thief-proofing your chicken yard

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by farmergal, Dec 11, 2008.

  1. farmergal

    farmergal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 21, 2008
    Nor Cal
    Hi all,
    I've been reading lots of posts lately about human chicken thieves, so I thought I'd start a thread on ways to prevent your chickens/eggs from getting stolen... for those of us who haven't had problems yet but want to be safe, rather than sorry!
    I live on a busy country highway and my chicken yard is visible from the road, so I'm definitely a bit worried. The house I live in has been broken into twice, so there are definitely thieves in the area... and no neighbors close enough to see what's happening.
    I'm going to try to keep the gate to the driveway (with its "POSTED No Trespassing" sign) shut. But during the day, sometimes I'm gone and the chickens are just out in the yard. And my girls are so friendly I'm afraid they'd just walk right up to an intruder, expecting treats (especially the ones that are my pets, that would be the hardest to lose!)
    People are talking about keeping the coop locked. I lock it up at night, but do you lock your coop up during the day, too? (And just leave the chicken door open?) Has anyone tried posting a "Smile... you're on security camera" sign? Is it necessary to lock the gate to the yard (even though people could pretty easily climb over my fence)? How big and scary does a dog have to be to deter thieves? (I might be getting an Aussie shepherd in Jan.)
    Lots of questions, but I'm hoping to start a brainstorm! Post your best defenses so we can get a good list going for others who are worried about the safety of their girls.
    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
    -Lynda
     
  2. mrsengeseth

    mrsengeseth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Best defense is a good offense they say.

    I saw something that might be an idea. Haven't tried it, But I saw these hotel door alarms that you can buy at walmart or wherever. The point of these is that there are two parts. When they are together they are silent, But when they seperate, they squeal loudly. I guess it's a pin that comes out of the unit when a door is opened? I considered getting some and putting them on my coop and run doors.

    the one I saw was similar, but not the same as this one...http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000SKZM0A
     
  3. orcasislandchickens

    orcasislandchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am one of the ones that had problems. I had six little hens in our area of 1-5 acre parcels and no rosters even though they are allowed. A couple of my neighbors expressed displeasure that I got them. One neighbor has also disliked my dog, my landscaping, my fence, my house, and just seems to resent me in general. OH well. His problem I guess. They made no noise, and caused no problems, but began dissapearing one at a time. They came up missing during the day if I left home to go to the market or run errands. Whether or not they were inside or outside my coop and covered enclosed run setup made no difference. The nicest freindliest easiest to catch ones dissapeared first. My favourite most loved was first to go, which was kind of hard. Finally I gave up thinking it might be some sort of odd daytime preditor (decided it was a common 2 legged one) and locked them in and I have had no more poblems with the new batch.

    My coop enters into the run, there is a little pop door that I close at night to keep them inside the coop at night, during the day it is open, and they go in and out at will. The run is covered with a roof, and all sides, and buried underneath the ground, is hardware cloth. I put a hasp and combination padlock on the outside door to the run, and fixed the egg door so that you cannot just reach in and grab out a hen.

    Now to get them you have to unlock the door or you must cut out hardware cloth with pliers. It takes time, it takes effort, you have to carry a tool. The odds of getting seen and caught have gone up as has the likelihood of coming up with a reasonable explanation if caught in the act.

    If I change anything I will make the outside area bigger but I will keep it secure. It realy is not a big deal to unlock the door to come and go, but if I were building new, all doors would have those punch keyed entry setups you often see. The coop would be a real shed building with real opening windows like in a house covered with hardware cloth. And there would be a chicken portion and a chicken supply portion maybe with garden tool storage, because now I go out with food and water and have to set it down while I unlock to get in. I would run electricity for heat and interior lighting and would put out a motion sensing light. The light going on, especially in combination with a rooster to wake up and crow, would be a good deterrent at night. I like the alarm idea also, I saw those and wondered, but you still have to have someone notice and report it or you have to be there to hear it yourself so INMHO it does not replace a lock.
     
  4. farmergal

    farmergal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 21, 2008
    Nor Cal
    Orcasislandchickens --

    Sorry to hear about your sweet hens! Thanks for the advice. I'm just not sure how I'm going to people-proof the entire yard, which is 60' by 60', and fenced in with a 4.5' fence. Do you have a dog to watch your property, or no? The fact that it was only during brief outings that the thieves hit is pretty suspicious (on your neighbor)... sorry for your loss.

    I like the idea of the alarm too, wonder if thieves would be scared by it, or just ignore it? It might at least make the chickens run back into the coop.

    PS -- I lived in Port Townsend for a while, Orcas Island is so beautiful...
     
  5. MagsC

    MagsC Queen Of Clueless

    Jul 27, 2008
    Minnesota
    I think any dog that will sound an alarm about an intruder on the property is good. Of course if they are large and scary looking it might be a better burglar deterrent! I have one chow cross and little yappy dogs, getting a great pyrenees/old english mastiff from my fiance for christmas. They will have to be pretty sneaky to get on to this property un-noticed!
    I would lock the coop at night but really dont have any other suggestions for daytime.[​IMG]
     
  6. birdnutz

    birdnutz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How about some electric fencing around the peremeter? Place the controller where it can't be unplugged. 2 strands should do it. To high to step over and to low to go under. Electricity would be a big deterent for me.
     
  7. orcasislandchickens

    orcasislandchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh thank you. Orcas Island is beautiful. I wake up every morning to windows that look out onto a view so breathtaking that if you made postcards they'd figure you photoshopped them. I am blessed and I know it.

    I think one of the problems I had with security initially was a dislike of locked areas and a sort of inner refusal to take preventive measures. Now that I have done so, I realize things can be a lot safer, and still as pretty. If you aren't up to no good these things don't matter and you don't notce a motion sensing light on the coop. I also realized that a few chickens can be happy in a lot less area than my entire lot and that things are different in retirement, recreational, suburban "country homes" than they are out in the "real" country.

    As complex as this stuff can get KISS is still best. The best thing I did was admit the problem and LOCK THE COOP AND RUN (yes even in the daytime) The door only needs to be unlocked when you are going through it. The rest is extra, helpful but secondary.

    Yes I have a dog, a german shepherd. At first I was taking her with me because she likes to ride in the car. Now I leave her at home. When it comes to security think layers. One more thing that makes it harder or less desirable to bother you, and then one more, and one more, until it starts being not worth the effort.

    I think an alarm on a gate or a driveway alarm set on chime in the right location might be helpful to alert you someone is around if you are there too. An alarm is unlikely to scare anyone away, and while it will scare the chickens it will probably not cause them to run in the house, but is more likely to make them freeze in place, or maybe take cover under a bush.

    I like the electric fence idea.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2008
  8. EliteTempleton

    EliteTempleton Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The thing about security is that really it all depends...

    You see mostly you simply have to be a harder target then your neighbor. This obviously does not apply if you have an item your neighbor does not and that the thief wants. If a thief is specifically after chickens for instance then this principle would only apply if your neighbor had less secure chickens then yours. So, with each tip, your mileage may vary...

    Quote:By their very nature criminals do not follow laws or kind requests. The no trespassing sign will change some dynamics of the law if you do happen to catch them in the act but otherwise please remember that folks who steal things rather then earn them do NOT think like you. I speak of the sign changing the dynamic in terms such as here in Michigan the sign allows you to press charges faster(again, this would be after you or an officer have caught them). The sign will likely affect honest folks more than crooks. For instance a police officer will not use your driveway to turn around in if you have a no trespassing sign(excluding pressing instances or a search warrant). You may also get less door to door sales folks, hey that's a plus right?

    If you want a sign that will actually keep people off your property start with a "Beware of dog" type sign. You don't have to have a dog to post the sign. A sign, a water and food dish and a large bone left out would probably deter a good deal of would be criminals and/or simple trespassers. Just don't ruin your ruse when strangers ask about your dog. Don't say oh that's all for show, instead say something like: oh yea, Max is at the vet for an overnight stay, poor thing had to have stitches after fending off a fox, can you believe that? Guess he is more territorial then I thought! Say whatever fits your situation best, just have whatever your excuse is ready before hand, after all us honest folks usually have trouble lying on the fly.

    Quote:I like this idea, you can also get fake cameras for fairly cheap to finish the illusion. Like this one for $12.99

    Quote:A lock will provide further deterrence, but you run into a problem of security over usability here. The deterrence is that it will not look that strange if someone is walking through a gate, however climbing over a fence is often viewed as suspicious behavior, and criminals, while often not that smart, do know that they would rather not attract attention.

    Me? I do not lock my front gate, but my back gate is locked. I go through my front gate 4-6 times a day on average, I go through my back gate maybe 6 times a year.

    Quote:Again, depends. Sometimes the 10lb toy dogs are enough due to their bark, other times the thief needs to fear a bite. Personally after entertaining myself by watching COPS and similar shows for many years I think 30 lbs is a good minimum, 50 lbs is a great balance of deterrent v.s. feed costs. I've got two in the 50 lbs range myself, one sleeps outside most of the time, one sleeps inside most of the time. I also think if you are going to get a dog you should like it. A dog on a 15 foot chain attached to a tree that never gets to go for walks... well it does not do you or the dog much good.

    Next time I need to pick a dog I'll be considering a Shepard breed myself, of the English variety.
     
  9. EliteTempleton

    EliteTempleton Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Sounds good if it's legal and practical where you live, but do spend the extra bucks to get a solar powered version, crime rates soar when the grid is down, ask any officer of the law.
     
  10. spookyevilone

    spookyevilone Crazy Quail Lady

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    Minneapolis
    Quote:If you're going to spend the money, get a real camera. I bought a wireless set that transmits to my computer, like a webcam, for about $30 on Ebay. It was motion activated and took pictures any time there was movement. Used it to prove my stupid down-the-block neighbor wasn't picking up after her dogs and that they weren't on a leash. City came out and fined her after I turned in the pics. I'll be adding more cameras in the back when I put the quail out this spring. I live in a suburban but highly ethnic area where almost any game animal (and some that aren't) are considered food and free for the taking if not nailed down.

    -Spooky
     

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