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Weasels, foxes and coyotes oh my!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by boch boch, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. boch boch

    boch boch Out Of The Brooder

    Hi everyone, I am going to be getting chicks (first time! YEAH!!) next week and will be brooding them indoors. I know we have weasels living in the neighbors hay barn (Thankfully controlling the mouse population that was crazy bad, including a large rabbit population which is also greatly diminished). I've seen a couple of foxes on the property too (They apparently killed the previous home owners free range chickens) and I hear coyotes in the area.

    I have seen hawks about 1300 ft from our house too but never near the house(s) and barn. There are a lot of crows near the horses/hay barn that I think keep the hawks away.
    Although, I did see a chicken at the end of our driveway (1300 ft) with its head cleanly sliced off. It looked great otherwise (feathers intact) and I have no idea where it came from, non of the neighbors had chickens at the time and I can't hear any nearby either.

    I'm going to buy a pre fab coop with attached run which I plan to put an additional fence around to try and make predator proof. I plan on using hardware cloth, and either hay/straw bales or hardware cloth on the ground around the outside of the coop to keep the burrowers out.

    The neighbor with the barn used to have chickens which she let me see her set up and it was predator proof. Although I'm not sure the weasels were here then. (my coop will be about 50 yards away from their barn - not very far). (The lady moved out with the chickens.)

    I do plan on keeping the chickens in the coop/ run. For those of you who have dealt with weasels what do I need to do or NOT do?

    Tips?

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  2. Zoomie

    Zoomie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mora, NM USA
    Welcome to BYC! [​IMG] So glad to have you here! And, thanks for puttnig in your location, it really helps people to help you out with any issues.

    Hay or straw bales will not stop a weasel. (Or a rat or a dog, either, and I would not be surprised to hear of a raccoon knocking over a bale.) You need hardware cloth, which sound like it might already be in your plans, but I would not trust hay bales to keep anything out. Of course the most secure would be a cement foundation. You could then anchor the coop and run to it. Failing that, I can also suggest to dig a trench around your run/coop, and bury the mesh down there - 18" would be ideal - and then run it up the sides as well. Make absolutely certain it is fastened down well and that all seams are fastened well - fasten it better than you think you need. Raccoons are incredibly strong and can actually rip chicken wire with their little hands. Dogs have been known to tear the thinner hardware cloth.

    Bear in mind that most of the pre-fab coops (I have to say, not all of them... some of the manufacturers are wising up and building more secure things, however the cost is also very high) are incredibly flimsy. I have one, but it's set up inside my barn... which has a cement foundation wall all around the entire stall where the coop is. The other thing about pre-fabs is these people don't seem to understand chickens and the perches are too tiny (among other things). Take those out and replace them with a 2X4, with the 4" side upwards for the birds to perch on. That way they can cover their toes with their feathers and won't get frost-bitten toes. These things would definitely blow over in the sort of winds we get, but inside my barn it's protected not just from snow, rain and sunshine but also the winds. That's the only reason mine is still here. Last week it would have blown straight to Texas. So remember you are going to have to anchor the living crap out of it. Check the hardware that they give you to secure doors - the latches and so on provided are not always going to stop a raccoon. A clip (like, that fastens a dog leash to the collar) but stronger and more heavy duty might be better, it just depends what is provided with your pre-fab.

    Basically, get out your tin foil hat and be just as paranoid as you possibly can, and then whatever you do, over do it. Don't trust the manufacturer when they say their pre-fab is predator proof; it is not. Especially with weasels, who can get through a very tiny hole.
     
  3. boch boch

    boch boch Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you Zoomie!!
    We have some rebar that has heavy duty washers welded on it to help us anchor the coop from the wind. And it will have a shipping container on the NW side of it. (I hope that will be enough!!!!) The winds are HORRIBLE and we've had to reattach our yard gate many times and finally replace posts and hardware again. fingers crossed.

    I do plan on using 1/2" hardware cloth. (is that tiny enough?) Thanks for the hay bale info. I will definitely not use that.


    And thanks for the 2x4 perch info. So I clarify: they have their feet on the 4 inch part?

    I plan to replace latches with sturdier latches. I really hope I'm not wasting money on this coop.

    Thanks again!
     
  4. Zoomie

    Zoomie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mora, NM USA
    @boch boch yes, I have mine so that the birds perch on the 4" part. Some people don't do that... they use narrower perches... however. The wide perch allows the birds to get their feathers over their feet in the cold weather, preventing problems with freezing. You (and I) are in a part of the country where it gets cold, so that is a concern.

    The protection of the shipping container should help a lot, and your anchors sound good. I think 1/2" is perfectly sufficient... I believe weasels need at least 1" so that should do it. Sounds very good! [​IMG]
     
  5. boch boch

    boch boch Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you so much!
     
  6. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 11, 2017
    I want to jump in and say I'm following this thread. I am getting ready to get chickens for the first time in Central CO myself. I am definitely more concerned about predators than anything else. I know you mentioned a pre-fab coop. I definitely looked into this option, however most did not provide enough square footage per chicken to house as many chickens as they claimed, so definitely double check your measures with the number of chickens you plan on having. We've started building our own coop and fenced run for them and I think all up we will be out about $150 for a 4ft x 5ft coop plus fenced 50+ square foot area for a small flock of 5 (hopefully). I've been trying to find more info on weasels because I have seen maybe 5 total in 13 years in the state. We have ample prairie dogs and rabbits to keep predators fed, and most predators stay out of the yard due to our 2 dogs. I'm not sure weasels are much of a threat near me, however, all it takes is one. Do you know if prairie dogs pose a problem other than possibly getting into feed? How deep do you plan on burying your fence? are you planning a horizontal apron around your enclosure too?
     
  7. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How are you doing with your chicks? I hope you haven't lost any to predators! I finally brought mine home and the first night the coyotes came. Hadn't seen them in months and I watched 5 of them from my window and one walked up within 10 ft of my coop full of chicks the very night I brought them home. All were still safe and sound in the morning!
     
  8. Fbkchicks15

    Fbkchicks15 Out Of The Brooder

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    Just an FYI: When we started with our chicks two years ago we noticed a fox and a hawk near the coop right away. We read about leaving a radio on talk radio 24/7 so we set one up and never saw another fox or hawk nearby while they were in the coop. And as far as we can tell nothing has dug under the coop or pens either. But, we have lost two this week while they were free ranging.
     

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