Chicken Coop Security
My non chicken coop friends kind of chuckle at me good naturedly when I talk about the lengths that I have gone to keep my chickens safe from chicken predators. These non chicken people love to watch my chickens run around my back yard and they certainly enjoy the fresh eggs that I dole out when I have too many to eat. But, they don’t have a clue how hard it can be to keep your chickens safe or how heartbreaking it can be when you fail to keep your chickens safe. Chicken coop security is a very real and serious problem for anyone who currently has backyard chickens or is considering buying a few hens for eggs.
It sounds simple enough. Buy some chicks, put them outside in your wonderful chicken coop when they are old enough and then sit back and just collect their delicious eggs. Right?!?! Ha, ha. The joke is seriously on anyone who doesn’t understand that anything that can catch your chickens will kill them and possibly eat them. Not every predator will eat them by the way. Some only delight in the chase and the kill and then will walk away and leave the body of your poor dead hen just laying on the ground while they run off for some new adventure. It’s just really sad.
Over the years, my unlucky chickens and those of my chicken raising friends have become the unfortunate victims when a gate was accidentally left open, the coop was not properly secured, the wood became rotten enough for a motivated predator to chew threw it or there was a hole in the fencing that no one noticed until it was too late. I am sure that all of you that have backyard chickens can add hundreds of stories to this blog about the various and often unique ways you have lost chickens over the years then your chicken coop wasn’t secure. Chickens cannot protect themselves and can be killed all too easily by a huge variety of animals in your area. Accidents happen all the time and all you can do is learn from them and move on.
How To Secure Your Chicken Coop
But, there is no reason for your chickens to die because you have not properly secured the chicken coop. New chicken coops are great but make sure the latches securely fasten. My friend’s new coop had very cute but very flimsy little heart shaped pieces that were intended to be pushed up and hold the upper door closed. But, a raccoon was able to easily touch them and they flew down and the door magically opened. None of the other latches were very secure either. We spent a couple of hours adding new latches and some strips of wood that would open and close but would securely latch the doors closed. Another friend discovered that the coop, while pretty heavy, was very easy for a predator to gain access to by tunneling under it. After that disaster, we pounded small posts into the ground and secured the coop to the posts. We then added a wire apron, that was approximately 12 inches wide, around the bottom of the coop to prevent predators from digging under it.
Smalls things that increased the chicken coop security immeasurable but that none of us considered until it was too late. Old chicken coops present their own set of problems. Regular maintenance is a must to keep your chicken safe and secure. Wood rots over time and can warp and separate which can provide an easy way for a chicken predator to gain access. Wire doesn’t always age well and can rust, develop holes and also detach from the structure. It is very important to regularly inspect your chicken coop and run and take care of issues as they crop up.
Free Range Security
Do your chickens free range? This can be a security nightmare because it is much harder to secure a larger area. My chickens free range in a roughly one acre back yard that is completely fenced. But, that being said, some of them are not smart enough to stay behind the fence. One rooster and his harem of hens love to hop over the fence very day and take a jaunt over to the neighbor’s yard. My neighbor doesn’t mind thank goodness but I have lost two of the hens to a local dog. Clipping their wings helps keep the contained better but as soon as they are able, they roam again. For the chickens that have enough sense to stay put, I have planted ornamental grasses in groups and have strategically planted bushes that stay green all year long. This gives them areas to run for cover whenever a hawk flies over looking for an easy meal to grab. They also love to lounge under these protective areas during the heat of the day and dig in the dirt. They are heck on the landscaping but at least they are safe!
Conclusion – Securing Your Chickens
Chickens depend on us to keep them safe. They are in the environment that we created for them and it is up to us to provide a secure chicken coop and run to keep them safe. If your flock free ranges, consider implementing some of the things I suggested above.