Winter Predators...


In the Brooder
9 Years
Apr 9, 2010
This is going to be my first winter with my 4 Orpington hens. So far the 1/2 year I have had them went however since the weather got cold I have noticed a whole bunch of stray cats "interested". Besides this, is there something special I need to look out for predator-wise during the winter or is it typical year-round???? Thanks-Upstate NY
You'll actually have fewer predators in the winter, some of them migrate (hawks), and some of them hibernate.

What will happen and what you need to watch out for is that some of the predators get a different vantage point to search for weaknesses in your setup. High snow especially with a crust can allow easy access to your run or pen that wouldn't be there the rest of the year. In addition any cover you had in the form of other than evergreens will be gone, owls get a sight line advantage.

Then you have the weather to contend with.
The predators you will be dealing over winter will be much the same as those during warmer months. They will be faced with a changing and dwindling forage base that will force many to look for meals off beaten path. This also the time juveniles for many will be dispersing and trying for territories of thier own and thus pop up in locations not occupied during prior warm season. If you get a long and hard cold spell, some predators will take greater risk to secure a meal. Many predators, especially young and experiences or infirm will fail to to survive. Only North American predators I know of that hibernate are bears, specifically females and their young..
Other are snakes , not a true hibernation the racoon does go in to a dormant stage thru winter...possums also.

Racoons will built up fat for winter , and spent alot of the time in the den.
Thanks for asking this question. I have been wondering the same thing - this is our first year with chickens (also Orpingtons!)
I know they seem a bit Pricey but...Invest In a live trap.If you have cat's racoon's,Possum's some of those more easily trapped ground critter's.Depend's on where you are if you can't or won't dispose of the critter's some state's will have animal control come in and take the trap away.Skunk's are easily trapped and and if you throw something over the trap it can usualy be even moved without the skunk spraying. Had to learn that one the hard way. PHewwwww.It's up to you depending on how much you have in the bird's and love them or you aren't allowed gun's if you are in a surburban area.Even rats' can cause Havoc on young bird's.Fox and Coyote have been issue's here trying to trap and those pesky raptor hawk's but alway's on the lookout.
Snakes yes, I have never considered them to be a significant risk, even with free range birds, hogs I assume kept numbers down. Racoons and oppossums active all winter. Former will stay in den for several days until need for water forces movement. Sometimes both can be treed even on coldest night. Movement is very much as function of fat reserves, low fat must forage.
Yes true why I said not true hibernation, but less active in winter. All three coons,possum and skunk less active in winter, but they still get out. unlike bears.
I have been fortunate that we built our coop like a maximum security prison for night every predator into account when building it, especially weasels so I HOPE I will be ok...the only animals I see in abundance on my property are rabbits.. That might be a good sign. Thanks for the advice.

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