Protecting against Predators without a Perimeter Fence

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MrsWeasley, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. MrsWeasley

    MrsWeasley Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 26, 2012
    I have just really started researching about raising chickens and really hope to start this spring. I live on a heavily wooded acre lot with no perimeter fencing (and due to aesthetics and cost I don't want a perimeter fence) with a pond and a backyard that opens up to a forest preserve (though we have neighbors on our street and across our street). Due to the forest preserve, we have predators like whoa. It's not unusual to see a coyote in my backyard during the middle of the day, I constantly see raptors, and we've had epic battles with raccoons. I want to protect my chickens from drowning or predators, but I also would like to raise chickens in such a way that they can forage. I've looked at chicken tractors and domes, but I worry about the tight confinement and also weather that could really keep out a predator like a coyote. Any suggestions on what might be the best housing situation or what resources to use to get more ideas?
  2. GardenGal

    GardenGal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2011
    Western WA
    You can build some pretty big chicken tractors. One couple I knew had a big old tractor they moved once a week. Maybe a minimal fence and a well trained guard animal? Predators are incredibly resourceful, and they have all the time in the world to go after your flock. Good luck!
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I would use an predator-evasive chicken breed, mixed sex flock, dog(s) confined by invisible fencing, and roost location that can be designed / managed to be ressistant to nocturnal predators.

    My flock is kept with some members always free-range in a heavily patrolled area by predators. I have some acreage and had to invest time particularly on dog side. Some losses still incurred but at tolerable levels. Disease still my biggest challenge which is large because I routinely hatch my own birds.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012
  4. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2011
    A secure coop for night time is a must,I would add to that a secure run as large as you can manage. That gives you security for vacations, bad weather, and when you're just too busy to let them out. There is a portable netting type electric fence for chickens that would work for the land predators, but do nothing about the raptors. The only protection that I can think of for the raptors would be to spend the time with your dog to ensure that its chicken safe and hope it would keep the hawks,ect away. In a situation like this the only half way safe way to "free range" chickens is in a tractor. By the time you get a tractor safe enough to leave them in it overnight its going to be too heavy to easily move around, so I would concentrate on making it large, easily moved, and safe enough for daytime use and house the chickens at night in a coop/run. Basically a wire box on wheels with a sun shade over part of it.
  5. ChezPoulez

    ChezPoulez Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 22, 2011
    Mill Valley, California
    Roosters are a must, as they keep watch and will sound the alert to something coming overhead. My rooster used to alert when the motorized hang gliders would go over our land. If they see a shadow pass overhead, they notify everyone to duck and run!

    You can also make your land unfriendly to other flying birds by hanging long streamers of the bird repellent mylar ribbon, those reflective 'eye' thingies, pinwheels, or anything else the moves and blows in the wind. I've 3 of those big plastic owls impaled on fiberglass garden stakes that [so far] have kept the crows and hawks out of the yard. Before the owls were in place a hawk got one of my Silkies, 3 feet from my door, so it wasn't the least concerned with coming in close to the house.

    The coyotes are going to be your biggest problem as they have little fear, and are crazy persistent. They will come anytime during the day or night too. We've got folks in town who can't let their kids out to play as the coyotes are sleeping in their bushes during the day, and growl at them if they try to throw rocks to spook them away.

    Try one or two of those cool motion sensor sprinkler heads. If water came on randomly and sprayed them it might be enough to spook them to stay back. Add lot of windchimes too, perhaps sound may work too.

    A university site about coyotes said that Vick's Vaporub saturated strips of rags tied down low at nose height on shrubs or stakes would be an objectionable smell. Gotta love Vick's!

    I attach large goat/cow bells to the latches of my chicken coop so if the raccoons try to get in at night I can flip on some lights to scare them off.

    Rather than a heavy movable tractor, which honestly, is going to get old real fast, consider building one centrally located coop that is convenient for you, secure from predators, with a fenced outdoor run for vacations and rainy days. If the chickens become a lot of work, you aren't going to enjoy them. Remember, that just because you have the stomach flu, migraines, or threw your back out, someone will still have to go out to let them out, feed and water them, so do you really want to haul a tractor around your property too?

    LOL, I know, I'm a buzz kill! Seriously consider that oramge perforated plastic fencing stuff that is temporary around building sites for erosion control. You can easily drive some fiberglass garden stakes in the ground and unroll it around the stakes so they have a large yard. Leave that in place until the greenery looks well mowed, then unroll the temporary fencing to enclose the next adjacent block of space and repeat. If you do it this way every other week or so, they won't eat down all the plants to bare dirt and then things will recover in time to cycle back to that area again. It also will train them to stay relatively close to their coop. The farther they wander, the more at risk they will be in your predator rich neighborhood.
  6. MrsWeasley

    MrsWeasley Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 26, 2012
    Roosters: I had thought I wouldn't get roosters due to fear of noise bothering the neighbors and worried about the rooster being aggressive with my young children, but are there breeds of roosters that would be aggressive enough to protect the hens but still get along okay with a toddler and is also relatively quiet? What breeds are predator-evasive, good with kids, and produce a lot of eggs? We don't currently have a dog, but we've been thinking about it anyway. Can anyone point me to resources about training a dog to guard the chickens? Thank you for all the wonderful ideas!
  7. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    Roosters are not the final answer to predators. I lost a bunch of chickens in two separate daylight attacks, and the roosters (Two different ones), survived both attacks. If you are in a predator rich environment, you may want to install some kind of perimeter fence. I, myself went with electrified poultry netting from Premier. I have a 100'X100' safe area for the chickens to run around in. As far as hawks go, I have seen as long as the birds have places to hide under, hawks are not too big a problem (Not for me anyway). They can see a threat and give a warning out to the others, almost, if not as good as a rooster.
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    When you are trying to keep birds in a predator rich environment, management to co control losses needs to be integrated involving constant vigilince and a range of anti-predator control measures, not just one. Presently I keep my birds out without perimeter fencing during the production season but will be using electrified poultry netting on some. A single method will not suppress all predators but some methods can be used to target your most consistent trouble makers.

    Additionally, with respect to roosters, they suppress losses to hawks (not anything else) and provide alarm system for dogs and me since alarmed roosters stay out (mine do) and give alarm vocalizations specific to type of predator and its location. Hens are not so informative and dogs need all the help they can get.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by