Raccoon(s) living in our big red barn & future home of our chickens

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by chicka_chicka_boom_boom, Aug 7, 2008.

  1. chicka_chicka_boom_boom

    chicka_chicka_boom_boom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2008
    Eaton County, MI
    Hello,

    We are in the process of buying an 8 acre farm with a big red barn on the property. I'm hoping to use part of the barn as a home for chickens. There is a lower level (basement) with animal stalls in it, and I'm thinking that this will be the best place to use. We will build an enclosed coop inside the barn and make it as secure as possible.

    The barn has been out of use for years, and it is full of debris, old hay, wood, etc. The sellers are cleaning out the barn as part of the sale agreement ("the best that they can"). The barn is also in need of some major repair (jacking it up and reinforcing the floor supports), which is another story. Now to my question...

    Upon inspecting the barn, we found that there is at least one big fat raccoon living up in the very top of the barn. He was sleeping up there when we were there at mid-day, and then he just turned around to glare at us and move into the corner of the roof area/rafters.

    We have to create a safe place for chickens, and we don't even officially own the property yet, but I wondered what kind of plan I should be going in there with. I don't know WHAT else might be living in that barn right now. There are barn swallows swooping all around in the lower level, but we didn't actually see anything else in there yet.

    Aside from the obvious, building a fortress to protect the hens, is there any thing else that you can do to keep the coons and other predators out of your barn? I've read about keeping bigger animals around to scare them off. I'm willing to look into larger livestock in the future, but we are city folk right now, and don't want to take on too much too soon, at the detriment of any animals we keep. Also, my husband is just coming around to the ideas of chickens. He's not yet too keen on anything else, except for a dog.

    Sorry if I'm asking an obvious question, but I didn't know what to do first... trap the coon? Kill it? Co-exist with it? He was there first, after all... we haven't even signed the papers yet! It could be another 6 weeks before we even move in. Maybe the noise and commotion of cleaning out and repairing the barn will scare all the critters away...

    Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. Ugly Cowboy

    Ugly Cowboy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2008
    Corn, OK
    Maybe yall can make some real nice coon skin hats! And, trust me, roast coon is delicious!!! That'd be my plan, anyway.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2008
  3. Carolyn

    Carolyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 6, 2008
    I suspect your chickens will be safer free ranging and sleeping in a secure place away from the barn than they will ever be in an old barn. Snakes, rats and various other "varmits" likely have their entrances.

    When I was a child we bought the neighboring farm and as a temporary measure my dad put our rabbits in a well built stall in the barn. The next time we saw our baby rabbits they were bulges in a snake our faithful dog grabbed behind the neck to shake it to death.

    I've been around farms all my life and chickens might visit the barn but if you want to keep up with your chickens and find your eggs most folks I know housed their chickens elsewhere.

    Get the dog. Possibly coexsist with the racoon but do some target practice just in case.

    Just my opinion.
     
  4. shelleyb1969

    shelleyb1969 Star Bright Farm

    I live in the Michigan thumb now, but I'm originally from Tennessee...and I have NEVER seen so many raccoons in my life! I have the exact same barn as you. I do have 2 horses which inhabit my lower level stalls, and I have a minimal amount of hay stored in the loft. But during the summer, I trap AT LEAST 1 coon/month, and during the winter...oh my gosh...AT LEAST 3/MONTH! I just don't have the heart to kill them, so I just relocate them....far, far, far away! I've tried everything from keeping livestock in the barn, to getting barn cats, to spraying repellents, to leaving a radio on all night...nothing's worked. I'll be interested to hear of anyone else's ideas on how to repel them...
     
  5. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    In Michigan you can keep killing them and there will still be too many coons.

    Trap and dispatch, repeat frequently.
     
  6. chicka_chicka_boom_boom

    chicka_chicka_boom_boom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2008
    Eaton County, MI
    Quote:I was really hoping we had somewhat of a "headstart" with the pre-existing building... thought we could make a nice, secure coop inside the barn, maybe in the lower level where it will be insulated and sheltered from the cold wind in the winter.

    Also in Michigan, my sister has her chickens just in the big barn, but she also has 3 cows and 5 goats. She hasn't lost any chickens to predators yet, but they also have not started laying... we'll see how much egg-hunting she ends up doing.

    Hmmmm...
     
  7. chicka_chicka_boom_boom

    chicka_chicka_boom_boom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2008
    Eaton County, MI
    Quote:Do you house your chickens in the barn or in a separate space altogether? You say that you're trapping raccoons... are they getting your chickens, or are you preventing this with the traps? Sorry if this is an obvious question...
     
  8. bluey

    bluey thootp veteran

    Apr 10, 2008
    Washington, PA
    Wow....as much as keeping chickens in a big barn might sound like a nice idea, the thought of predator proofing a structure that large could be a little intimidating considering that raccoons are adept climbers and that most barns have lots of openings....

    If I was you, I'd probably use a smaller structure for chickens. One that would be easier to keep secure...
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2008
  9. chicka_chicka_boom_boom

    chicka_chicka_boom_boom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2008
    Eaton County, MI
    Quote:I wouldn't mind the coonskin hats, but I don't think I'm ready for that yet... I'm still worried about having the nerve to handle real chickens.

    I assume you're joking about the roast coon...
     
  10. chicka_chicka_boom_boom

    chicka_chicka_boom_boom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2008
    Eaton County, MI
    Quote:What about creating the smaller structure inside the barn, like converting a stall? I found a couple websites where people have done that, but maybe that would end up being more of a project than just building a freestanding coop. This is getting more complicated than I thought it was going to be...
     

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