No one loves chickens quite as much as those who keep them in the backyard. Unfortunately, there are dozens of critters out there that love our feathery friends for different reasons. If you want to protect your flocks from foxes, coyotes, and other predators, check out these tips for keeping your backyard chickens safe.
Create a Chicken Fortress
Even people who don’t have flocks know that keeping a coop is an essential way to keep backyard chickens safe. But coops can’t keep out everything, and they don’t always help during the day. Here are a few ways to increase the security around your flocks:
- Put reflective objects around the coop to spook predators
- Invest in a predator-proof lock
- Surround your flock’s area with ½ inch hardware cloth instead of wide-link chicken wire
- Include hardware cloth at least a few inches under the fence to avoid burrowing animals
- Put a roof over open chicken runs to keep out birds of prey
Your routine can also help make your coop more effective, especially if you have free-range birds. Be sure to bring your flocks inside and lock them up before dusk every day.
Not all dangers come from outside the pen. Painting your coop with toxic paints can be detrimental to your chickens. Also, not painting it at all can cause the wood to wear out faster. ECOS Paints has a great blog post about what to know when painting a coop to ensure you protect the coop and your birds.
Hire Some “Body Guards”
No fortress is complete without guards. And when protecting your hens, no one is going to do it better than a rooster. A rooster will sound the alarm if a predator is nearby and will even do his part to fight off any predators that get in.
Of course, that fighting spirit can be a lot to handle for chicken owners. A guard dog is a good alternative if you want protection without getting your hands pecked. Sheepdogs, shepherds, and Great Pyrenees are good with birds. Just be sure to train them to behave around your flocks.
Another often underappreciated way to deter predators is to remove places where predators can hide. For example, if there is tall grass or a bunch of bushes near your coop, this will make it easier for predators, particularly snakes, to sneak up on chickens. Consider keeping the area around the coop as bare as possible. Consider planting some lemongrass near the coop since they’re known to help repel snakes.
Another way to increase visibility is to have motion detecting lights in the backyard. That way, everyone will know when there’s trouble afoot.
You love your chickens and taking care of them means keeping them away from predators. With a little hard work, diligence, and careful strategy, you can make sure your birds are safe and sound.