Unfortunately, chickens are vulnerable to quite a few predators, but there are things that you can do to keep them safe.
What killed my chicken? Your chicken may have been killed by common chicken predators like hawks and snakes. Other pests will at times go after chicken food and disturb or hurt your chickens in the process, like rats, weasels, squirrels, raccoons, bears, and songbirds. You can keep most of them away with a good fence.
Read on to learn more about what animals go after chickens and how to keep your coop safe from predators and pests.
How to Keep Predators Away From Chicken Coop?
One great way to keep predators away from a chicken coop is to put up a fence. If you use wire mesh, just make sure that the openings are smaller than one inch (2.54 cm) wide so predators can’t reach inside. Electric fencing is the best kind of fencing to use against ground predators.
How to Keep Predators From Digging Under Chicken Coop?
To keep predators from digging under the chicken coop, bury mesh fencing at least one foot (30.48 cm) deep around the perimeter of the enclosure. This will keep both predators and pests from reaching your chickens because they aren’t capable of digging that deep into the soil.
Keep Chicken Predators and Pests Away
Keeping pests out of your chicken coop is important for keeping your coop free of disease and free of predators.
Many pests are prey to the same animals that hunt chickens, so having them around will draw predators to the area and make them more likely to attack the chickens.
Will a Hawk Eat a Chicken?
Hawks will eat chickens if given a chance, but you can prevent them from getting into your coop by installing wire mesh around it and installing the coop away from trees that might attract hawks. Solid walls and a good roof will also keep hawks from reaching inside.
How Does a Hawk Kill a Chicken?
Hawks can kill a chicken by attacking from above. They sit on a perch high up in the air, watch for prey, and then suddenly dive and swoop to capture their prey. Their eyesight gives them a big advantage while hunting. Some hawks, like the red-tailed hawk, can see prey up to a mile away.
How to Keep Snakes Out of Chicken Coop?
Reducing the presence of rodents in your coop is one way to decrease the likelihood that you’ll have a snake problem since snakes are attracted to prey. Solid walls and fine mesh are also helpful for keeping snakes away.
Snakes also like to hide in tall grass, weeds, and brush, so keep your coop free from such hiding places if you don’t want to give snakes an advantage.
Related: How to Keep Snakes Out of the Chicken Coop? | Identification and Control Guide
How to Get Rid of Rats in Chicken Coop?
To get rid of rats in a chicken coop, the first thing you should do is remove their access to food. Below are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Do this by placing food in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid.
Step 2: Then, you can set a trap for them under a milk crate; this will prevent chickens from getting into the trap and hurting themselves.
Step 3: Use chicken feed or some other familiar food source as bait.
Another method is by using rodenticide. This is generally not recommended because chickens and other animals can be poisoned by eating the poisoned rodents. However, if you do use a rodenticide, use an acute toxicant, which won’t spread to predators.
You can also decrease the presence of rats by installing fine mesh or solid walls on your coop.
How to Get Rid of Mice in a Chicken Coop?
Like rats, mice need a food source to stay in a particular place. To get rid of mice in a chicken coop, the first thing you should do is remove and protect food sources in the coop from discouraging mice from returning. You should also repair any holes in your enclosure, as a mouse can easily fit through any opening that has at least ¼ inches (0.64 cm) wide or bigger.
Mice and other rodents can gnaw through soft materials, so make sure that your chicken coop surfaces are made from hard materials like concrete, sheet metal, brick, or hardware cloth.
You should also make sure that doors are shut and sealed as much as possible, just so long as the sealant isn’t something mice can gnaw through.
If you have mice living in your chicken coop, you can get rid of them by setting traps, just like you’d set up traps for rats. Make sure that the traps aren’t accessible to chickens because they could get hurt.
How to Trap a Weasel in a Chicken Coop?
The best way to trap a weasel is to use either a long spring trap or a snap trap. Both traps are intended to cause serious injury or death, so make sure that you keep them away from your chickens.
You can do this by placing the trap inside a box with a hole big enough for a weasel but too small for a chicken and then using chicken feed or another local food source as bait.
Long spring traps are about four inches wide (10.16 cm) on average, with the mainspring that’s about five inches (12.7 cm) long and ⅛ inch (0.32 cm) thick.
Snap traps are about three inches (7.62 cm) wide, with a seven-inch (17.78 cm) trap base made from wood. Snap traps are somewhat more common and easier to find.
How to Get Rid of Squirrels in Chicken Coop?
Squirrels, like mice and rats, are drawn to food. To get rid of squirrels in your chicken coop, protect your food supplies if you want to discourage squirrels from returning to the coop. Closing up holes in the mesh walls or installing solid walls is also a great way to discourage squirrels from returning to your coop.
You can also set traps for squirrels using chicken feed as bait.
How to Keep Bears Away From Chicken Coop?
To keep bears away from your chicken coop and pestering them, you may do the following:
- Limit the amount of time in which food is available at the coop.
- Only give chickens as much as they can eat at one time, and clean up the extra as soon as you can.
- Store your food securely and clean up your garbage, keeping it in secured bins.
How to Keep Raccoons Out of Chicken Coop?
The best way to keep raccoons out of your chicken coop is to keep food secured at all times, except during limited feeding times. Fences will also keep raccoons away, whether made of mesh or solid materials.
The chicken wire that will keep your chickens in may not keep raccoons out. So, you will need hardware cloth like Yardgard’s Hardware Cloth to keep wily raccoons from finding their way into your coop.
How to Keep Birds Out of Chicken Coop?
To keep birds out of a chicken coop, install wire mesh over the top and sides of the coop. As long as the mesh holes are small enough, it’ll keep out both predatory birds like hawks and songbirds like jays and swallows.
This keeps your chickens safe from predation and protects their food sources from animals that might steal them.
How to Stop Birds Eating Chicken Food?
To stop birds from eating chicken food, make sure to bring the chickens back into the coop to feed at dusk and close the doors while the food is out.
Even if your chickens are free-range, you can train them to come back to the coop in the evenings by only offering food and water there and then.
If your chicken coop is difficult for other birds to get into and you only feed your birds inside the coop, you don’t have to worry about outside birds getting to your chickens’ food sources.
Related: Where to Put Chicken Coop? | Information and Facts
List of Sources
Best Management Practices for Trapping Weasels in the United States
Snakes in and Around the House
What Are the Best Ways to Protect My Chickens From Predators?