I’ve been in the chicken business for three years now. This is not my first experience with raising chickens, though. When I was young, my mother had a flock of 500 White Leghorns, and when my children were young, we had an assortment of fowl.
I live in rural western New York, three miles from the nearest village, and around the corner and across the creek from my closest human neighbors. Behind my house is a hill covered with deciduous trees, which slopes to a gravel bank and a large spring. Beyond that there are shrubs and meadows and a large marsh. My closest neighbors are actually all the wildlife that lives here. I see white-tailed deer every day; grouse swoosh out from underfoot. There’s an indigo bunting’s nest on the side hill, and a cardinal family living in the lilac bush. And then there are the Others … the predators … the ones that really, really like chicken dinner.
The Wildlife Damage Management site noted that “predation is rarely observed; … losses to specific predators often requires careful investigative work.” To me, this meant it would be important to know how each predator operates, to keep them from harming my birds. The Raising Chickens website does a wonderful job with this. Nearly every possible predator is listed and a description of their preferred method of attack given. Also, each section tells a bit about what you might find if the predators do get into your henhouse.
We decided against free ranging. Besides all the wild hunters, there’s a road that runs next to the coop. Motorized vehicles make short work of feathered friends, too.