something new in the 'hood

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by mamabigbird, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. mamabigbird

    mamabigbird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 11, 2010
    Vancouver Island, B.C.,
    I've seen so many sad posts here and every time I think ... there but for the grace of God goes I.
    Well I guess my luck ran out.
    We've lost 3 ( 7 week-olds) in 3 days. We only had 6 so half are gone.
    I found the first two torn apart in the morning when I went out to check them.
    Just the legs and some clumps of feathers. One carcass was still inside the pen and the other was dragged out through the chain link fencing.
    I only found one leg out there and some entrails.
    We had been keeping them in the chain link pen in an open front dog house for almost a week.
    This is the exact same set-up we used last year for the last batch of pullets.
    Well obviously there's something new in the neighborhood this year.
    So we decided to put hardware cloth (welded wire) on their brooder cage and put the four survivors into that at night inside their pen.
    Everything was fine the next morning so I let them out into the pen for the day and was going to put them back in the brooder cage for night.
    I went to put them in about 6:30-7:00 and one more was missing. There was fresh blood on the ground so I had just missed it.
    This time the critter had climbed the 6 foot fence and exited out through a fresh hole in the netting on top of the pen.
    So the 3 survivors are now back in the brooder box full time and for now there's plenty of room but that won't last much longer.
    We have had the live trap set up in the pen baited with wet cat food for two nights and a day with no luck.
    It wants fresh meat and blood.
    There is no money to by miles of hardware cloth to fence this critter out top to bottom on their pen so I am at a loss what to do when they out grow their brooder.
    So far nothing has happened to my adult birds. Twelve of them all free range all day and locked up at night.
     
  2. mjuenem

    mjuenem Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 8, 2010
    Putnam Co.
    Here is how I beefed up my chainlink pen after coons learn to climb over the top and break through the bird netting on top. They also scared one into a corner and then reached through the chainlink and pulled her through.

    So I priced 1/2" hardware cloth, YIKES!

    But I still need to keep my girls safe here in the woods...

    So I purchased an electric fencer, some wire and the insulated standoffs (they snap right onto chainlink fencing) and various odds and ends for less than $75. I ran a wire about 6" above the top of the pen and another wire horizontally out 6" from the top of the pen.

    To address the "pulling a chicken through the fence" problem, I found the black plastic hardware cloth that is much cheaper. This stuff has 1/2" holes but the plastic is much thicker than the metal version. I grabbed it and tried to rip or tear it and found it very strong! Now any animal with sharp teeth can eventually chew through it, but I made that harder to do by installing it on the INSIDE of the chainlink enclosure. Mounted on the inside makes it very difficult to chew and stops coons from reaching in to grab a chicken. The rolls of plastic I found were 24" x 15 feet for only $6 a roll. (I have perches for the birds that consist of a board stuck through the chainlink on a diagonal at the corners. Make sure you also place the plastic hardware cloth on the inside around the perch area so the coon can't grab them.)

    Next, we have made it difficult for a coon to access the pen so the next step I would guess they will try is digging. For the apron around the enclosure I chose to go with plain old chicken wire. Much cheaper than hardware cloth and I would guess it will stop most digging. I just don't think they will be biting the ground and the biting is how they get through chicken wire walls. You may be able to use that same black plastic hardware cloth for the apron with chicken wire over it and still come in cheaper than the metal hardware cloth.

    Just an idea to help you become much safer with the least amount of cash outlay.
     
  3. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    You definately have a raccoon raiding you and it will be back. For now can you move the brooder into the coop at night for safety. It will introduce the birds to the flock, without risk of injury, and protect the fuzzybutts. Throw what ever you can at your security and double check the coop including the door latches
     
  4. mamabigbird

    mamabigbird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 11, 2010
    Vancouver Island, B.C.,
    So you think it's a raccoon eh? Hmmm. I was thinking mink. I read that mink want the blood feed and aren't attracted to tinned meat.
    Wouldn't a raccoon go for the cat food bait? And the older hens too? Either way the trap sits empty.
    Until the babies were killed our coop for the older hens had a pop hole that was just hinged at the top with no clasps to lock it up. It was more of a visual barrier for the hens.
    We have put butterfly hooks on the outside now and blocks on the inside so it can't be pushed inward.
    There really isn't room for the brooder inside the coop but the pen the brooder is in now is a fenced off section of the bigger chicken run so the older hens have lots of chances to see the young-uns.
    I don't think the electric around the top of the pen will work as there is a giant Maple with branches that hang just above the pen for a raccoon to climb up and down.
    I just don't know what I'll do when the chicks outgrow their brooder cage. I have about a week or two to figure it out.
     
  5. mjuenem

    mjuenem Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 8, 2010
    Putnam Co.
    I'd be cutting some maple branches.

    What part of Vancouver Island are you from? I used to spend some time up there in the 80's and 90's SCUBA diving the inland passage.
     
  6. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I suspect coon because they will reach thru the wire and pull thru what they can get a hold of, plus chicks aren't too bright and may have been sitting near the wire or even putting their heads thru the wire openings.

    Try using the bird carcass' for bait, or you can stick with catfood and remove other more interesting foods, like chicks, and maybe they will go for it.

    Maybe start a thread and see what info you can get about what would happen if you ran the chicks with the adult hens when they outgrow the brooder. Or maybe run them all together, select the hen most motherly and lock them together for a day, then let them hang with her.
     
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    On the MN prairie.
    I have 2"x4" welded wire on top of my run which is 12'x16'. Would that work for yours?
     
  8. mamabigbird

    mamabigbird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 11, 2010
    Vancouver Island, B.C.,
    I'm on S.E. Vancouver Island in the Cowichan Valley.
    Probably is a raccoon. The area around here has become so urbanized it's perfect for raccoons.
    I do have an older hen named Matilda that has raised chicks before and was broody a few months ago, so I may put her in with the chicks to see what happens.
    I think maybe a day for her in their pen while they're still in the brooder cage before I let them together?
    But would that just make her raccoon bait? She would have to sleep in the open dog house alone.
    Perhaps I should just move their brooder cage into the big girls' pen so they all get a little closer but the hens can still go into the coop at night.
    There is a big canvas market tent/gazebo in that pen so they're sheltered from sun and rain.
    It might help with the territorial stuff.
     
  9. mamabigbird

    mamabigbird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 11, 2010
    Vancouver Island, B.C.,
    UP DATE: One raccoon down. How many to go?
    My neighbor to the west of me, phoned my BIL ( same property as us) about an hour ago to say that a raccoon was headed our way.
    While my BIL was out piling firewood near the coops (Armed with the "heads-Up!") he managed to stop one raccoon. Enough said.
    Tomorrow the brooder cage will go into the hens' GAZEEBO so the "Stink-eye" can procede a little quicker.
    They need some big sister mojo working in their little favors.
    I feel there will be more raccoon naughtiness before this is over.
     
  10. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    I don't know about your raccoons, but here it's light till almost 8, so if a chick is being taken by a raccoon at 6:30 I'd be kinda suspicious. They shouldn't be out that early IMO.
     

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