Protecting our chickens

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by kressg23, May 16, 2008.

  1. kressg23

    kressg23 In the Brooder

    May 12, 2008
    Hi all! I've been reading this board trying to learn more from all of you and as you can expect, I have questions. [​IMG] My kids would be devastated if something were to happen to our new babies, so I'd like to protect them as best I can. Does anyone have cats? And if so, how do you teach the cats to stay away from the chickens? I found a dead bird in my garage a couple days ago and thought CRAP! My cats are bird killers. Do the chickens eventually learn to protect themselves against other household pets? My dh will be building our run today and judging by his plan for it, it's tiny. He wants our chickens to mostly be able to wander our yard, which is fine with me, but after reading more here, I'm wondering if maybe that's not such a good idea? We live on 2.5 acres, so space isn't an issue. Though building a bigger run will take the work of moving some stuff out of the way to accommodate. Can anyone give me some advice on what would be best?
  2. You can't trust any cats, dogs, ferrets, it's just against nature. There are lots of good links in this section and we're just predator-proofing a run which you can see in my homepage link below. It's a challenge worth meeting![​IMG]
  3. poopcoop

    poopcoop Songster

    Mar 17, 2008
    Swansea, SC
    Well I would first ask if the cats were indoor cats, outdoor cats or both? Then maybe you can put them on a schedule. Cats go out in the morning, chickens go out in the afternoon.
    I would not trust cats (don't have any) or dogs (1 black lab). My dog don't bother them, but I would never leave them alone together no matter how he acts with them. I have a run for 26 chickens that is 25' squared x 5' tall. I buried 6 inches and poured concrete over it and then put a solar powered electric fence at two seperate heights.( Maybe a little over board). If anything gets close to my GIRLS then the gun comes out. I am sure you will figure out what works best for you and all BYC members are here to help.

    Good Luck,
  4. Love my Critters!

    Love my Critters! Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    Carlsbad, NM
    I think it also depends on the cat. I have 2 male 9 year old cats that live outside. One of them is an avid hunter. My neighbor has a cat named "Hunter" and she comes over as well. All of my chickens free range in the back of property. It is about 3/4 of an acre and is fenced, but the cats can easily get in there. I have had no problems with cats hurting my chickens. Right now I have 1 broody with 5- 3 week old chicks that roam around. I have another hen with 1- 5 day old chick (her first hatch), and I have 9 juveniles that are 8 weeks old that even roam in my backyard all day. So far I have not had any problems. I also have a very sweet rooster that protects all his ladies and babies too.
  5. gila_dog

    gila_dog Songster

    Aug 15, 2007
    New Mexico
    If your chickens can survive to 5 months or so the cats will probably leave them alone. I've never had cats bother adult chickens. But you will still have all the other predators to worry about, like dogs, coyotes, owls, hawks, etc. It sounds like you plan to let them free range. If that's true, then prepare yourself to lose them. Something will eventually get them if you let them free range.
    Last edited: May 16, 2008
  6. Build a coop with an enclosed run and make it impenetrable. That is all you can do. Even then some little varmit will test the perimeter of the enclosure to test for weakness. Good luck
  7. kressg23

    kressg23 In the Brooder

    May 12, 2008
    Thank you all for your replies. I think we'll be changing our minds on how this is going to work out. I may allow them to forage through the yard, only when we can supervise. Thankfully, we have tons of trees and bushes so in case something comes out of nowhere, they have lots of hiding places.
  8. redhead83402

    redhead83402 Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    kressg~ We have 2 cats, one that is indoors only, one that is indoor/outdoor, and he also is a birder. We also have cats that roam the neighborhood & hence our backyard from time to time as well.

    I have been to 3 or 4 farms in our area as well, and here is what I have seen and heard to be true for myself and at least these 4 other families ~

    if you can get the birds full grown, protecting them at ALL times prior, then once they are full-grown, the cats will not bother them. I believe this is because cats don't care for the snasty pecks they would get if they tried anything. Also, I saw one mother cat in a barn that was nestled in next a hen with 5 brand new kittens, while the hen was trying to lay an egg in her nest box. I guess the mam cat felt safe there, and obviously so did the hen. At another barn, I saw cats coming and going freely in and around the hens & roosters, ( again, all full grown), & the owners said that there weren't any problems, the cats never tried anything on them. At a third barn, I saw one cat eyeing some new baby chicks next to their mama, and I exclaimed, "oh no, won't that cat eat the little chicks?" The lady said ~ oh no, he might dream about it, but that hen would peck his eyes out if he got anywhere near them.

    At any rate, I have also noticed this ~ my cats were very interested in the chicks when they were tiny, but now that they are 6 wks old, the cats sort of just ~check them out~, but don't actually go after the. I think it's because chickens actually have quite good eyesight, and if givent he chance, would peck the cat quite painfully, but I don't know.

    Like everyone said, it's pretty important to protect the chicks whent hey are small, as they don't have a mama hen to do it for them.

    Also, dogs are pretty much a predator no matter what age the hens are at, so be forewarned. Hope this helps some ~
    We were really worried about raising chicks with our cats, and indeed, they did perch themselves on top of the brooder and sleep next to the chicks the entire time they were inside, but I think it was because of the heat lamp more than anything. We just had to ALWAYS make sure it was latched down. But we have not lost a single one to a cat yet, so if you just keep in mind that kitties love chicken flavored food, you'll be fine! {;>)=
  9. Actually kress, most predators use bushes for cover, coyotes and foxes especially. I know how lovely it is to offer free-range, but many of us have opted for high levels of biosecurity.[​IMG]
  10. Kentucky

    Kentucky In the Brooder

    Apr 16, 2008

    As some have mentioned the features of their "fortress" is the best protection. If you're interested the one I built for the wife's chickens is detailed on Page 11 of the 2008 Coup design contest.

    Since some are somewhat opposed to electric fence protection I took the photos before installing that option. However, if you desire I will send you a photo.

    Yes, we too have an old, fat, lazy cat who at present shows no interest in the chickens.

    When they are full grown they will be allowed to free range in the back yard "only" when we are home.


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