will tractor be raccoon-proof enough?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by patandchickens, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I'm finishing building a 4x7 tractor for our 3 chickens -- will be painting tomorrow and then covering it with wire mesh. So if I need to make any modifications, now is probably the time to find out [​IMG]

    We have a gazillion raccoons around here - last month we were getting *so* much coon poo around the house and yard that I did some trap-and-relocate, and in 6 nights of trapping I ended up giving car rides to *9* raccoons, argh. So I think raccoons are probably the main predator the chickens will face.

    The pen part of the tractor is built of 2x2's reinforced with metal L and T braces, and (unless you convince me otherwise <g>) will be covered in 2x4" medium-gauge wire fencing that is attached with fence staples and lays flat 6" sideways along the ground all around the pen to discourage digging. The shelter part of the tractor is 1/2" plywood; doors will have good latches and windows and vents will be screened with hardware cloth. Chickens will be closed into the shelter at night.

    Does this arrangement sound strong enough to deter raccoons? I am pretty sure that the first night we have the chickens in there, I will be able to shine a flashlight out the window at 3 a.m. and see raccoons crawling all over the tractor, and hear them discussing strategy with each other, but are they actually likely to do any harm?

    Also, the week before Labor Day we'll be out of town and can only get the chickens (and horses) visited once a day. During that time (10 days) I am figuring to put the tractor in an unused chainlink-fenced horse paddock and run a couple of wires of electric fence around it at "raccoon height", energized off the horses' electric fencing, and then leave the shelter's door open into the pen part of the tractor 24 hrs a day for the chix to go in and out as they choose. Do you think this sounds acceptably safe? My only other option would be to confine them indoors in a 4x6' cage for the whole time we're gone, which would certainly be safe but I suspect they would HATE it... they spend their nights their right now, but I don't think they'd like *living* there one bit. OTOH they would not like being et by a raccoon either, so I dunno. We do have weasels around but in the summertime I'd hope they'd have enough other things to eat to leave the chickens alone...?

    Any advice or suggestions appreciated!

    Thanks,

    patandchickens
     
  2. tiffanyh

    tiffanyh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2007
    Connecticut
    Sounds good, my only concern would be the 2x4 wire. I coon could potentially reach in and grab at your chickens. I know they would be shut up at night, but if you have that many coons, you are bound to have a few around during the day. Also, could you padlock the coop at night from the outside? I used to rehab coons and was AMAZED at what they could figure out with their fingers.

    Just a thought...see what everyone else says.
     
  3. RoyalHillsLLC

    RoyalHillsLLC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    2 x 4 wire is not small enough. You need to cover it with chicken wire. Raccoons can put their hands thru the 2 x 4 and will grab and kill the birds. You also need to bury the wire at least a foot in the ground, not just bend it in on top of the ground to prevent digging under it.
     
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I will suggest you cover it with 1/2" hardware cloth rather than chickenwire. A raccoon can chew through or stretch chickenwire enough to eat a chicken right through the little openings, bite by bite. Since you seem to have a large raccoon population, that's the way I would go with a tractor.
     
  5. NeuseWorks

    NeuseWorks Out Of The Brooder

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    Raleigh, North Carolina
    If you have as many raccoons as you say then I would use 1x2 or 1x1 welded wire. If it is not available in your area then definitely consider a layer of 1" hex poultry mesh inside the 2x4 fencing you are planning to use. Attach your fencing with good staples no greater than 3" apart.

    Just as an extra precaution you might also consider putting a scratch mat (floor) so they can't get in. Use the same 2x4 fence that you already have. The chickens can get to the ground well enough with it there.

    I also can't agree more with Tiffanyh. Use locks and multiple latches on every access point.
     
  6. RoyalHillsLLC

    RoyalHillsLLC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chicken wire added to the inside of the 2 x 4 will work fine and is more affordable than hardware cloth. If you haven't built it yet, you might use a smaller wire, but I still added chicken wire to my entire pen on the inside for double protection. I didn't have a roof but on one end so I added bird wire also for a ceiling. the only problem I have had with the pen is when they were sleeping in a corner. I made sure and added reinforcements anywhere they were spending a lot of time.
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Ok, I will staple some 1" chicken wire inside of the pen frame, in addition to the 2x4 wire on the outside. Thanks for the idea! (And a 'boo, hiss' from our local raccoon population, I'm sure).

    So would anyone like to comment on my plans for the chickens when I'm on vacation (see original post, above)? Any suggestions or comments would be gratefully appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Pat, with primer and paint all over my hair, but ready to put the wire on now :p
     
  8. allen wranch

    allen wranch Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    San Marcos, TX
    Isn't there anyone who can check on the birds for you more than once in 10 days ? A lot can happen during that time.

    No, I don't think they will be safe enough in the horse fence. Hawks can get them during the day, and raccoons are smart enough to figure out a way to get around the electric fence.

    What if the electricity/or battery goes out on the fence ? What if the water/food runs out or gets knocked over or it rains and it gets moldy ?
     
  9. CtlisencedArborist

    CtlisencedArborist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yup,2by4 aint good enough.Covering it with chx wire isnt either,sry...a coon can swipe chx wire in half![​IMG]
     
  10. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    North/Central Florida
    I agree that the 2x4 wire is too big. I don't care for modern day poultry netting (chicken wire) either. In fact I've pretty much quit using it for just about anything the way the wire gauge has gotten smaller and smaller. I use half-inch hardware cloth for those sorts of things now.

    Six inches wide for the ground wire seems a little narrow to me. I'd go with at least a foot wide myself. I'm using two foot wide 2x4 welded wire for my ground wire and it's working well.

    .....Alan.
     

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