Preventing Problems Before They Happen

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by microchick, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. microchick

    microchick Overrun With Chickens

    The end of March I'm scheduled to get our chicks, so I am in the planning stages of building our coop.

    This winter we have a pack of coyotes that have been visiting our acreage on a regular bases. We have owned our farm for over 5 years and this is the first year that they have ventured close to our yard area. In the past the local Amish men have held a predator drive and hunt, sweeping through everyone's land and eliminating as many unwanted predators as they can. They usually did a pretty decent job scoring around a dozen 'yotes, a few foxes and even one year a young cougar (back when the good people at the dept of conservation were claiming that there were no cougars in MO). Most of the men moved out to a new community so the coyote population has been growing.

    Over the last month the coyotes have been coming as close as a ravine that is behind our house and into our back pastures also within view of the house. The noise has awakened my husband and me from a sound sleep and would give Steven King a case of the chills and has set our own dogs to howling back at them.

    We are planning to build our coop as a 'room' in our barn which is about 70 feet from the house, with a secured run outside. The 'room' is going to be built off the ground about 12 inches and the run is going to be chain linked kennel panels. We will be covering the run and also burying wire and or metal stakes around the run to protect the birds from 'dig ins'. We do not plan to free range due to our own 5 dogs not being trustworthy and because of birds of prey type preditors, but are going to employ a tractor to allow them to do insect control around our orchard and arbor. We are also planning to hot wire around the coop and run.

    Do y'all think we have anything to worry about with this pack of 'yotes deciding to venture closer and have a look see at a potential chicken dinner? So far we have only heard them at night. Twice I have fired a .22 off in their direction (not lucky enough to hit one) which has scattered them and kept them away for a week or so, but they ultimately return.

    Our dogs aren't going to be much help. Two are old ladies now who are willing to raise a stink at something encroaching into their 'turf' but not much use in a fight. Our Cattle Dog tangled with a big raccoon last year and since doesn't want to be out at night and our two youngest are just young and brainless.

    What worries us is that it almost seems as though these coyotes know the dogs are there and are setting up a ruckus hoping to lure one into the woods should they be outside at night.

    I'm not nearly as concerned with raccoons/skunks/possums and the like (have a live trap and know how to use it) as I am about this pack of coyotes.

    We keep the dogs in a fenced part of the yard at night to keep them safe and carry a weapon during the day, but how do we dissuade a whole pack of coyotes from coming around our property at night and how do we absolutely assure the safety of our chickens from them?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    The only way to prevent a predator from getting a chicken is with barriers. A good fence is extremely important. Using the hot wire is a great help if you install it properly. When the power goes out it doesn’t work, but once a critter is bitten they usually don’t return so it is still a deterrent. New critters are being born all the time so it is best to leave it hot when you can.

    It’s a lot easier to totally predator proof a coop than a big run. If you spend enough money and pay attention to detail, you can do it, but it’s easy to overlook something. Even with a pretty strong run, locking them on the coop at night is further insurance.

    Many predators, including coyotes, foxes, and bobcats, hunt during the day as well as at night. When Mama has a hungry baby to feed, she needs to feed it. Your risk is greater at night but it still exists during the day.

    Just because you have predators around does not mean they will definitely wipe you out immediately. I’ve seen foxes around here in the daytime. Neighbors have seen bobcats during the day. I’ve seen coyotes right across the road in a pasture during the day several times and often hear them real close at night. I free ranged during the day for three years and only lost two chickens, I believe both to foxes, but I lock them up at night in a secure coop. What caused me to quit free ranging and get electric netting for them was dog attacks. People like to abandon dogs out in this area and I got tired of shooting dogs that were killing my chickens. I don’t like shooting dogs at all anyway, it’s not their fault. It’s the idiots that dump them in the country that causes the problem. It was not the wild animals that caused me to get the electric netting, but the abandoned dogs.
     
  3. microchick

    microchick Overrun With Chickens

    I hear you ridgerunner. The last three dogs we added to the family were all dump offs. The last two were barely 7 weeks old. The other was our ACD, one of the best dogs we've ever owned.

    Our hot wires are hooked up to a deep cell battery and the battery to a solar charger. Our 30 acres has a parameter fence, 6 strand barbed wire with some areas double wired with woven fencing. Doesn't do much if a predator is determined to get in.

    The chickens will be penned at night. I am hoping to build the coop out of metal barn siding and as stated, it will be up off the ground by at least a foot. One of the reasons we decided to run hot wire was also to teach the dogs that the coop and run are off limits big time.

    To date we have only had the coyotes come around at night. What is concerning is that they seem to come closer each time they show up as if testing the waters. The weather has been pretty cold here where we are. DH and I are talking about setting up an ambush and seeing if they show up.

    Missouri allows you to shoot nuisance coyotes. I would rather deal with them than hawks, eagles and owls which are protected.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Coyotes have denned in a ravine not that far from here. One of the neighbors shot one from her back porch during the day not that long ago. It’s not that easy to get a good shot at one. They are very careful. As long as their cattle are not in that pasture she has a safe field of fire, no risks from ricochets.

    One tactic of coyotes is to use a female in heat to lure a male dog away from the house, then the pack ambushes him and has him for supper.

    Barbed wire by itself won’t even slow a coyote, fox, or bobcat. Electric fencing will do wonders, but usually when paired with a true barrier fence to slow them down enough to get bitten.
     
  5. microchick

    microchick Overrun With Chickens

    We are talking maybe two strands of hot wire. Our two youngest dogs are escape artists which resulted in one of them getting her pelvis broken from a run in with a pick up truck last year. We hot wired the front parameter fence 6-8 inches above the ground and the minute the dogs tried to nose through the barbed wire they had a rude awakening.

    I figure that if we put one strand about 5 inches above the ground and off set them a bit so the second wire is 8 inches or so above ground and farthest away from the pen, one way or another, anything trying to get through the fence or burrow under the fence will get shocked.

    I wish we could find where this pack is denned up. We need to walk the ravine and I am suspicious of the next door neighbors empty house and barn, especially the barn at this point. We always hear them to the north and east of our home which is where the nearest neighbor's property is.

    Tonight the game camera is going up behind the house near the ravine. Hopefully we will get a few pictures of them when they come through again.

    If they continue to be a nuisance I will probably call the conservation department and see if they can offer any solutions to the problem.
     
  6. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is the 30 acre fence around your farm electrified? If not, maybe you can unstaple the bottom 2 wires and hang them on insulators and hook them up to the charger.
     
  7. microchick

    microchick Overrun With Chickens

    That would be tough to do as much of the fencing is going through timber and ravines. Right now only the front property line is hot to keep the dogs out of the road. I love hot wire. It solves a multitude of problems.
     
  8. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree with the electric fence being a good deterrent, and electrified poultry netting is wonderful if daytime ground predators are an issue. We have coyotes here, not seen often, but they do sing at night. My dogs are large and very well fenced, and the chickens have a very secure coop, and a fairly secure daytime run. They free range most days, unless a hawk visits, or another daytime critter shows up. I'm grateful that we don't (yet) have bears, wolves, or cougars here; that would be more challenging and require much more secure electric fencing! Keeping poultry is a constant balancing act as far as managing predators is concerned, not to mention the rodents. Mary
     
  9. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    I also think that eliminating outdoor food sources is essential; no cat, dog, or chicken feed available for unwanted visitors. Mary
     

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