Ok so first we are in ohio (if that makes a difference)... we will be moving into my aunt and uncles house on 5acres out in the country (buying once they get their spot in the retirement community towards the end of the year). I will apologize ahead of time for a long post Right now we are outside of city limits but don't have to worry about snakes or mice. So i have some questions with proofing their setup in the new property once we are out there. There are two sheds already there (wooden) and we are going to make a paddlock system (2 pasture fields per shed) for both sheds... we have two flocks cuz we had some hatchings and got two roosters which were fine with each other until they started getting into the drive of matting and they can't be by each other unless a fence in between. So anyways the setup will be where the diagram kind of shows that I drew up below (I don't know exact size other then our dog kennels) but they will only be shut up in the coop+dog kennel area in the evening when they go in to roost or if we will be longer then an hr or 2 away from home. Now the door that goes into the 10x10 dog kennel would not be closed so the coop is actually the shed + that space. The 10x10 would have fencing skirt, fencing on the inside of the chainlink about 2ft high (2 or 3ft) and then hard wire across the top. We are wanting to do "pasture freeranged chickens" so thats why the paddock system so we can rotate them and allow the grass no to turn into mud/dirt. We weren't planning on covering the paddock areas as they are free ranging when we are home, we have dogs and our one porch will over look that area (itll also be light at night but they wont be out). It will be 2x2 i do believe size fencing with a hard wire skirt (for diggers) and be about 6 ft i think the height is for the main fencing. I saw the cd method of being hung from fishing lines from the post to make hawks not want to enter... Does this work? The areas would be so big and I haven't found a deal on bird netting for it to be within budget to cover those areas. Okay now onto the shed parts... this is where im unsure of how to keep/deter mice and snakes away... more then likely would be dealing with field mice and black snakes (i'd prefer to keep the black snacks in the woods around our property then attracted to our live stock area since they keep away copper heads which we have around ohio - i've never seen one but i know others family members have on their properties but isn't close to this property) I love the deep litter method but my concern is due to it would it attract mice more? Right now we use hay, leaves, and D.E. I know snakes like leaves for hiding, but also know hay mice like lol. So would it be better to do just things like sand, wood chips, and D.E. (this way not a "heavier" material that the other "creatures" like so say)? I know we don't just want to stick to the dirt and say sand and D.E. cuz winter time it may get to hard and there wont be as much heat in there. I know more than likely snakes come for mice or an easy meal aka eggs and any chicks we let hens hatch. So is there a way to hang the nesting boxes so a snake can't get into them? (i know some snakes can climb and some can't) We don't want to lose eggs, I know ive read about using fake eggs or golf balls in place after removing.We also don't want to loose chicks either. Aside from that I think my biggest fear is coming across a snake, mice I can tolerate and get rid of, but snakes myself and the hubby don't do them (i don't mind gardener) his reaction is to run or the shovel/shoot (i know black snakes are beneficial but also know that if they are any where new where our kids play or our animals my husband goes by the saying a good snake is a dead snake and it will happen). will putting a skirt around the shed help with snakes? (we plan too to prevent digging predators). someone told us to use pine tar above where the skirt touches the shed like a foot or so because a snake won't climb over that. Do you have less of a chance of a snake in a raised coop then you do a coop like we've always done (on the ground converted sheds)? I know mice are attracted to their food also but we would feed out in the paddock in their tray like feeders and only as much as they will eat, the food removed and put back into a small metal trashcan (so not to mix it with the new) to be put back in the feeder the following day. They wouldn't get feed in the shed part unless it was raining or heavy snow (again removed in the evening). but water would be available at all times. We figured they wouldn't eat as much now (they get scraps from the yard and composting pile but we can't free range, plus when they are in the pvc tractor) once we are out there since they will be able to free range a lot more all day long. the food will be stored in another shed away from them in trash cans (right now heavy plastic but figured we are prob going to end up going metal if we notice mice starting to try and chew threw). Will mice bother D.E. ? (we usually just let it sit in a bag on a shelf where ever the feed is stored) the first shed is where our good chickens are (good as in calm, rooster thinks hes a cat and likes to get petted etc. no mad "genes" where you have a moody hen or something) right now there will be 1 roo, 2 hens (2yrs old), 1 hen (1yr old), and 1 hen/roo (im 90% sure the chick is a hen and is from this may so once we are out there should be almost full size) and will be used as the eggs that get hatched. the second shed setup is our "moody" chickens are (manly the hens who are b*tches towards our more calmer like to get petted hens in the other setup, but the b*tch pack as i call them lol get along with each other... the roo here isn't mean (we don't do mean their dad our original roo lets just say had a bad word name cuz he was mean from the time he got his feathers in and the bad word didn't start with a D it started with an F and rhymed with focker cuz he was that mean lol) he just runs hens his name roadrunner (he reminds you of the cartoon) but once you catch him and he knows thats all it is hes fine... he protects his hens though from things other than us) this is where our "moody" hatchlings from the other setup will go to grow out as meat birds minus any hens that aren't too bad temper wise as they will be kept as egg layers. We are going to have a mini sustainable farm as "organic" as we can get it (we want to become more self sufficient and teach the kids all the farm stuff lol) so thats why its important to us to learn ways to try to help keep away mice and snakes. We know that even preventing doesn't guarantee never having an incident also. in the future we will be adding ducks (we have a pond), turkeys (in their own paddlock system), and babydoll sheep (more down the road) as I figure as we add more livestock we raise our chances of predator issues exp with mice and snakes... any tips and suggestions we welcome. even if it is something we can stick on the outside of the fence line that will help deter as a first defense... (ive heard salfer and pepper but also heard that it doesn't work just as much as ive heard it does work. we don't want to do/try moth balls cuz of the kids, chicks, dogs, and figured its prob not the healthiest for the soil). thanks in advance quick recap of questions to make it easier lol: I saw the cd method of being hung from fishing lines from the post to make hawks not want to enter... Does this work? I love the deep litter method but my concern is due to it would it attract mice more? will putting a skirt around the shed help with snakes? (we plan too to prevent digging predators). Do you have less of a chance of a snake in a raised coop then you do a coop like we've always done (on the ground converted sheds)? Will mice bother D.E. ? (we usually just let it sit in a bag on a shelf where ever the feed is stored) is it better to have the compost pile away from where the chickens are? (right now it is in the run with them and we throw things out to them like grass clippings, leaves, left over food (no meat or anything that they usually don't eat within 2 or 3 days (amount wise) they wouldn't get grass clippings at the new place since they would have all the grass they can eat lol... which we also put into their "run area").