I summed up ways
to tell what has been eating your chickens in a previous post, but many of you have asked
for the followup — how to keep those predators at bay. Even
though we live in the middle of the woods, we’ve only lost a handful of
chickens, so I figure we’re doing a pretty good job of predator control
(without shooting anything). Here are our top tips:
pretty sure Lucy does 95% of the predator control on our farm.
Whenever she hears a sound, she tears off looking for the source.
Nearly all of our chicken losses have occured recently since her old
bones have kept our faithful dog closer to home. (You’ll first
have to train
your dog that chickens are to be protected, not eaten, of course.)
Locate the coop close to your house.
Speaking of close to home, you can go a long way toward scaring off
predators by keeping your chickens in an area that you walk through
many times a day. After some experimentation, we’ve started
locating our chick brooder right outside our back door, after which
relocation we haven’t lost a single chick to predators.
Include a rooster in your flock.
If you don’t have neighbors who will complain about the crowing, a
rooster will really pull his weight in chasing away predators.
One winter while our flock was free ranging, a hawk swooped down and
started tearing at the neck of one of our hens. The rooster made
such a show and the flock yelled so loudly that I knew something was
going on and had time to chase the hawk away before the hen was injured.
Close the chickens in at night.
To be honest, I only do this with our chicks, although I could probably
have prevented our raccoon
incursion by following suit with the adult hens. To make this
technique effective, you’ll have to combine it with a campaign to turn
your coop into a predator-proof establishment once the door is
closed. No, chicken-wire doesn’t cut it, but hardware cloth might
if it’s screwed down tightly.
and bushes in the pasture. During the day, hawks are our
biggest danger, and these birds of prey usually hunt by circling over
open areas. Tree cover makes it much tougher for a hawk to notice
your poultry, and bushes give your chickens a spot to hide if they are
What extra measures do
you take on your own homestead to keep your layers from turning into
wet down your coop if the flock mills around for a few hours inside
while you sleep in Sunday morning.