If you want to know what danger lurks around and on your property at night, buy chickens.
I swear, anything and everything will come out of the woodwork — so many dangers, it will blow your mind. I don’t care if you live in a subdivision — you will soon discover that the neighbor’s cuddly little pooch, is not your best friend. And don’t be shocked if a Coon ends up in your pretty as can be backyard either — those things are everywhere.
My son asked me what would happen if every chicken in the world was released into the wild. “If one day, Mom, everybody let all the chickens go. What then?”
“They would be extinct within’ a week.”
Did my blunt reply seem cruel or unrealistic? Not by my experience. The fact is, chickens have no survival skills what so ever. Even if you lock things down like Alcatraz, eventually something will show up and make a jack ass out of you. Night. Day. Doesn’t matter. Chickens are always hunted down no matter what time it is. So here are some tips, which will more than likely grow as time goes on, because I can promise you, even I get taught a new lesson every now and again by Mother Nature herself.
Common Threats (Just the tip of the iceberg.)
These will depend on where you live . . .
- Chicken Hawks (Don’t underestimate them. They know how to reach through chicken wire and shred a bird bit by little bit getting every morsel out.)
- Weasels (Those scoundrels can squeeze through the tiniest of places.)
- Stray Cats, House Cats, or Wandering Dogs (While my cats have never killed one of my birds, there have been some strays coming through that did. And if someone’s dogs snap a leash or escape— look out. Don’t even underestimate a neighbor’s dog no matter how friendly. They can wipe through a flock of birds just like that.)
- Bob Cat
And who knows what else.
This site actually does. Click for great information on predators.
On that link, you can find information such as this…
- If adult birds are missing but no other signs of disturbance exist, the predator probably is a dog, a coyote, a fox, a bobcat, a hawk, or an owl. These predators typically are able to kill, pick up, and carry off an adult chicken. Hawks typically take chickens during the day, whereas owls take them during the night.
- If chicks are missing but no other signs of disturbance exist, the culprit may be a snake, a rat, a raccoon, or a house cat. Such predators sometimes leave some feathers and wings scattered away from the site because they are not able to swallow these parts.
- If birds are dead but not eaten and have parts still intact, a weasel may have attacked the flock. Members of the weasel family, including mink, kill just for the fun of killing. Often, the chickens’ bodies are bloodied. Also, you might notice that internal organs have been eaten.
- If birds are dead and not eaten but are missing their heads, the predator may be a raccoon, a hawk, or an owl. Raccoons sometimes pull a bird’s head through the wires of an enclosure and then can eat only the head, leaving the majority of the body behind. Also, raccoons may work together, with one scaring the chickens to the far end of a pen and the other picking off the birds’ heads.
- If birds are only wounded, not dead, various predators may be to blame. If birds show signs of bites all over, a dog may have attacked the flock. Dogs do not have sharp enough teeth to consume animals cleanly. If the wounds are on the breasts or legs of young birds, an opossum may be the problem. Bites on the hocks of young birds often indicate that rats have preyed on the flock. If birds have bites and show signs that their intestines have been removed through their cloacae, the attacker may be a member of the weasel family, or cannibalism may be occurring in the flock.
- If eggs are missing, one of several predators—including skunks, snakes, rats, opossums, raccoons, blue jays, and crows—may be at fault.
Tips: Learn from each and every attack. That’s going to be your best defense. No matter what you build, you will always keep updating, improving, hoping that finally, its predator proof.
As I said before, too, I learn as I go and since I Free Range, I learn quite a bit. I learned that if the day is cloudy with no sun, I keep a close eye on my birds or keep them confined. One day, in winter, it was bitterly cold and I guess food supplies were low out there in the wild because sure enough something nailed my birds — under the blanket of clouds.
Call your Game Warden and know your local laws. Here, if a bear attacks in summer, we are not allowed to kill it. They won’t always trap it either. And to get a Kill permit — well, it isn’t a drop in the hat. Know your Laws and your Options. You don’t want to get Fined or trouble.
Bear — If you are able, a good way to steer them away, is an electric fence around your Coop. Take renalds wrap, smear peanut butter inside, and then fold it over the fence. The bear will smell it and try to take a bite. The goal is to shock him/her really good so that they run away and stay away.
We lined the floor of our run with wire. We plan to eventually pour sand or concrete over it but for now, it keeps things from digging under the walls and getting in. Oh yeah, them critters know how to break in and cause havoc. On dreary days, days when it’s cloudy, a chicken always gets snatches by whatever lurks by.