Raccoon in the chicken house

Trail of feathersA couple of weeks ago, I
wandered into the coop…and shrieked!  A big raccoon was
clambering out as I came in, probably attracted to the
scraps I’d left in the deep bedding
for the flock to pick
through.  The coon wasn’t very shy, and I had to chase it off the
roof with a potato fork.

At the time, I
considered getting the gun since raccoons can eat chickens and this one
had clearly decided the coop was its territory, but it seemed a bit
unfair to shoot a wild animal when it hadn’t actually killed
anyone.  Now I wish I’d been more hard-nosed.

A couple of days later,
I entered the coop to see this trail of feathers.  I counted heads
and everyone was accounted for, but the eggs had been eaten in the nest
box and the flock was skittish.

Chicken in the garden

Chicken roosting on fenceAnother night, another trail
of feathers.  I assume our rooster fought the raccoon off each
time, but the chickens were clearly sick of their nightly battle. 
I didn’t realize at first that the problem was escalating, but then
hens started showing up in the garden in the morning, and when I went
down to visit them at dusk, I saw why — they were flying up to roost
on the honeysuckle-covered fence, considering it safer than their
perches in the coop.  One hen even flew twenty feet up into a
walnut tree.

At first, I tried to
chase the girls back off the fences and into the coop, but they were
having none of it.  So Mark and I moved on to plan B.  We’d
our broilers
won’t have more until late August, so we laboriously snagged chickens
off the fenceline that night and moved them all to the vacant, safer
coop close to the house.  I’d wanted to let those pastures rest a
while, but I’d rather have
Carrying a chickenmy girls ruin the sward than
get eaten by a naughty coon.

Changing their
accomodations is only a short term fix, and we need to make a decision
on the long term solution soon.  We might upgrade the coop to make
it predator-proof, or I might try to find that raccoon and shoot it
after all.  (We’ve never had a coop visitor previously, so I
suspect if we get rid of this marauder, we may go another year or two
before anyone else moves in.)  I probably should also stop putting
the compost in the deep bedding, although I hate to do away with a
system that’s working otherwise.  Ideas?

Our chicken waterer makes care of the flock so
easy, you have time to fight off the coons.

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  1. Heath August 6, 2012
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