As many of you will already know, fall and winter are a dangerous time for chickens.
This is because predator attacks are much more likely at this time of year. So in this article, we are going to give you some ideas about how to improve your flock security to prevent attacks.
You can prevent attacks at three places:
1. The perimeter of the run
2. The run itself
3. And the coop
We will start at the coop and work outwards towards the perimeter of the run.
Protecting the Coop
The final line of defense is clearly your coop. The biggest risk here is leaving the coop door open when the sunlight goes down. During the summertime, this is no problem as the sun doesn’t normally set until after 9 pm so you have plenty of time to get out to your coop and close it up. However, in the depths of winter, the sun can set before 4 pm and people are generally still at work. Don’t risk leaving your coop door open until you get home, instead you should look into getting an automatic coop door, or asking a neighbor to close it up.
Protecting the Run
One common mistake I see a lot of people making is confusing chicken wire and hardware cloth. Chicken wire should only be used to keep chickens penned into a certain area. It should not be used to prevent against predator attacks. Any reasonably sized predator will rip through the chicken wire leaving your chickens exposed.
Instead, you should be using hardware cloth. This is much stronger than chicken wire and can prevent most predator attacks. You should make sure to stack it 3 foot high and also bury it; smarter predators such as coyotes have been known to dig under. If you bury the cloth about 2 foot deep it will prevent this.
Protecting the Perimeter
One of the cheapest and most effective ways you can instantly improve your flock security is by using motion sensor lighting.
You can place these at the perimeter of their run. Anytime a predator gets close the lights will come on and this should startle them enough and send them running. However some of the larger, more confident, predators won’t be deterred by this and will still attack. So there are other things we can do to prevent attacks by larger predators.
I hope this short refresher on chicken security helps you and your flock during the winter. Remember at each stage of protection (perimeter, run, and coop) there are always vulnerabilities that crafty predators are trying to exploit. Be diligent and be cautious!