Predator Proofing Your Chicken Coop

Predator Proofing Your Chicken Coop

When owning chickens, keeping your birds safe should always be a priority. Unfortunately, these birds have a rather lengthy list of predators who won’t hesitate to harm your flock if the opportunity arises. It is important to ensure your coop is a safe place for your birds. This blog covers all the basics of predator-proofing your chicken coop, from proper fencing to locking up feed bins.

Know The Predators:
Familiarizing yourself with the wildlife in your area that may pose a threat to your chickens is ultimately the first step in knowing how to protect them. By doing this, you will have a better idea of any potential weak areas in your coop that need to be reinforced to prevent these predators from breaking in. Some common chicken predators include foxes, coyotes, raccoons, weasels, rats, and birds of prey, but depending on your location, these predators may differ.

Inspect Your Coop:
Check your coop regularly for any areas that a predator may easily breach. Inspect all coop structures, including doors, windows, walls, roof, and floor. Predators are often capable of fitting through tiny holes, so use hardware cloth secured by washers and screws to cover up any cracks or holes in your coop structure, as well as any windows. Keeping all windows locked and adding a complex lock to the coop door will help prevent raccoons from opening them, as they are known for their cleverness.

Whether you have a fenced-in run attached to your coop or a large area where your chickens can free-range, ensuring your fence is secure and won’t allow predators through is essential. Our experts recommend using hardware cloth with ¼” holes or smaller when building a fence to protect your chickens. Chicken wire is typically flimsy and has larger holes that predators can easily get through, so investing in a sturdier wire will better protect your flock. When putting up fencing in a run or a larger fenced-in area, bury the wire 6 to 12 inches underground to deter digging or burrowing predators. An alternative to burying your wire is to create an “apron” of hardware cloth which extends 12 feet outward from the base of your fence. Check out our selection of different fencing options at your local Feeds ‘n Needs!

Prevent Aerial Attacks:
Digging and burrowing predators aren’t the only ones threatening your chickens. Birds of prey such as hawks, vultures and owls are also a danger to your flock while they are outside in their run or when free-ranging. Cover the top of your run or fenced area with hardware cloth or a solid roof to prevent aerial attacks from these predators who fly overhead. Ensure that your covering does not leave gaps between it and your fence, as climbing predators could squeeze through.

Secure Food Sources:
Easy access to your chicken’s feed is an almost guaranteed way to attract predators to your area. Keeping all chicken feed and other food sources locked up in metal bins with secure lids will help to keep rodents and other predators out of it. Keep chicken feeders inside the coop to avoid spilled feed on the ground outside, which would surely draw in predators.

Lock up at Night:
Most predators of chickens are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night. This is when your chickens are the most vulnerable since they are defenseless as they sleep. If your flock free ranges during the day, ensure everyone is back inside before nightfall and that the coop door is latched securely each night with a lock that predators cannot open.

Motion Sensor Lights:
Since most predators are nocturnal, mounting a motion sensor light on or around your coop may startle them, deterring them from coming closer and making attempts to break in.

At Feeds ‘n Needs, we know the best defense against predators is a secure coop and fence. Check out the fencing options available at your local Feeds ‘n Needs, and be sure to ask our experts any questions about how you can keep your birds safe year-round. We’re happy to help!

For more tips, tricks, and information about raising and owning chickens, check out our related blogs:
Hen’s Health Throughout the Seasons
Prep Your Coop for Chicks
Livestock Bedding Options

Feeds'n Needs Team