Putting a puppy in with chickens to acclimate and help with predators

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by davehaag, Sep 23, 2015.

  1. davehaag

    davehaag New Egg

    Jun 7, 2014
    Okay, I love this site. Read stuff on here all the time. New to posting a thread so forgive my ignorance.
    We have been raising chickens the last couple of years. This year we have had 16 chickens killed by what I can figure are coons because I have trapped and killed 16 coons this year. Eye for an eye.
    I know I am going to get told "you just need to secure your coop better" or "it could easily be something else".
    Like I said I have trapped and killed 16 coons this year. Have them on trail cameras when I was trying to figure out what was killing our chickens. It is a very long story but lets just say, we started with 4 chickens last year. No problems. They stayed in the coop at night and free ranged during the day. No problems, no dead chickens. This year we decided to get more and my wife and kids got 9 more. Our coop consists of a old barn stall that has been converted into a coop with a fenced run but we let them out during the day. When we got the new ones I sectioned off half the stall the "babies" who were at least two months when I put them out there. They could see the adult chickens from last year but they were not in direct contact. Then I let them all out when they were about 4 months. The new chickens went off on their own but decided they would rather roost in the rafters then the coop. Then they started getting killed so I put trail cameras out to see what it was. Lot's of coons. One momma with 5 babies. From what I can tell they ganged up and pushed them out of the rafters while the others killed them. They did not touch the older ones in the coop. Until one night they killed 3 of the four. I figured out how they were getting in the coop and thought I had fixed it but when we got 5 more they killed 4 of them. The last one that lived was dragged under one of the boards and remarkably lived. That leaves us one adult from last year, one that is about 6 months old and one that was the one dragged under the board that now stays inside till we figure a way to put it out in the coop.
    My thought was to get a puppy to put in with now grown chickens. They can protect themselves just fine and figured the puppy, like a Australian shepherd would learn to see them as family.
    My wife doesn't want us to get a barn dog with fears it will wonder off and get shot or run over. We are in the country and I grew up with dogs outside so I am not afraid of that.
    Okay, lay it on me!
    We have barn cats that have not been a problem. They are afraid of the chickens so I seriously doubt they are the issue.
    I should clarify on the coons killing the chickens. Most of the time they killed them or bit their heads off but did not eat them. Not all of them but most. I do believe that is a factor for you that know what you are doing.
  2. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Dogs are social animals that will want to be part of your family, not live with chickens. Unless you are committed to caring properly for a dog you might want to consider other options. Including, yes, securing your coop from predators. It can be done with some effort on your part in figuring out the weaknesses of your coop.
  3. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    An Australian Sherpherd is a herding breed not a guarding breed. If you are going to attempt keeping a dog to guard your chickens, you need to do a LOT of research. An appropriate livestock guard dog can solve a lot of predator problems. But, even a well bred livestock guard dog can take up to a year to train properly. You can not just buy a puppy and put it with your chickens for protection......
  4. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 20, 2014
    An unsupervised puppy can do more harm than good ... they don't realize that "playing" with the fuzzy squeaky toys is bad ... especially when they stop chirping! They take 1-2 YEARS to train properly, and to be trustworthy ...

    Australian Shepard would not be my first choice ... some people have them, and they do well with them ... but think about this ... what happens when the "Coon Family" shows up and "gangs up on it"?

    It certainly would make some racket alerting you of a problem, then you could go out with lead poisoning ...

    Most coon hunting dogs "usually" hate coons, and don't bother birds ... it's not a hard and fast rule ... most coon dogs are bigger than the Australian Shepard ... but two would still be much better ... more than one coon dog has died from a fight with a coon ...

    A Yellow Black Mouth Cur, or a Old Tyme Scottish Collie are all around farm working dog, although the YBMC is also a hunting dog ... they are sociable with people, but protect "their" stuff and land ... Most of the traditonal sheep protecting dogs, are big, and work best with lots of acreage ... they like to wander if they get bored "guarding" only a dozen chickens ...

    Or you could just buy some more fencing ...or put up electric fencing ... and keep the area population lower by continuing to trap ...
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2015
  5. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    I have Australian Shepherds. One I would trust with any animal after proper introductions.

    The other one is a poultry murderer! No amount of training has done any good. So, she is kept away from the chickens at all times......
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Secure night coop is obviously needed.

    Trained dog might help, can't just throw a puppy in the coop....takes 1-2 years of the proper training to end up with a good dog.
  7. davehaag

    davehaag New Egg

    Jun 7, 2014
    Wow! I guess I asked for it.
    First of all, my barn is only about 200' from my house at the most. I am out there at a minimum twice a day to let chickens in and out, feed cows etc etc.
    The comment about dogs being social animals. Although I was raised in the country not on a real farm I am not stupid. My chickens are very social as are my cows. They like to be around human beings so using that logic I need to build a stall and chicken coop inside my house so they can be "social":)
    We had chickens growing up much in the same set-up I have now. A stall converted into a chicken coop. The dogs, a dalmation and Lhasa Apso stayed outside with one exception and that is if it was extremely cold like 5 below. Otherwise they had a dog house in the barn surrounded by straw with good bedding and we never had a problem with that. Never had any chickens get killed by coons growing up either. Had horses back then rather than cattle but I doubt that has anything to do with it. All food is in sealed containers and they have never gotten into that.
    As far as what type of dog to get I will be getting one from a rescue, shelter or someone that has some pups they don't want. I have bought several dogs from breeders and refuse to ever do so again. So all the high dollar dogs that are named are out of the question. The reason for a puppy is so it grows up around the chickens. I have watched them around the barn cats which would be about the same size or bigger than a 8-10 week old pup. The chickens are definitely in control. I have seen the same thing when we had a 4.5lb Chihuahua and Rottweiler puppy. Even when that Rott weighed 90 lbs, that Chihuahua was in charge. So that is my line of thinking and where it comes from.
    We never trained any dogs growing up. They were just there from a puppy on. I don't need a dog to work cattle or heard the chickens into the coop. It would be an outdoor pet to stay out there and help deter the varmints. I am in the barn all the time or outdoors, cutting wood, mowing, fixing fence or fixing something else out in the field. So the dog would obviously get plenty of attention for those of you all worried about the poor dog that lives outside. For god's sake, do you think they are better off locked in a cage/kennel all day so they can be inside but let out once the owner get's home? I see that a lot and have absolutely no doubt them living outside is more humane.
    Okay, off my bucket now.
  8. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    All of our comments were centered around your statement about getting a puppy and putting it in with now grown chickens that can take care of themselves.......

    Good luck!
  9. Texas37

    Texas37 New Egg

    Sep 8, 2015
    I've seen a lone raccoon charge my 85 pound American Bulldog. So I wouldn't recommend using a puppy as a deterrent to raccoons. They are just as likely to be injured or killed, especially if there is more than 1 raccoon. Maybe, if you could find an adult dog to rescue that has proven their temperament to be ok with chickens, that would work. It really boils down to the temperament and with a puppy you have no idea what you're getting. I would try to secure their coop another way first.
  10. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

    Jun 24, 2012
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! @zazouse has livestock protection dogs, I bet she might have some good suggestions for you.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by