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Sun’s coming up! What a beautiful day. This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24. It’s also a great day for you to predator proof chickens!
As the minutes and hours tick away there’s chores to be done. Chickens are waiting! We’ve been working with pastured poultry laying hens for almost 3 years. Taking care of our ladies, A.K.A. hens, has been surprisingly easy. Well, minus the predator problem that took out more than half of our hens! OUCH! But, now we’ve upped our game.
Predator Proof Fencing
We were first turned on to electric fencing by watching various homesteaders on youtube. We live on small acreage and just didn’t want to invest in fencing. That is until a majority of our hens were murdered one night! We tried the plastic chicken fence on the coop and then chicken wire to no avail. The predator kept attacking, reaching through the chicken wire. Then, we added the wire mesh that is a tenth of an inch on the coop and ground, so the predator couldn’t reach underneath the coop!
The predator was relentless! Finally, we decided to try the electric poultry netting. This was our final option. It had to work if we were going to keep chickens on the farm! I am happy to report NO PREDATOR DEATHS since adding the fence.
If you’re on the fence about getting electric poultry netting, I can testify, “It’s worth it!” We’ve had racoon problems that nearly wiped us out. Electric Poultry Netting stops predators! It also helps reduce any escape artist hens!
The only negative thing I would say about the electric netting is to those with rocky soil. It is hard, sometimes, to find that sweet spot for the post. It’s very doable though. We live in the Ozarks and the electric netting is worth the effort and investment. We bought the cheapest electric charger we could find. You may be interested in this electric fence charger! Also, keep the fence line grass cut short to keep the fence running smoothly.
Using electric poultry netting, we move our hens to a fresh new piece of land every 2-3 weeks. We give them just enough time to mow, debug, and fertilize the area. Then, it’s time to move on to a greener spot. This is the method we prefer, but if you want your hens in a permanent spot, this fence is perfectly fine staying put.
Maybe it’s just me, but the hens seem to love moving day. They all seem more active, making their mark on this new space they’ll call home for the next few weeks. We move them around the property quite easily. Inside their oasis we have a mobile chicken coop, 5 gallon bucket waterers with nipple inserts. Water only needs replenished every couple of days for 25 chickens!
So, what happens to the chicken manicured spot after they’ve moved on?
Some of it will be covered with hay in preparation for next year’s gardening season. The areas not gardened will be mowed…not a fan of grass mowing, but we’ll keep it minimal. Grow food not grass! Right?! Eventually, the grass will feed chickens again.
Other Ways to Ward Off Predators
Aside from the electric poultry netting, listed below are FIVE other ways to predator proof chickens.
- Live Trap: The live trap is a harmless way to trap a predator. As I mentioned earlier, we were dealing with a racoon. We were tipped off by a neighbor that bread and honey is the perfect recipe for luring a racoon. Sure enough, it worked! If your dealing with a critter like a racoon, mink or a opossum, a live trap works very well. We set it right beside the chicken coop and caught it on the first or second night. Check your local area for laws about live trapping animals. Some places require you to set it free, in a different location of course.
- Lock and Key: Here, we’re talking shutting and locking the coop door at night. Chickens go to bed around dusk. To protect them from predators, secure the coop with a good locked door. We do not lock our flock in the coop each night. The electric fence has proven effective thus far. I’ve seen some use the electric netting and lock up their flock…just more security.
Livestock to Ward Off Predators
- Guard Dog: A lot of farmers bet on their Pyrenees guard dog. This is a large breed of dog. It has a reputation of being a good family dog. They were bred to protect and do not need to be trained to guard. I’ve seen chicken farmers use these with great results. The guard dog should live with your flock constantly.
- Rooster: The man of the flock will protect his ladies! I should say, “A good rooster will protect the hens.” Our rooster, Cogburn, (named by my kids after John Wayne’s character in “True Grit”) has taken down a predator before. They’ve been equipped by their maker with spurs, basically a little knife blade, on each leg. A rooster added protection to your flock.
- Guard Goose: I know it sounds crazy, but yes, a goose will help protect your flock! They sleep and eat with the chickens. The chickens are their posse! When threatened the goose will charge the predator. It, however, may also see you as a predator. The way to avoid this is to have some sort of shield between you and the goose to avoid being charged.
Overall, keeping chickens is very low maintenance, but when predators strike, you’ve got to “Nip it in the Bud” as quickly as possible. Hopefully, you will find at least one of these ways helpful to predator proof chickens!
Let us know in the comments if you’ve used any of these methods for protecting your chickens. For important info on keeping your flock healthy click here!