Predator proofing tips?

Dec 28, 2017
Western Wisconsin
Hey everyone! We are currently drawing out our future coop, but need some advice on predator proofing.
A little about our area:
We live down a hill with a few other houses just out of the city limits. We're on a lake, and on the other side is a wooded area with a state park a ways beyond that. Next to our house is a little gulley, where the only permanent residents are small animals, but deer often will come through. I suspect that a lot of the animals in our area move along the edge of the lake, as all of the houses are up a little ways.
Now that you now more about the sort of habitat around us, here are the predators we know we have:
-Weasels. This is the one I'm most concerned about. A few years ago one of our bunnies was killed by a weasel. It bit him in the neck, which must have killed him near instantly.
-Coyotes. I've never seen any coyotes around us or seen their prints on our side of lake, but this winter we saw all sorts of tracks on the ice. I don't think we have to worry about them, but just in case. Maybe it seems crazy, but I was also afraid that the chickens might attract the coyotes to the yard, and then they could become a threat to our little terrier.
-Raccoons. I've never seen any, but I have seen their droppings in the gulley.
-Hawks. I see them flying above the yard, however, the chickens will not be able to free-range, so I don't think this is much of an issue.
-Our neighbor's dog. Again, we won't be free-ranging, but we don't have a fence around our front yard, so I'm just worried that the dog might come over and harass the chickens while they're in their run. The dog is a lab mix who as roughed up our dog a bit before. She's sweet to humans, and I'm guessing she'll get bored with them after a while, we just need to make our run strong enough in the beginning.
-Our dog. Our jack russell is small and old, but he's killed birds before. Like the neighbor's dog, he'll probably just yip at them for a while and then get bored.
Sorry if this is a lot—I just wanted to get all the details straight. Most of this can be cured by just ensuring that the coop and run are secure, but I am a total newbie. I know nothing. I'm in need of some serious tips and tricks as well as just general ways to build a sturdy chicken palace.


Folly's place

11 Years
Sep 13, 2011
southern Michigan
It's best to plan ahead, good for you!
Build as large as you can, because 'chicken math' is a real thing; from four to forty doesn't take long for many of us!
A Woods coop is the best design ever; wish I had one! Look it up and see if it's possible for you.
Second best is a shed type design, with lots of ventilation and a larger attached roofed run. No openings larger than 1/2" diameter anywhere, at least in the main coop section.
Tall enough to walk in, and a dig-proof foundation.
Plan for those weasels, rats, and mink. Also bears need electric fencing, if they are nearby. Big dogs and raccoons need well attached hardware cloth, with 2"x4" woven wire over it, also well attached.
Roofing keeps many critters out, and chickens despise snow, so an uncovered run will be ignored in winter, unless you love to shovel every day.
Electric fencing to keep out the neighbor's dogs, so you don't have to take more drastic action against them. Everyone loves chicken!!!


Free Ranging
5 Years
Aug 30, 2017
Poplar Bluff, MO
My Coop
My Coop
Another thought: If the coop is being built from scratch, how do you seal the door against the cold and predators?

Just make sure no gap is bigger than 1/2" to keep predators out. As others have said you need good draft free ventilation in the winter to allow the moisture out so they don't get frostbite in their combs. Remember a chicken comes with a down filled variable thickness blanket built in and a higher core temperature than us.


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