wildlife management question

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by nikkij, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. nikkij

    nikkij Hatching

    Sep 21, 2011
    Hello All,

    I'm thinking (hoping) to get some chickens soon, but I need to figure out a coop (and find work to support them) soon in order to do so.

    In any case, my question is this:

    We have foxes, owls, and hawks on my property. I like them- we also have horses (who are there intentionally, unlike the others) and plenty of pests, and I appreciate the fox/owl/hawk pest management system. In deep winter, I put out some dog kibbles for all of them, but otherwise they feed themselves and I have a relatively pest-free barn.

    I don't want to disrupt this system too much, but I'd also like to start keeping chickens. At this point, I figure a well-built and secured (on top and bottom) coop and run will work for most stuff, and a portable coop jump will allow me to move the poultry across the property (and jump them on my horse).

    Is this system I've envisoned overly idealistic? Are there factors I'm discounting? I'm hoping to build the coop this fall, and to buy fertilized eggs in the spring (or to purchase pullets this fall).

    Because the horses are our primary concern, the barn pest issue is very important. Knowing myself (and my mother), barn cats migrate a bit too quickly into being house cats for them to be a sufficient pest-management system. (We have pest-secure grain bins, but hay always attracts pests, and those pallets that help prevent fire also provide lovely nesting grounds for the bastards).

    What is the best way to integrate all of these wildlife/livestock interests?

  2. MuckyPuppy

    MuckyPuppy Songster

    Jun 11, 2011
    Not an expert but I think you will always have some problems with the foxes, owls, hawks and maybe others you may not have seen yet. I could be wrong but I think that even most of the people that advocate building stronger and better coops instead of relocating or shooting the wildlife don't/wouldn't actively feed the chicken predators. I also think that given the choice of living, flapping chickens or dog kibble that the chickens would win hands down as a meal/snack in winter/spring/summer/fall.

    Still, you might stand a chance keeping the chickens alive in a perment fort knox coop and run combo as long as they are never allowed to free range.

    The portable coop is a different matter entirely. There would be a much better chance that they would end up as dinner in a portable coop than a permant one. Also, have you thought through the charging the portable coop with a huge horse and then jumping over the utterly terrified chickens penned inside idea? Maybe someone who has done it will be able to chime in if chickens can ever get use to getting used as a horse jumping hazzard ..... over and over and over again.

    It sounds as if you love animals so a rethink may be in order here.

    Edited to add: [​IMG]
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2011
  3. Mattemma

    Mattemma Crowing

    Aug 12, 2009
    A secure coop and run is your best option. I leave my chickens out in a open top fenced area. Anything can get in. I have not had any loss but I know it is a matter of time.I have caught 13 coons as of yesterday,and about 6 or so possums. I have hawks and probably foxes.Metal shed for night,but out in the open during the day.Do what you feel is best.
  4. nikkij

    nikkij Hatching

    Sep 21, 2011
    Thanks for the advice.

    To clarify, I was thinking of using a portable coop as a "run" so we could let them check out different parts of our property, without having to exercise constant vigilance. (The jumping would be when the chickens aren't in it [​IMG] ).

    I'm trying to figure out the feasibility of keeping chickens- I'd like to keep about five hens, but we do have a lot of wildlife in the area. We have full perimeter fencing that works for dogs (as well as deer and horses), and I'd build a decent sized run for them, but we have five acres of property and I'd like to let them make use of it (and help with our flies and bugs).

    Is it feasible to let them move around?
  5. Two Creeks Farm

    Two Creeks Farm Songster

    Apr 23, 2011
    Hedgesville, WV
    Secure moveable tractor with poultry electric fencing....should work well
  6. Capvin

    Capvin Songster

    Apr 13, 2011
    Lake Placid, FL
    You are not aware that your question is a difficult one. We live in an area where we have bears, feral pigs, bobcat, raccoon, possum, coyote, hawks and we have and keep safe, 6 chickens. There are tradeoffs that you are going to have to consider. First I will attach a picture of our setup so you will have an idea of what I am talking about. Our coop and run in secured with a solid roof and hardware cloth all around and a 36 inch apron of hardware cloth. For the most part of chickens stay in their run except for about one hour a day when I let them out under my supervision and watch. I do not let them free range on their own as I am not willing to lose any chickens. There are many people on this site that have a very valid opinion that they do not want to keep chickens penned up and are willing to risk losing some to have their flock able to free range during the day. In your area (as you described) it is almost a certainty that you will lose some chickens while they free range. The typical thing is that in the beginning and for the first several months the chickens are able to free range without problems. Then once they are discovered by a predator it will keep coming back until you either trap it or kill it. We have no problems with killing raccoons and rats and I do it on sight. However, for almost everything else I sacrifice my chickens having total freedom for their safety and me not having to kill the other wildlife. To keep them completely safe at night I have the entire run and coop surrounded by a five strand electric fence. There is no question that you can successfully raise chickens where you are and not have run ins with the surrounding wildlife, but you will need to make some tradeoffs in order to do so.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]]
  7. Wow, Capvin, that is some security system you have there!

    nikkij, I do free range my chickens during the day and coop them at night. Having them free range always has a certain amount of risk, not only with wildlife but nearby neighbor's animals. To me free ranging them is worth it. I have had some predator problems but not enough to stop my decision to let them out every day. It is a matter of choice for you.
    Make a solid coop for protection at night and you should be good, but stay alert to any danger that may come your way.
    Good luck on your new additions!
  8. Uzuri

    Uzuri Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    Be aware that it's very, very difficult to secure a mobile run -- there are ways to make it more secure, but it almost always falls over in the tunneling arena. It's like the difficulty in creating a tank relative to a bunker!
  9. LiLRedCV

    LiLRedCV Songster

    Aug 25, 2010
    Land of the Rain
    We live out in the country and have 2-acres. (everyone else around us have at least 5-acres or more) Anyway, we coop our gals and night and let them free-range it during the day. So far, we've only lost a few due to predators (coyotes and raccoons) and one due to a neighbors dog grabbing a young rooster who'd jumped the fence. Even if you have a "predator proof" set up, there's may be one clever predator that can bypass it and frustrate you. As in life in general, there are always going to be risks... risks of predators, risks of disease, risks of mites, risks of lice, etc... It's up to you as to whether or not it'll be worth it. Personally, I think it is! [​IMG]
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    It is difficult to find a location without all the animals of interest coming by occasionally excepting the horses. I have all with occasional interactions with my chickens. Chickens as you might imagine are either consumed by predators or predators at least put some effort into making that happen. Chickens can combat predators interest to some degree by avoiding detection, avoiding contact or occasionally bluffing and even actual combat with hawks. Chickens fare best when avoiding detection or contact. Your birds need access to cover. Your birds need to be able to use it. Having a larger more controllable predator (i.e. dog) can keep smaller predators away. Consider chicken breed as well not only in terms of product(s) it can provide (eggs, meat, beauty) but also ability to survive predation. Smarts, flying ability can be very important with free ranging birds. Social structure of chickens can also help. I am being vague but will follow up if interested. I keep most of my birds free range 24/7 in a rural environment. I like wildlife as well.

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