Getting started. Why raise chickens? 0/3
Requirements (parts list) for raising chickens 0/4
Basic breed types and their characteristics 0/2
Purebred flock vs. assortment 0/1
Incubators and hatching chicks 0/3
When things go wrong and predators too! 0/5
Processing birds 0/4
If you are going to keep chickens, you need to become versed in the subject of predators. Most folk who have only owned cats and/or dogs have no idea just how many predators frequent their back yard, especially at night. For example, there are people who have never seen a raccoon, except when dead on the roadside. Yet, I guarantee that if you try to keep chickens in your back yard, you will be visited by raccoon! It doesn’t matter whether you live in the city, suburbs or country side. They are in your environment and will make an attempt on the lives of your chickens.
The same can be said about possum, rats, skunk, dogs, cats, hawks and owls. All of these are predators which can and will, if given the chance, prey on chickens. (Note: cats are generally not a threat to adult chickens. They can, however, become a grave threat to chicks.) Even coyotes have become a real concern. Coyotes not only live in the country, they have moved into the suburbs and the city.
So what can you do about predators?
The first and most important step to ensure the safety of your chickens, is to lock them up, in a secure pen at night.
This, by far, is the step which most people need to religiously observe. Cooping your chickens, or, as I like to say, “locking them up,” is a whole lot more than just closing them up in a pen from which they are not likely to escape. They need a coop which will provide shelter from the elements, and it needs to be tightly constructed, so as to keep predators out. It’s amazing how a small hole in a coop, even as small as 2-3”, can allow a predator to harm one’s birds!
Raccoon Often Work in Gangs
Raccoon often travel in family groups. While they may not be able to get into your coop, they may be able to reach into the coop with their little hands. Many a chicken owner has been shocked, in the morning, to find a pile of feathers and just a few bones, all that is left of their chickens; and yet, the coop is still closed!
How Raccoon Coordinate an Attack on Cooped Chickens
One coon stands still, yet close to one side of the coop. Others go to the other side and begin throwing themselves against the wire, making enough noise to terrify the chickens. The chickens then panic and race to the far side of the coop, pressing up against the wire. The waiting raccoon then reaches through the wire and grabs chickens, literally pulling them apart and eating them through the wire.
Tip: Keep in mind that it’s good to have at least one or two solid walls in a coop, and it’s helpful if the coop is wide enough that a frightened bird isn’t likely to press up against the wire, where a raccoon is waiting.
The second way to deal with predators is to have a livestock guardian dog.
Two would even be better! However, livestock guardian dogs are not for everyone. They require some space. They’re nocturnal and bark quite a bit. If you only have a couple birds, the cost of maintaining the dog would be more than the benefits of having the birds. In the future I will write more about livestock guardian dogs and poultry.