Skunk Keeps visiting Chickens

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by swmalone, Jun 22, 2017.

  1. swmalone

    swmalone Songster

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    So a little background.

    We live within city limits in a small rural town. We have a field, currently planted in wheat, on the back side of a 6 foot vinyl fence, which serves as the back side of our chicken yard. The rest of the chicken yard is enclosed with 1" x 2" opening 4' welded wire. The coop is based on the wichita cabin coop that I found on here. I did have a solar powered, auto coop door for the chicken coop door, but the chickens kept breaking off the wires attached to the reed switches so I have been opening and closing it manually. It has been getting light, and hot earlier and earlier and in the 6 years we have had chickens we have never noticed any issues other than the occasional hawk that got the girls riled up. I had been leaving the doors to the coop open to let the girls come and go as they please and to help with the heat.

    Now the issue. A couple weeks ago at about 3 or 4 am I had the window open and all the sudden heard the chickens making a racket. I knew something was up so my wife and I ran out to see what was going on. A couple of the girls had already run out into the chicken yard and were making a racket. My wife was so concerned about the other girls that she rushed to open the front coop door so we could check. I have seen enough movies where the raccoon comes flying out to eat your face that I stopped her. I got a large push broom that was near the coop and opened the door, spotted the skunk in the nest box and quickly closed the coop. There were no eggs for the skunk, so I was worried that it was going after the girls. The skunk then came out and hid under our shed that was adjacent to our chicken yard. Fast forward a couple of weeks to last night and before they were going to bed they started doing their predator warnings. I kept looking around, was beating around under lilac bushes, searching all over the place and couldn't find anything. I kept watching and then all of the sudden a skunk came out from under the overgrown lilacs that I had been beating on earlier and walked along the back of the vinyl fence and went out into the field. I did a makeshift block of where it went out but this morning I noticed that there was a freshly dug location under the vinyl fence.

    Okay now the questions.

    1. What are some ideas for inexpensively securing the chicken yard?
    2. Anyone have any good ideas for additional automation of the coop door, so that we can occasionally leave on overnight trips? I don't trust my neighbors enough to take care of them for us.
    3. What should I do if that skunk is actually living on our small (1/5 acre) lot, perhaps under our shed. Poison is out due to the large number of free roaming domestic animals and guns are a no go.

    Been a while since I have been on the site, but always appreciate the resources on here.
     
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

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    'Inexpensive' is relative! Your skunk will keep returning and likely start killing chickens at night, and every other predator can also get in there and could kill all of tem at once. More coop ventilation is essential; open it up with well secured hardware cloth! Lock them in every evening, at least until you upgrade your run. A lot! Electric poultry fencing is good, and live trapping and shooting that skunk for now. Don't trap and release!!! Mary
     
  3. Frazzemrat1

    Frazzemrat1 Free Ranging

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    how is he getting in the yard? under the fence? You need predator skirting if that's the case! Something that extends out several feet; either straight down and buried or out for the grass to grow through.
     
    gila_dog and Wickedchicken6 like this.
  4. swmalone

    swmalone Songster

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    I do have the windows all secured with hardware cloth, just need to be sure to remember to open and close them as necessary. The small attached run on the coop is very secure, it is just the run area that takes up half our yard that is surrounded by the welded wire fence that I'm concerned about. Even though we only have 5 chickens we always just feel bad when we only leave them in the enclosed coop/run during the day. The run is around 40 square feet and the coop is around 15 square feet not including the nest box. I have been considering electric fencing but just not of the best locations to place it and how to set it up. We can't shoot them within city limits and even if we could my wife is very anti-killing them if it is possible. I was thinking of live trapping and then hauling them several miles away and releasing them by a river.
     
  5. swmalone

    swmalone Songster

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    I was going to pick up some hardware cloth for the vinyl fence, the problem is how to attach it to the vinyl fence without messing up the fence. Also I'm limited on how deep I can dig in that area due to the cable and phone lines running along the back of the property. I was thinking of trying to dig maybe about 6 inches down and adding hardware cloth then placing bricks or blocks on top of the buried hardware cloth. I also have thought of adding a small electric wire just a couple inches off the ground along the perimeter. I would just need to do research on that and I would like to be able to make sure it is only on at night, and not lethal because I don't want to have any of community cats get fried to death.
     
  6. Frazzemrat1

    Frazzemrat1 Free Ranging

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    Keep in mind, if you have the bricks on top of the hardware cloth, then you defeat the purpose. An animal will only start digging just beyond the bricks. My run is surrounded with the wire on of the ground. I then seeded grass, and it grew up through the wire, hiding it from view. How to secure it to the fence, I don't know. I know there are a couple of people with coops on here where they have electric fencing.
     
  7. getaclue

    getaclue Crossing the Road

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    1. I highly recommend electric fencing 4 - 6 inches off the ground, and you can put it on a timer, so it's only on at night. This will not only stop the current skunk situation, but future predators as well. 2. To deal with the current skunk situation get Ex lax chocolate.
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/TO-BE-DE...75035&wl11=online&wl12=17325205&wl13=&veh=sem
    Set that out in the evening, around the time you notice that the skunk had been active. Let the skunk eat the laxative. It will mess where it's been holed up, and sleeping, and leave.
     
    IdyllwildAcres likes this.
  8. swmalone

    swmalone Songster

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    Any idea on what the laxative would do to domesticated critters like cats? Also any links to that electric fencing you mentioned?

    As to the hardware cloth on the ground let me see if I can explain it a bit better. I was going to dig down about 6 inches on the inside of the vinyl fence, since the other side isn't my property. Then I was going to lay out the hardware cloth and run it up the inside of the fence as well. then bury it with 6 inches of soil and place the bricks on top on the inside of the fence, mostly to keep the chickens from tearing it up. They love digging and rolling around right next to the vinyl fence, which makes it even easier for the skunks to get into the yard under the fence.
     
  9. TinyBirds

    TinyBirds Songster

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    Can you photo the coop for us? I just need to see how the skunk got into the coop itself. Usually they only come to any accessible nest boxes for the eggs at night. If the coop and nest boxes are secured at dark, i dont see how it got in. They do come right at dark, so if you are late to close the coop door, just check the nestboxes before closing it up to be sure its not in there.
     
  10. swmalone

    swmalone Songster

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    Northern Utah
    They way they got into the coop was because I left both the human and chicken door open. As I mentioned I had been leaving them open because I was lazy and wanted to let the girls come and go as they wanted and it has been getting hot so figured opened doors would help. I have since been closing them up and night and no issues with the skunk getting in the coop but it is still just hanging around and getting into the chicken yard area.

    Also an update. Pretty sure it is living under a shed that is in our backyard just outside of the chicken yard. I saw it's fluffy tail sneak under there a few minutes ago when I was out checking on my garden. Now the girls are going berserk in the chicken yard.
     

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