This post is very timely and unfortunately too late for a friend of mine who just lost 6 of her chicks to a raccoon last night. We spent several hours yesterday re-enforcing her chicken coop and failed to consider the flimsy, cheap and completely un-secure latches on the doors. The coon was able to easily open the latch and 6 chicks that were about five weeks old died as a result. It has understandably upset everyone because they were so young and so cute.
On one hand, we are all mad at the raccoon for killing these cute baby chicks, but on the other hand, it was only doing what predators do each and every day – trying to stay alive too. The key is to build a raccoon proof chicken coop so that future chicks do not fall victim to predators of any kind. Unfortunately, that is easier said that done but we are sure going to try!
Now, this chicken coop was only going to be used as a temporary home until the new chicks were big enough to be introduced to the existing flock of chickens. My friend has had a lot of chicken predator problems over the last year and has lost a lot of her flock. Every time we fix one problem, another one crops up. It seems like it is never ending.
- The first thing we did this afternoon was to install stronger latches on the two doors and the two hatches to make them harder to open. This is a small, free standing chicken coop that was pre-made and that came in eight panels that had to be assembled. The side panel was also loose so we re-enforced that so it wouldn’t slide apart. The end result isn’t pretty, but it is much stronger and safer.
- The second thing we did was to surround the entire area with a secondary temporary fence, since the second batch of chicks that are left will only be in it temporarily. This first batch of chicks wasn’t healthy and more than half of them died so the hatchery sent her a replacement batch of chicks that are about three weeks younger than the chicks that were killed. We also secured wiring over the top of the fence so now the entire structure has a top.
- The third thing we did was to install an apron around the entire bottom of the coop to prevent any animal from digging under the temporary fence. We also put a piece of plywood under the small chicken coop and secured it to the coop to prevent something from just lifting the entire thing up and getting in that way.
We are not going to put the new chicks out til this weekend so that we can monitor the security camera and make sure that this second clutch of chicks doesn’t suffer from the same fate as the others.
Predator control is a major factor when you are considering getting chickens. As my friend has learned first hand, they strike fast and they can wipe out an entire flock very quickly. We had never seen any foxes or raccoons out there but that doesn’t mean they weren’t out there. She also has a lot of owls and hawks on her property, both of which can easily kill a chicken. Always keep in mind that when you add a flock of hens to your yard, they will draw predators to the area very quickly. After all, most animals know that they are easy prey to take down because they are not equipped to fight off any kind of attack.
Most predators will strike at night when your hens(and you ) are sleeping. The poor chickens won’t even know what hit them. There is nothing worse than going out one morning to check on your girls and find out that some or all of them are dead. It is just terrible. Predators will strike during the day though so if you are home, be alert for any commotion in the area of your hen house. Many times you can save your hens from a predator if you act quickly enough.
Fencing For Chickens
One of the easiest way to keep common predators like dogs, foxes and coyotes away from your chickens is to keep them behind a chicken fence. If your chickens free range, consider fencing the area that they free range in. Limiting their roaming range will go a long way towards keeping most of your flock in one area. Another friend of mine was able to keep most of her chickens in her yard but there are always the adventurous souls who just can’t resist flying up to the fence and perching briefly on the top before hopping down to freedom on the other side of the fence. Most of the time, most of the chickens, led by a rooster, make it home but sometimes one or more never return. The only options in this case is to keep them completely locked up or allow them their freedom to live how they want while they can.
Chicken fencing is very important and it’s one of the keys to keeping your flock alive and well. Chicken wire is great because is a smaller mesh and it is safer for such a small animal. The downside to chicken wire is that is is not as strong as some of the other types of fencing that is available and sometimes can be broken. One of the strongest types of wiring that can be used is hardware cloth. It is very strong and durable but it can also be costly to use in a large area. You can also use graduated mesh fencing that has smaller openings at the bottom that gradually get bigger at the top part of the fence. There are many different types of fencing that can be used to keep your chickens safe and contained. Look around in your local stores and online to see what options work best for you. Some are more expensive than others but keep in mind that the fencing will last for a long time and will keep you from having to replace your flock if something gets to them.
High Tech Predator Control
We do live in a high tech age and there are options if you want to use something more high tech to help keep your chicken flock safe. There are units that you can purchase and install by your chicken coop. They emit flashes of light which will startle and scare off night predators. These units automatically come on at dusk and switch off at daylight. These units are also solar powered so you don’t need to plug them in and are easy to install.
Conclusion – Build A Raccoon Proof Chicken Coop
Predator control is something that all chicken owners face on a daily basis. Keeping your chickens safe from raccoons and other predators requires you to install proper fencing, a secure chicken coop and constant vigilance on your part. Chicken coops can develop holes, the wire can come loose from your run or a variety of others things can happen that make your coop not as safe as it could be. Have a friend come over and take a look at it for you to give you fresh eyes. You will have to address each problem as it occurs.