Shield Your Chickens In opposition to These Frequent Predators


The advantages of free-ranging a flock are huge and diversified, with the general consequence that birds saved open air 24/7—or at the very least for a lot of the day—are extra lively and more healthy than their coop-kept counterparts. When you select to utterly free-range your fowl, they will need to have the power to shelter below buildings. Chickens with out entry to protected housing are most vulnerable to falling prey to predators. 

Predation Patterns

Chickens have lots of predators, however the major threats your chickens face will rely on what a part of the nation they name house. Hawks and different birds of prey, raccoons, foxes, weasels, opossums, coyotes, skunks, rodents and bears are only a few of the animals that contemplate your birds a tasty treaty.

It’s essential to do not forget that home canines and cats—whether or not your individual or a neighbor’s—additionally pose a really actual menace to free-range flocks. 

It may be useful to determine what predators put your chickens most in danger to find out one of the best course of safety. Native feed shops and different hen homeowners in your space can supply perception into regional predators at menace to your chickens. In case your birds are already below assault, noting the time of day they go lacking, in addition to the place on the chook’s physique the accidents might be discovered, may help to slender down the instigator. 

Birds of Prey 

Birds of prey might be discovered throughout North America. However how they threaten free-range chickens can differ by species.

Hawks and falcons will try and take birds through the day. Owls typically assault at night time. Hawks are persistent predators, killing only one or two chickens at a time, however returning repeatedly to an unprotected flock. Hawks usually decapitate chickens, consuming the breast meat and the entrails. Owls can depart behind a pile of feathers and different inedible components, but when it’s chicks they’re killing, they could take the whole chook.

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As soon as birds of prey have discovered your flock straightforward pickings, it may be troublesome to rein them in. Many of those birds are federally protected, so capturing them or capturing at them to scare them away isn’t an choice with out menace of a hefty wonderful and even jail time.

As a substitute, use these tricks to shield your flock from flying threats.


Let your chickens vary the place cowl, corresponding to bushes, timber or buildings they’ll get below, is available. Chickens typically see assaults coming and can run and conceal.

In case your birds have an space by which they regularly cross their time, contemplate putting in netting—or perhaps a stable roof—over the open space to restrict their accessibility to hawks and owls


Put poultry to mattress early. Owls hunt at night time, so corral your flock of their coop earlier than nightfall.

chickens chicken predators
Richard Pratt/Shutterstock

Spooky Decor

Think about using scare ways corresponding to hanging reflective tape, outdated pie tins, CDs or shiny pinwheels so that they spin and create vibrant flashes of sunshine, deterring birds of prey. (Don’t use mirrors, as these may begin a fireplace.) Observe that every of those ways won’t work on all birds that threaten your chickens

Decoys corresponding to scarecrows also can hold birds of prey guessing. These have to be moved typically or the birds will develop into accustomed to—and never intimidated by—them 

Loud & Proud

Use numerous noisy options corresponding to wind chimes or a radio to make even essentially the most persistent hawk pause. It’s essential that (just like the decoys) the sound be modified sometimes so the birds don’t get used to it.

Make the most of a hen saddle designed to confuse aerial predators. This piece of apparatus isn’t uncomfortable to your chook and received’t scare flockmates, however it is going to give aerial attackers pause.

Learn extra: Received rats within the hen run? Right here’s get and hold rodents out.


Coyotes are lively around-the-clock, however people who reside nearer to city areas are typically most lively at night time. A canine species that may weigh as much as 50 kilos, coyotes are discovered all through North America. They’re extraordinarily able to digging and leaping. They’ve been identified to scale fences nicely over 6 toes in top. Although coyotes can hunt in packs, they usually hunt alone when trying to find smaller prey. 

Methods to thwart coyotes from feasting in your feathered pals embody the next. 


Make the most of educated livestock guardian animals corresponding to canines, donkeys or llamas, to guard your flock, each when free ranging and when in a coop. (The important thing phrase right here is “educated.”)

Seals & Repairs

Maintain hen feed tightly sealed. Coyotes are omnivores and can eat all the pieces from bugs and vegetation to roadkill and livestock. Coyotes are drawn to scent, so eradicating hen feed within the night (from both coop or area) might be key to not attracting undesirable coyote consideration.

Set up “coyote rollers” on the tops of fences to forestall entry to your flock. These contraptions roll when the coyote tries to push off of them, thwarting his efforts to get inside

If coyote assaults are your No. 1 concern (and never assaults from above), remove bushes and different areas the place a coyote can disguise whereas stalking prey. 

Dig In: Digging is a coyote’s most well-liked technique of entry. To stop entry, set up {hardware} material 2 toes below fences.

Gentle It Up

Place solar-powered visible deterrents round hen perimeters. When activated, these emit vibrant crimson, flashing lights to scare predators away out of your chickens.


There’s lots of fact behind the saying “sly as a fox.” Fox assaults might be very troublesome to forestall: They’ll dig below fences and squeeze by way of small holes, eradicating chickens with little to no proof—even through the day. 

When you’re uncertain how the fox is gaining access to your coop at night time (or in the event you’re uncertain of precisely what’s stealing your chickens), it may be worthwhile to arrange a path digicam to see precisely how—and who—is getting in at night time.

  • Use heavy-duty fencing if you realize you have got foxes in your areas. Hen wire is usually not sturdy sufficient to maintain them out.
  • Set up motion-detection lights across the coop.
  • Stroll fencelines round the place your chickens keep at irregular instances to maintain foxes on edge. Additionally, verify for holes and fence weak factors.
  • Take away locations the place a fox can disguise close to the coop. The dearth of canopy will make them much less assured. (Once more, solely take away these areas if hawks aren’t your major concern.)
  • Think about getting a rooster, which is protecting of its flock and can sound the alarm if a fox (or different predator) is in sight.
  • Add a couple of guinea hens to your flock. Fiercely territorial, these fowl will combat something that challenges their authority.
chickens chicken predators
Irina Kozorog/Shutterstock

Minks, Weasels, Ferrets & Badgers

Present in pockets throughout North America, every of those Mustelidae can wreak havoc on yard flocks. All can squeeze by way of tiny openings in fencing and coops, and infrequently will kill a number of birds in a single break in. Frustratingly, although, they received’t eat all the pieces they kill. 

Badgers specifically are expert at digging and climbing, so it’s crucial you set your flock up at night time and shield them from assaults that come from above and beneath. If badgers reside in your space, strive these options.

  • Take away meals from the coop at night time to remove the easy-meal temptation. 
  • Use robust supplies to design and safe the door. (Badgers are robust!)
  • Go for robust fencing and set up it underground (about 10 inches deep).
  • Make the most of electrical fence or electrified poultry netting to discourage invasions.
  • Think about spraying mint, citronella, eucalyptus or scorching pepper scents round the place your chickens congregate. These critters detest robust smells.
  • Have a pup? Put a mattress he’s laid on exterior the coop enclosure to discourage nighttime guests.

Learn extra: Construct this DIY weasel field to maintain your hens protected.


The final word “staff participant,” raccoons are notoriously wily, typically teaming up with others of their ilk to coordinate a hen assault. Raccoons have 5 lengthy digits with a claw on the finish of every, making them notably dexterous and lethal to chickens as they’ll simply open and maintain locks and latches.

Raccoons are fairly lazy by nature. They’re drawn to meals however will discover the simplest approach potential to acquire it. Eggs and child chicks are notably weak. To guard your flock, contemplate the next. 

  • Collect eggs twice day by day.
  • Put chicks exterior solely once they’re able to keep away from attractive raccoons to a fast meal.
  • Utilizing a more-complicated lock than a easy sliding bolt or latch to forestall undesirable entry into runs and coops.


Skunks are identified for his or her egg-sucking talents. They’re additionally infamous for snatching eggs and chicks, and infrequently injure any grownup chickens that hinder their rampage. Along with their lethalness, their distinct odor makes for another reason to maintain them at bay.

To maintain your flock protected, contemplate the next factors.

  • Putting in {hardware} material across the hen coop to maintain them from taking over residence below buildings.
  • Lure the skunks and relocate them if native legal guidelines permit.
  • Place rags soaked in ammonia across the yard in or on steel containers—corresponding to outdated espresso cans or cookie sheets—to forestall the ammonia from seeping into the bottom. 
  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper across the fence strains, coop and anyplace else the place your chickens spend time. Skunks can’t stand the scent.

Any animal that’s hungry sufficient will work diligently to avoid any deterrent you put in to maintain your flock protected. Figuring out the predators in your space and getting ready for his or her favored mode of entry will go a protracted option to serving to hold your chickens safe. 

Extra Data

Order Chicks in Fall for Spring Eggs

Springtime is synonymous with infants. As temperatures rise, days get longer and animals get frisky. Broody hens spend extra time sitting on their eggs, and cheeping chicks begin exhibiting up in feed-supply shops. It’s no shock that spring can be the season when most individuals begin their flocks. However a rising variety of chicken-keepers are including fall flocks to their farms.

Subsequent spring, when different flock-raisers are simply establishing their brooders and welcoming new chicks to the farm, the chicks you bought this fall will already be laying eggs. You may additionally get extra eggs from fall-hatched chicks.

The explanation: Chicks bought within the spring don’t begin laying till the autumn. Simply as their reproductive methods kick into excessive gear, the times get shorter. This sends the sign that it’s time to decelerate egg manufacturing by way of the winter.

In distinction, chicks hatched within the fall shift into most manufacturing within the spring, laying nearly one egg per day (relying on the breed). When you get chicks within the fall, they’re maturing by way of the early a part of the winter and may postpone laying a bit bit longer.

However once they begin laying within the spring, the prime laying season, they will be able to go. 

Including chicks within the fall also can stop you from retaining the coop lit for sustained egg manufacturing. Staggering your new additions in your flock by including some chicks within the spring and a few within the fall usually will present year-round manufacturing with out the added gentle supply.

This text initially appeared within the September/October 2022 concern of Passion Farms journal.


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