Predators – Chicken Killers – Keeping our Flock Safe!
In this article we are going to try to lay out and name some of the most common Chicken Predators around the country. Some will be more common to certain areas than others as the region you live in may vary from others as to the type of predators it supports.
Predators come in all sizes and shapes! Some will kill simply to be killing, some will carry the chickens off and some will make a meal where they find them. We have had so many readers talk about so many different predators this list will have several! Chickens do not do well defending themselves against predators. There have been Roosters who have fought off Chicken Hawks and literally killed them but for the most part, chickens are free and easy game for their predators!
I cannot express the importance of a good tight Chicken Coop. Make sure all doors, windows, etc are a very good tight fit! This is very important when it comes to protecting your flock. If you have vents in the top, sides, etc, always cover with strong wire with small holes too small for a snake to get through! A tight secure coop is the start to a protected flock from predators! Free range chickens, well, they just have to fend for themselves! A good free range bird will be very watchful and will roost high up at night!
You probably do not want to purchase white chickens if you are going to let them free range. They will not blend in with their surroundings and will stand out like a sore thumb to the predators. there are many predators across the country from coast to coast. Many are common some maybe not so common! Like I stated above there will be certain predators that may be unique to the area you live in. If after reading this article you find your predator has not been mentioned please feel free to update us on it.
After doing some research and reading I have come to the conclusion that a good night light like the ones at the end of this article are well worth the money spent to help keep predators at bay. I have also come to figure that a good electric fence of a couple of strands attached to the coop and run can make predators less likely to ventures too close to the Chickens. Animals and humans are not very friendly to electricity. We have some Electric fence boxes, wire and insulators listed below for your convenience. In the end, it is you who will protect your flock from predators by what you do! They cannot protect themselves!
Below is a list of some of the more common Chicken Predators that our readers relate to on our Blog and Facebook page!
Raccoon: This is the most common predator people list when talking about Chicken Killers. The Raccoon is a very intelligent animal and very crafty! Their little hands have a great amount of dexterity so they are able to pick at the wire or hen house doors. They can open a standard wood lock they swivels without a latch. You know the old kind people put a nail through the center and it just pulls over the door to keep it shut. Well, this will not keep a Raccoon out! If your vents are not covers with good heavy wire they can get in through that also! If the top of the run is not covered, a Raccoon will climb over and search for any hole it can squeeze through to get to your flock. Standard chicken wire is ok for most smaller predators but it will just not keep some out!
Fox: This predator is very crafty and sneaking. The term “Sly as a Fox” is around for a reason. You rarely see him! this one is dangerous especially around dusk just before the chickens go up for the night. Free Range chickens are vulnerable to this predator also! Catch them in a live trap and transport them to a mountainous area a long way off and turn them loose.
Opossum: This predator is like the Raccoon in a way in that he will climb and find an opening if there is one. He is not a intelligent nor as crafty as the Raccoon but he will still kill a whole hen house full of chickens if he can get in! Different people have experienced different results with this creature. I have read where they wander around in the yard and never bother the chickens? I do not know why? Others report that they have killed all their chickens! I guess they all have their own personalities or something. I would trust them. Catch them in a live trap and transport them to a mountainous area a long way off and turn them loose.
Hawks: This predator is a hard one to defend against. The hawk has probably been responsible for more small and baby chickens that any of the others listed. Hawks will circle until they get the right chicken away from the rest and swoop down without notice. The chickens are literally surprised into shock sometimes. Others will scream for their lives. A good Rooster will fight a hawk to his death. Some Roosters have actually killed some hawks! A chicken run must have a top to keep this predator out of it! When free ranging, there just isn’t much you can do! Some people feed corn to crows to keep them around to chase the hawks off! This may be the best prevention for hawks?
Snakes: This predator is not a huge chicken killer but it will destroy your eggs and little baby chicks. If you have never had any dealings with a black snake, you need to understand that a small one can get into a one inch hole! This is one of the reasons to check and double check your coop for holes and gaps. I have read where snakes have destroyed several eggs and baby chicks. They have also been responsible for the death of several grown hens. They try to swallow them but all they can swallow is the head and neck. By the time they release the hen she will be dead.
Coyotes: This is a larger predator and is becoming very common in the Eastern States. Here in Kentucky I am hearing more and more of coyote spotting’s. That being said, they have been released by the State to try to populate them back into our area and we are starting to see more and more as time goes on. It is just a matter of time before they are populated and they will become a predator to deal with here also. The coyote is a large dog like animal and he can dig and will dig under your chicken run to get to your chickens! It is important to bury your fence around your run! A coyote could kill your entire flock in very short time if they are confined and cannot get away from it. Flimsy chicken wire may not keep it out either!
Weasels: This predator will kill an entire flock if it gets in your coop or chicken house. It will bleed every chicken in the place just for the taste of blood! They are very good climbers and this is another reason for a covered run! Be sure to close all gaps in your coop or house. This one can get into very small places also!
Bob Cats: This predator is a large cat like creature with great agility, speed and strength! A chicken has no hope if this get after it in the open. Even if the chicken flies in to a tree, the Bob Cat is a very good climber! They do not like being seen and therefore they are not very active around your flock in the daylight. Dusk and dark find them on the prow hunting for food! A hungry Bob Cat will get a chicken if it is seen and not protected by her pen or coop!
Domestic Dogs: This is a predator we are all familiar with. Most dogs can be trained not to bother chickens and other barnyard or backyard pets! Most domestic dogs will not wander into your backyard but there are the strays and half wild one that have no permanent home and when they get hungry they will find a meal any where they can including in your backyard if they find the opening to grab it! Dogs are also animals that can be influenced by other dogs. When in packs they can be dangerous even to people! Many chickens have fallen prey to stray dogs in the daytime!
Owls: This predator is the most common owl in the United States. Common Barn Owls are a terror to a good hen is she gets in his sights! Long talons that are razor sharp and a very formidable beak will kill a chicken very quickly!
Feral Cats: This predator is just like a house cat or domesticated cat. The difference between a domesticated cat and a Feral Cat is a feral cat has never been tamed by humans and lives in the wild. This is not a cat that has been dropped off and is a little afraid of a stranger. Feral Cats just like Bob Cats are wild and will eat all kinds of small rodents and animals. This does include chickens when the opportunity arises! This is another predator who will climb your fence and get in small holes if possible.
Mink: This predator is a notorious chicken killer. They will clean out a chicken coop if they get in, you will come out and find every chicken in the coop dead! They will kill just for the fun of it! The more they kill the more they want to kill! The chickens do not havea chance with this animal!
Skunks: This predator is a animal that will eat the eggs if found! If it gets in your chicken coop it will kill your chickens also! They have been know to kill just a few to every chicken in the coop! The best way to trap this animal is to cover the entire trap except the opening. when you have it in the trap keep yourself behind and do not let it see you and you can transport it without it spraying you. I know, I have done this twice. Use a live trap like the ones below and cut a slit in the top of the cover for your handle. It works, just go slow.
If you want to keep predators out of your flock you have to make preparations before they attack! You are the only protection they have sometimes. Be prepared and build a good coop and run with a top on it. If you live in an area where there are large predators like coyote or mountain lions you need heavy gauge reinforced wire. These predators will tear through thin chicken wire.
These Night Lights will help scare off predators and can be mounted around your property. They are good for just general protection also! You can check out our Night Lights HERE.
An Electric Fence can be attached to your Coop so when predators try to get to the coop they are shocked. You might want to put a couple of strands to make sure they don’t jump up and over the first one. You can find our Fence Box HERE.
You can get Fence Insulators HERE
Get Fence Wire HERE .
Chicken Wire and heavy gauge wire are a necessity.
You can check out Chicken Wire HERE .
Live Traps are a great way to catch and transport your problems without bloodshed!
You can get check out our Live Traps HERE!
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