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Chicken Predators

Last Updated: 7/5/07

Predator Proofing
Birds of Prey - hawks and owls
Dogs - foxes, coyotes, and domestic dogs
Weasels
Other - raccoons, opossums, skunks, etc.

This page is under construction.

I started renovating my bird pages in October of 2006. By July 2007, it was obvious they were not going to be finished if I added all the new information to the pages that I had initially intended. In order to get what I have written linked into the pages, I decided to just note which pages were unfinished and link them all in. This is one of those pages that is not complete. I am sorry.


Predator Proofing

Billions of people eat chicken and so do millions of other predators. If a predator can get to your tasty chicken, he/she will! In March of 2002, a pair of hawks killed our rooster, flew off with a hen, and ripped holes in another hen who was stitched up. In March of 2004, that same hen and one of our new roosters (Beebee who was almost 2 years old, and the only chicken I have ever hatched myself) were killed by one or two foxes. So, what did we do to prevent this again and what can you do?

If your chickens are not used to having hawks around, they will not know to hide and will be killed. If you are not sure, assume hawks can get them. To prevent hawk attacks, chickens must never be loose. Their pens must have a fenced top as well as all the sides. We have vinyl-coated PVC dog fencing for our pens on top. It lets in squirrels sometimes who get into trouble but not the hawks. We lost two chickens because my mother decided the chickens would love to run around during the day. The only one who ended up loving it was the hawks.

It is obvious that dogs, coyotes, etc. will try to get to the chickens so that you need a strong fence around the edges. If you cannot break into the cage without using tools, then it is probably safe from the sides. We have the dog fencing topped with 1" chicken wire on top of it about 2 feet up. This keeps smaller predators out and chicks in if you ever have those. Of course, some small predators like weasels could climb up to the larger holes in get in. They are one predator we have so far escaped.

We had turkeys and chickens for a dozen years and never before did foxes get in until 3/24/04 when I found a hole 13" wide by 6" deep under the wooden boards that run along the bottom of the chicken run. The door into the coop was open since I only shut it only really cold nights. Salty and Beebee were roosting on the low branch, and their body parts were all over. The other four were smart enough to stay up on the high roost and were fine. Details of the hawk and fox attacks can be read on my chicken page. To keep foxes out, close the chickens into their coop at night. The floor must either be cement or impenetrable to digging. Along the outside edges of runs, to prevent dog and fox digging, put chicken wire on the ground. You can put it on top of the dirt or bury it down a little. Attach one end to the bottom of the main fencing or bottom boards and tack the other end into the ground either by burying it or buying metal sod staples from your local home center to hold it down.

You have to think like a predator. Imagine you can fly, climb, or dig. Imagine that you are so starving that you would do anything to get to the chickens. Imagine your only tools are teeth/beaks and claws/talons. Now, how would you get into the chickens' house? If you can think it, they can do it! In fact, they will think of things that you never thought of in a million years! Once a wolf-like dog actually bit a 3" x 3" hole into the chicken wire with his bare teeth. While the turkeys there at the time were not harmed by the dog, the tom got all bloody trying to get at the dog! The snow was splattered with blood.

Many chickens do become predator-wary after learning from other chickens or living through these attacks but there is no predator-safe chicken who will never get caught. Roosters in my experience almost always defend the hens with their lives and always die for it if they do. You have to admire that.


Birds of Prey

Birds of prey include eagles, hawks, osprey, falcons, owls, and vultures. Hawks and the related falcons are the biggest threat to chickens but sometimes owls will take them as well.

To read about the hawk attack on my chickens, go to this section.

For more on various birds of prey, check out my page on birds of prey.


Dogs

Dogs include domestic dogs, foxes, and coyotes who will all try to eat chickens. The fox though is the pro at it. The other dogs are similar in what they do but they should take lessons from the fox.

To read about the fox attack on my chickens, go to this section.

Here is a link I found on foxes and chickens. This is an archived version of the site.

Max informed me that as far as deterring foxes, "...your best bet is an electric wire close to the ground. Fox climb like cats and dig like a dog. Electricity is the only tool I found successful in containing (or keeping out) a fox...." For me, the chicken wire in the ground has worked so far since the attack.

Also, check out my fox page.


Weasels

I will add to this section later.


Other

I will add to this section later.


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