Backyard chickens need to be protected from other animals, particularly from predators. Except for their generally distrustful nature, chickens do not have many of their own defenses. In fact, they have many characteristics that may them easy prey: they are noisy, meaty and tasty, and do not move very quickly.
Here are some important tips to help protect your chickens from predators and other animals.
Prevent Predator Access
Build Sturdy Chicken Coops
Make sure the chicken’s coops and living spaces are sturdy. That there are no holes or gaps in the walls and fencing. If there are any gaps, close them up or install mesh or wires to keep out predators. Be sure to lock up the chicken coop are night when they are roosting.
Block Predator Entry
Pay special attention to the floor and areas where the walls or fencing meet the ground. Predators will dig underneath a fence if they can’t jump over it. Make sure the fence goes at least 10″ deep into the ground to prevent tunneling under. See to it that there are no weak points either in the fence or in the chicken house itself. Cover any weak posts or other areas with wires to prevent predators from chewing through. And finally, be sure to lock up the chicken hutch are night when they are roosting.
For chicken wire fences, bury planks that are at least 8″ to 10″ deep into the ground. Fence height should be at least five feet to prevent foxes and other animals from jumping over. If you leave the top of the fence rough, it can provide some added security.
Keep Predators Away
Depending on what predators are in your area, there are different methods to keep them away. Check with local authorities, animal control, or the internet to determine what may live nearby. For some predators, chemical deterrents are effective. Or try an electric chicken fence. In addition, clear the area around your chicken yard to eliminate places where predators can hide. And dogs will discourage most predators from coming near, plus their barking can alert you to trouble.
Acclimate Chickens to Human Scent
The scent of humans will repel most animals. (There are even claims that humans are unlikely to be preyed upon due to their smell.) While you should get your chickens used to you and your smell, you can use human scent to discourage other animals. Try hanging used clothes or bags of hair inside the chicken coop and around the enclosure.
These are only a few of the many things you can do to protect your chickens. Talk to other nearby farmers and residents, or join an online group, to learn more.