In this, our sixth installment, I want to cover the topic of Predators and chickens.
Basically, chickens are defenseless against most animals. It sometimes seems as though the only other animal they can hurt, is fellow chickens (although small creatures like mice and frogs also don't do so well if they can get a hold of one!). Other than that, chickens get 'creamed' by most other animals, including...
- Family Pets
- and several others
When you are designing your coop, it is essential that you know what predators to expect. It is also good to know the tactics they typically use to get at your chickens.
Most predators, if they're strong enough, will just tear into your coop. Recently I heard about a fox getting in through a nesting box which had been designed to be easily removable for cleaning - unfortunately it also made it easy for the fox to just push up the loose base from underneath and get himself a tasty chicken dinner.
Another common factor to watch out for is digging. So, if you can build a coop that won't let predators in through the bottom, you have a great start. Burrowing down some strong meshed wire around your coop outline, down several inches and then out a few inches like an 'L' can help deter diggers (as can giving your coop a 'wire skirt' if it is a mobile coop). Another way might be to dig a deep ditch all around the coop and fill it with concrete.
Honestly though, there are a lot of things that can go wrong and also lots you can do to keep predators out of your coop, but a very important point is this...
You have to be vigilant and on the watch as well. Because even a "Fort Knox" designed coop will deteriorate and wear out over time. So if you are always aware of the coop and how your chickens are doing, your chickens WILL live long and healthy lives. If not, then you might be inviting bears, raccoons, hawks, or many other predators to have your chook for dinner.