July 27, 2012
Have a raccoon problem? Or maybe its foxes or hawks? There are three basic approaches to protecting your chickens from predators. Each one has its pluses and minuses, however they will all do the basic job: keep predators away from your flock.
- The “holistic” approach. This approach requires no new hardware, but rather requires you to either make a small change to the chicken house or your flock’s lifestyle to avoid predator attacks. This is the least invasive approach when talking about stopping predators. This may be something as simple as raising your coop off the ground with stilts or using an old table from the thrift store. One could also train your flock to enter and stay in the coop all night rather than roaming and roosting wherever whenever. To get them to go to the coop every night, try corralling them in with bread crumbs, or raisins and simply blocking their exit with a board for a few nights. Chickens are birds of habit and 4-5 nights of doing this should be enough to train them to stay in the coop all night.
- The “territory” approach. This approach is simply about separating chicken territory from predator territory. The broadest way of doing this is to fence in your chickens entire range. Cyclone fencing is easy, but still leaves the flock vulnerable to avian predators like hawks or owls. To completely shield your chickens, tall fencing with a roof is the most defensive, however the foraging area of your chickens will be significantly limited and egg production will be affected if you have a solid roof because sun exposure will be limited. A more labor-intensive approach would be to fence in just the coop and let the chickens in and out every morning and evening, however forgetting to let them out or put them in would most likely not end well.
- The “technology” approach. NiteGuard is a solar-powered motion detection system that flashes a bright red strobe-esque light when set off. This technique, although extremely effective, requires you to know what kind of predator your flock is facing and place the guards accordingly. This is great when you are having issues from a specific, ground-based predator like foxes or raccoons, however is less effective when tackling avian predators.