Perhaps it is a bit of a misnomer to call these beautiful and wild animals enemies, but it is important for you to be aware of the fact that they can and will harm your flock if given the opportunity. One of key things to know is that simply keeping chickens does not attracts predators to your yard. It is the way that you house and tend to them that does. Therefore, it is important to try and develop good habits, especially when it comes to coop maintenance, feeding practices, and locking them up at night. Most predators are in fact lazy and if they can't gain access to your flock quickly, they give up and seek out other sources of food that are not difficult to access. Predators usually hang around if they believe they can easily obtain food.
Snakes- eggs and chicks
Skunks- eggs and chicks
Birds of Prey-hawks and owls
People- chicken theft
Rats/Mice- spread disease
Mites/Lice/Ticks- can kill birds if populations are large enough
From the sky
What makes your chickens vulnerable?
Access holes into coops and runs
Keeping the flock unlocked in the evening
Leaving food and water in the run outside
Unclean coop and run
The use of chicken wire
Inspect and make repairs to the coop or run where access is breached.
Cover the top of the run to keep animals out.
Remove food and water from the run at night.
Harvest eggs frequently.
Keep a rooster.
Limit free-ranging or try to supervise it.
Hang old CDs or repellent tape near the coop to deter hawks.
Use motion sensing lights near the coop.
Lock up your flock each and every night.
Add two to three foot wide hardware cloth apron around the run to deter digging animals.
Use predator proof locks. If a two year old can open the lock, so can a raccoon.
Train the family dog.
Keep chicken feed stored in covered metal bins.
Treat your flock for parasites.
Check out motion activated sprinklers.
Install electric fencing for larger predators.
Replace chicken wire with hardware cloth.
Try adding Nite Guard Solar blinking lights to your coop to mimic predator eyes.
About the author: Melissa Caughey is a backyard chicken keeper, beekeeper, gardener, and cook who pens the award winning blog, Tilly's Nest. She lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts with her family of four and her Miniature Schnauzer. She regularly writes for HGTV Gardens, Community Chickens, Grit magazine, and contributes to Country Living Magazine. Her blog was recently named one of Better Homes and Gardens Top 10 Gardening Blogs. Melissa is currently working on a backyard chicken book with Storey Publishing to be released this upcoming year.