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Chicken Scratch Poultry

Friday, January 24, 2014

Predator Proofing Our Chickens - A Hard Lesson Learned

Hey friends this is Melissa and today I want to share a little practical advice (That I had to learn the hard way.) on keeping your chickens safe from predators.  You may be thinking to yourself, “This girl has only had chickens for seven months, what could she know about keeping chickens safe.”  Well, unfortunately I learned that if chickens are let to roam freely it is only a matter of time until a predator will get them. 

My chickens have had a coop from the beginning, but have been allowed to free range all day.  I would let them out in the morning, then they would hunt bugs, dust, and scratch through our yard to their hearts content.  In the evening my rooster would lead his ladies back to the coop and there they would spend their night safely closed in.  Ever since we moved in October, my Aunt Angie tried to tell me that there are many more predators in a rural area.  She said, “If you do not watch it something is going to grab your chickens.”  I thought to myself, “The chickens stay in the yard, there is a huge open field all around our house.  No predator will come out into the open all the way into our yard and grab our chickens.” Unfortunately Aunt Angie was right.
Little is missed!  

 Several days ago we realized that our rooster named Little was missing.  My husband and I both looked all over our yard, the field,  and down the road for any sign of him.  It was almost as if he vanished.  We are almost certain that just as it was getting dark a fox or coyote slipped up on the chickens and, being the defender of the hens, Little was the victim.  Our hens really miss their rooster. Since Little lead the girls to the coop every night, without him they did not even go to the coop when it was getting dark.  We helped them out a few nights, then they adjusted and started going without our help.

I had to learn the hard way.  After the loss of Little I took Aunt Angie’s very good advice and fixed a nice large chicken run off the barn.  We moved the coop into the barn and now the chickens can spend their day’s safe in and out of the barn.  They have plenty of room to scratch and dust in their chicken run.  When we are outdoors I plan to let the chickens out to free range. 
This is our old barn.  It is not in the best shape, but it works for keeping the chickens safe.  Hopefully we will be doing some repairs to the barn when it gets warm.

Part of the reason that I had not taken Aunt Angie’s advice on keeping the chickens in a large pen, was because I felt they would be happier if let to free range the entire yard.  While the chickens LOVE to free range, it is better for them to be kept safe from predators. 

It is a little hard to see, but we have fence all around the lean-to
and the chickens access the barn through the door.  This was
already their favorite place to look for bugs, so it
worked out perfectly!

Our pen is very simple and something almost anyone can come up with.  We just used our preexisting barn.  We put a fence up around an old lean-to that is on the barn and then closed off all of the barn entrances so that no predators can get in.  The chickens are still spending their nights in the small and very secure coop so we did not have to go too wild predator proofing our entire barn.  My husband and I spent a couple hours in the cold and had the chicken run all ready to go.  Our chickens can now be safe and happy!

Have you ever had to learn anything the hard way?  Leave a comment and share it with us, maybe we can all learn from each other!

God Bless


1 comment:

  1. It could've also been a hawk or an owl (yes, even in the day time). If there weren't any signs of feathers that would be my guess. You have to remember, everything likes chicken.