them, if that makes a difference. I know a lot of people lose birds that way but the eggs are healthier and I will be watching them with close supervision.

    thanks
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2015
  2. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you properly build your coop, and properly attach the hardware cloth over the window/vent openings, you will have no trouble. A coon, slick as they are, will not be able to open and remove a carabiner clipped onto a hasp lock. After I built my coop, when I would come out in the morning to let the birds out, I could see the muddy little paw prints from the coons looking for a way in. They never found one.
    Now, after a couple of daytime attacks from the fox, my birds don't freerange anymore. But, they have plenty of open space to roam on. My coop is now surrounded with 650' of electrified poultry net. So ground preds don't even get close to the coop anymore. A fox can wipe out a small flock in one afternoon. They can be bold enough to run up and take one, with you standing right there. You could shoot them, but there will always be another one to take his place. That's why I went with the poultry net. I can't be there all the time, and i don't want to keep my birds locked in the coop.
     
  3. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    Thanks for the info :)

    That's what I thought too but then I wasn't sure because one of them managed to unzip a tent enough to get in. But maybe I should try the clip or something else simple like that first before jumping straight to a padlock hahah

    The netting sounds like a good idea. I was planning to fence in our yard or buy some sort of temporary fence/net or something so perhaps I'll have to look into that stuff. Although if it's too expensive, my dad won't want to do it. Maybe we could see if we have issues first then try. Also, will it hurt the dog? and how do you go around it? i ask because our property's/yard's sort of a weird shape and only like an acre is grass, 1 1/2 or 2 is wooded, and we sometimes like to walk through it so I'm wondering if we fenced the yard if we'd be able to get past it and walk around? although i guess we could always just walk down the driveway and enter on one of the paths instead of through the yard but still.

    anyways, those are all good ideas so thanks.

    oh and i know foxes (and coyotes) can be bold and, as you said, take them right in front of you, but would they do the same with the dog out there too?
     
  4. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The netting is not cheap. But, you can surround a much larger area, for far less $$$ it would cost if you built a wood framed, hardware cloth fence. You could do what I did. I started with 300' of the fence, and over the next couple of years, I bought 350' more, to spread out the cost a bit. As far as you going through the fence, Premier sells gate kits, so you can go through the fence easily. Before I got the gate, I would have to de-energise the fence to go in. The gate kit was a really cool addition to the fence. As far as your dog and the fence goes, I have a dog here, he is kind of hardheaded (English Bulldog) it took him getting zapped twice, to learn to stay away from the fence. The fence, with over 7000Vs, will zap you good, but there is no lasting damage from it, no burns or anything like that. But you don't want to get bit by it again. It has got me a few times, for being a bit careless around it, but it's not that big a deal. As far as a fox attacking your flock when your dog is out there, I guess it would depend on the dog you have, and if the fox is afraid of him.
     
  5. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    Thanks again for the info. The hardware cloth fence is a good idea but we're using an old dog kennel as the run for that reason (saving money) so I'm not sure if he'd want to do that, plus the yard is pretty big so it would take a lot of time to do the whole yard, but maybe one day. I'm sure it would be a lot cheaper than going out and buying a "normal" fence too. Buying things a little at a time is a good idea too. I didn't know they made gates for them, that definitely is pretty cool. If we do that, I'll have to look into the gates. Yeah, I'm sure mine would learn pretty quickly too. At least hopefully. That's good it won't do damage though. I've experienced being zapped, with the electric fence at the barn I ride at. Been zapped twice. xD Also from being careless; not paying attention when I open the gate and getting zapped. xD it hurt pretty good and i was a little bit shaken up the first time but you're right, no lasting damage. Foxes seem pretty bold so I doubt they'd be afraid of him :/ but hopefully they would be. He's half black Lab, half Great Pyrenees so some natural instinct with guarding but also birding instincts xD he's never been around birds and we've unfortunately triggered the word ("Gator, bird!") and he loves to chase them off his yard.. :/ buuuuuuttttt.. he's very smart, although independent, and also lazy and fed plenty, so I'm hoping that by avoiding using the hot button word and instead using "chickens" or something, or just nothing at all, and with some training, he'll learn that these aren't "birds" but things to protect. Or at least things that aren't going away and that also live on your property. I'll be getting them as chicks so hopefully I'll have plenty of time to teach him they're much more fun to ignore. I'm hoping it will be easy as he gets bored/lazy easily. Like he chases the cat too but only a few steps to the next room and the wild birds, it's only a few feet until they move to a tree or whereever, so I'm hoping that the chickens will quickly become boring. He loves to just sit outside and lay in the yard too, and gets up and barks at "threats", like people walking by, so I'm hoping I can use that to my advantage and get him to just lay out there with them. And that his presence will be enough to deter a predator. Or even one step further, that he will bark and/or try to attack, said predator and protect them. Although I'm not sure I want him attacking predators as I'm worried he'll be injured. His mom had a flock of goats though so, again, hopefully I can use these natural instincts to my advantage. Anyways, thanks for the info.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2015

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