Skunk stalking my pen

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Birdydeb, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. Birdydeb

    Birdydeb Chillin' With My Peeps

    So, I knew it was a deal of put the chickens outside and they(meaning predators) will come. First it has been the hawks. No surprise there. They have a covered run but everyday without fail the hawks come and circle around over the coop enough to throw shadows on the ground and run everyone back inside the coop. Everyday I inspect roof line and top of run to make sure there are no gaps that an overachieving hawk might find. So now yesterday afternoon I was looking out my kitchen window and observed my RIR rooster standing stock still as a statue watching the grass outside the back of the run. All of the chickens had run to the other side of the run. I watched him for several minutes and he never it occurred to me....he's watching something. So I went down to the pen. By the time I got down there(50-60 feet away) he had moved to where the hens were. So I examined the run along its perimeter and looked for evidence of something. No attempts to breach wire or dig but a nice pungent odor of skunk. :/ Has anybody had skunk attacks during the day? My sister who actually lives in the city but who has had a long frustrating problem with skunks including a rabid one that animal control removed from her front porch said that it was probably a young one just checking things out. I don't think I have ever seen a skunk in the daytime but she says she has and they are the young ones. Has anyone had a daytime attack from skunks. My coop is Fort Knox so once they are locked in at night I don't worry too much. But I was concerned enough yesterday afternoon that even though I felt like the run was dig proof, I opened up the outside pen around the run and let my two Great Pyrenees patrol and they were on it immediately sniffing around. So between the rooster, the dogs and the smell when I went down there I feel certain a skunk was prowling around. :( Any special concerns I should have? I do feel like okay....the parade of predators has begun. *sigh* We are on an acre and the back of our property is surrounded by our neighbor's fields for his cows. He has not cut the grass that surrounds my coop and pen and it is waist high which is really bugging me because I had been wondering how many predators could be lurking in that grass.:(

    A side note.... My rooster is 3 1/2 months old and how cool was that that he was reacting like this. He is the same rooster who patrols the run at night and runs all errant chickens into the coop before he finally goes in himself. I so hope when hormones hit him that he doesn't turn into a jerk.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    There are some myths out there about when predators are about. If you check out the experts online you will see them say “mostly nocturnal” or “normally nocturnal”. You won’t see a true expert say “only nocturnal”. I’ve seen coyotes, foxes, skunks, bobcat, raccoon, mink, and even a possum out during the day. I’ll admit that possum surprised me. 1:00 on a bright sunny afternoon and it was feeding on my compost pile. I’ve caught snakes eating eggs in my coop in the middle of the day.

    Sometimes it is the young ones that have been weaned out looking for their own territory. Sometimes it is a mama with hungry babies to feed. Maybe they had an unsuccessful hunt last night and are still hungry. During mating season they may be looking for a partner. They may not always be actively hunting but few will turn down an easy meal.

    Nighttime is your biggest time of risk, many critters are more active then and they have more undisturbed time to do their mischief because humans are normally in bed. But the risk is also there during daylight hours.
  3. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Predators are usually active beginning in the evening through early morning. But that is definately not hard and fast, they can be encountered at most any time, day or night.

    Dealing with a skunk is going to be challenging, once they is a horrible odor that will linger for weeks if not months.

    I live in town, so my personal exposure to predators is nicely limited. But I've caught many many predators for others.

    Skunks, raccoons, opossums..etc, predators in general are creatures of habit. If you are seeing this animal during the day, try to find where it's coming from or where it is headed too. Unless disturbed, they will travel the same route almost every day.

    I'd find a place where it's crossing a fence, or a creek...somewhere along its path of travel ....well away from your home...where you can set a cage trap to capture the skunk.


    Use this type of cage trap...stay away from the common Havahart traps. Havahart was a decent product 20 years ago...but not so much any more.

    There are very effective techniques for removing the skunk from the cage trap without the skunk spraying. Unfortunately the only way that I know to remove a skunk from a trap without spraying, involves the death of the skunk.

    So that's a personal choice....
  4. Birdydeb

    Birdydeb Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am not adverse to killing a predator that is stalking my chickens. The problem is the other side of that back fence on the pen is my neighbor's field. He has said he has atrap(not sure what kind) that we can set out over there. He likes to do catch and release off somewhere. I am VERY opposed to that so I guess if I trap on his property I will have to be quiet about it. I guess it is a wake up call that I have borrowed time long enough. Outside fence is 6' welded wire with HC 3' up and a skirt out with skirt stapled(fence staples) to a 6" board at bottom. I am sure something determined might get through that. Especially with that blasted waist high grass hiding them. :rolleyes: Outside pen is not covered yet so they have been only in the inside covered run. That part is 12' x16' run with roof on one side and a connecting 8' x 13' run on other side with chicken wire covering the top of that. Inside run fencing is chicken wire. :( I have had to fight...inch by get every bit of protection that I have....hubby thinks I am too picky. :rolleyes: Since I can't put the welded wire up for the inside run by myself I guess I need to see about possibly setting a trap and letting my GP' s have access inside the pen. I have taken it slow with them as far as the chickens are concerned but now that they have both been inside the pen(but outside the chicken wire run) and have not challenged the chicken wire OR reacted when Big Red got either of them on the is time. My plan during the day had been all along to let them have access, I was just taking it slow and easy and letting them build a bond to the chickens. A skunk might not be able to get over that fence but a raccoon can and if the skunk is prowling, I'm betting something like a raccoon that can climb is watching and waiting too. :( I truly feel like night time protection is pretty tight. The house is strong and secure, all windows protected by HC inside and outside, door secure and any roof edge gaps(ventilation) protected by HC. Plus even with my fences not exactly night time secure yet, I felt like it would take a lot of determined effort and then anything would be faced with a house built like Fort Knox. Not meaning to ramble, just giving you an idea of how it is at the moment and a bit surprised at myself that daytime predation would surprise me. :rolleyes:
  5. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    You mentioned "tall grass". If you have tall grass on your property, especially around the coop and run, that will provide a nice sense of security for every predator that comes by your coop.

    Not much you can do about tall grass on the neighbor's property, but I be mowing the tall grass if it's on your property.

    Cage traps work great for skunks. When asked to remove predators for people, I usually take quite a few skunks before I catch the raccoon, fox, feral cat...what ever the chicken killer turns out to be.
  6. Birdydeb

    Birdydeb Chillin' With My Peeps

    I know! Argh! My closest neighbor on the side of me has complained about that grass since it runs right up to his fence too and even closer to his house than it does mine. But I can't control that. :rolleyes: Will turn the GP's loose and see about getting a trap. We keep the grass on our side mowed all the time. So the field side is my nemesis at the moment.

    Edited to correct auto correct.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2016
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I wired the bottom of my trap to a piece of plywood to stabilize it and keep anything from trying to get the bait from the bottom. I built this box to set over the trap so the only way in is through the trap door. With this box over the trap I’ve not had any skunks spray.


    Since the first of this year I’ve caught 5 raccoons, 7 skunks, and 10 possum in this trap. In a smaller live trap I’ve caught 12 rats. I do not release them. Everyone has their own preference for bait, I use debris from making chicken broth. When I make broth I use garlic, onions, carrots, celery, and fresh herbs like oregano and basil. I take some of that, wrap it in a paper towel, and put that back behind the trip plate. Boy, does that smell good. I’ve even caught feral cats, songbirds, and doves. Those I release.

    One summer about this time of year I shot 16 rabbits out of my garden before I got the one that was eating my beans just as they were sprouting.

    A point of this is that just because you catch one doesn’t mean you have eliminated the threat. Good fences are by far your best protection but I also believe reducing the predator pressure on your area is a good tactic.

    You asked how many daytime attacks we’ve had. I had very few when I free ranged, but the few attacks by dogs people abandoned out here were so massive I got electric netting to stop them. I will mention that two of those five raccoons were trapped in early afternoon. The skunks and possums were all trapped at night though I’ve seen them out during daylight hours.
  8. SueT

    SueT Overrun With Chickens

    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    You can trap and release skunks without getting sprayed. We used a long low trap. It is helpful if the top of trap is low enough that the skunk can't raise its tail. The empty trap should be covered with something like a piece of old blanket. When daytime comes, wait 2 or 3 hours for the skunk to fall asleep. Without uncovering it, take it at least 10 miles away and open it and step back. We have not been sprayed using this method that we learned from Youtube videos.. btw trapping skunks may be illegal in your state
  9. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    This is a great post, wonderful information.

    When you go looking for a cage trap, stay away from anything Havahart...that is no longer a durable reliable product. You actually want to get a trap like the one in Ridgerunner's post. That square of sheet metal under the carry handle is awesome to have and will protect your fingers better than a pair of leather gloves.

    I've heard of the blanket trick over the cage trap....don't really trust that one, not with a skunk.

    Give me a moment and I'll post my cage trap bait formula:

    Here Is my recipe:
    1 tin of sardines
    2 cups of vegetable oil

    Mix the sardines and vegetable oil in a blender until puraid completely. Then in a 5 gallon bucket mix the slurry thoroughly with about 10 pounds of dry dog food.

    This makes a very good bait for most any predator that feeds on chickens.

    If you are having trouble catching the predator that is being overly cautious, and there are no malfunctions of the trap itself, wire the trap open so that it cannot trigger and let the target animal hit the trap each night for about a week. Check the trap each day to ensure that the predator is visiting the cage trap, re-bait as needed.

    After week, remove the wire and ensure that the trap is properly set. If the predator is hitting the trap regularly, you should have your chicken killer the next morning.

    This approach works great for even those very cautious predators like foxes.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2016
  10. Birdydeb

    Birdydeb Chillin' With My Peeps

    All good info....thank you! A lesson in why not to get complacent. Turned the GP's loose to have freedom around perimeter of the inside run and they have proved trustworthy. Though my female doesn't seem to learn....Big Red, my rooster got her on the nose...again. She didn't react. :) So my patience in going slow with them seems to be paying off. Wonderful. I will monitor this with them on the outside of the wire for awhile and then move on to inside the run. :) Thanks again everyone for all the good info.

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