How to Protect Chickens from Predators

A backyard flock of chickens can be such a pleasure, whether you keep them simply for their eggs or view them as members of your family. One important aspect of keeping a flock of any size, whether you are in the city, the suburbs, or a rural area, is to protect your birds from predators.

Fox Taking Chicken

There’s no doubt that your backyard chickens depend on you for ensuring their safety, health, and housing. In turn, your feathery friends will offer you entertainment, fertilizers, meat, eggs, pest, control, and so much more.

But if you’re keeping your chickens in your backyard, it’s more than likely you’ll run into trouble with wildlife. Almost all predatory species enjoy feeding on chicken if provided the opportunity.

Unless your chickens are securely housed within their coop at all times (this is rarely the case), you need to accept that your chickens are vulnerable to predators. Your fluffy friends are entirely reliant on your to provide them safety and housing. For this reason, you must take the appropriate measures to protect your flock from predators and minimize your losses.

Predators are drawn to a coop, run or yard because:

  • Chickens or chicks are an easy, quick snack or meal
  • Access to fresh eggs is easy and inviting
  • Chicken feed is inviting for rodents/vermin
  • There are plenty of tasty vermin (rats and mice) nearby

Which predators do you need to protect your flock from? And how?

Which Predator attacked my Chickens

Unfortunately, your flock is vulnerable to many predators starting from owls right up to bears. Some chicken predators like raccoons, eagles, and coyotes are widespread, whereas others may be rare.

Typically, raisers in various areas deal with different potential poultry predators. One person may get regular visits from opossums, raccoons, owls, while others may often see foxes.

Therefore, the first step to protecting your chickens is identifying who the predator is. Luckily, different predators boast different hunting and feeding behaviors that make it easier for you to pinpoint the poultry thief.

Foxes, coyotes, and bobcats typically hunt at night and take the chickens with them. Raccoons usually pull a part of the chicken and leave the body behind. Raptors like hawks will hunt during the day and leave scattered feathers around the area.

Chicken Predator

Foxes, coyotes, and bobcats typically hunt at night and take the chickens with them. Raccoons usually pull a part of the chicken and leave the body behind. Raptors like hawks will hunt during the day and leave scattered feathers around the area.

On the flip side, owls swoop up chickens during the nighttime and take them to their nest to feast on. Bears may also eat your chicken, whereas weasels typically kill multiple birds by biting on their heads. Lastly, skunks and opossums may enjoy eating your chicken’s eggs.

How To Protect Your Chickens

Closely supervise free-ranging chickens as they are very vulnerable to feral cats, dogs, and predatory birds.

1/Bury Chicken Wire around the Coop and Chicken run perimeters

If you’re designing a run, you must remember that several chicken predators can dig under the run to attack your feathery friends. Here’s what you should remember:

  • The chicken wire keeps your chicken inside
  • Hardware mesh keeps the predators out

The thing is that a determined and hungry predator can easily break through your chicken wire. However, a hardware mesh that’s at least 2 to 4 feet deep around the compound will keep the predators at bay.

Dig a trench in your backyard that is about 6 inches deep and 3 inches wide. Next, purchase a hardware mesh and fix it within the groove to ensure underground security within the perimeter. Your hardware mesh will deter predators from digging into the ground.  

2/Build a Robust Fortress

The coop structure where your feathery friends rest and sleep through the night needs to be robust and well-covered. A good idea is to design an outer pen fabricated from tight and robust hardware cloth over a solid wooden frame alongside a solid, plastic roof. 

Furthermore, consider attaching a ramp that leads to a pop-hole door and inside a roost/nest-box manufactured from secure wooden boards. With this portion of your coop elevated, predators won’t be able to move below your chickens. Plus, ensure your outer doors boast secure latches to restrict the entrance of potential predators.

At the same time, if you live in an area rich in owls, hawks, and other flying predators, consider using chicken wire to completely cover your run. This way, your birds can enjoy fresh air without the fear of being swooped away. This is important when you have young chickens walking around the run with their mother hen.

3/ Remember to Tuck Your Chickens in

Typically, poultry predators operate under darkness in the early morning and evening hours. If you allow your birds to walk around freely during this time, some of your birds will likely go missing.

Luckily, chickens are creatures of habits and super easy to train. Start training your growing chicks by confining them in a permanent coop until they’re larger. At the same time, teach them where home is and where the food is.  

It’s always a good idea to teach your birds to come home upon being called. This way, you can train your chickens to return to their coop as soon as the sunsets. Next, you can lock them in to ensure they’re safe and sound throughout the night.

4/ Increase Visibility around Your Chicken Coop

Protecting chickens

If you’re someone who boasts a large garden, make sure you don’t leave an opening for chicken predators to hide in. The less cover you offer a predator, the easier it will be for you to spot them before they attack.

For this reason, it’s necessary that you cut down tall grasses, overgrown areas and eliminate other potential hiding places within 50 to 75 feet of your chicken’s coop. Typically, this will thwart the confidence of your predator, and they won’t expose themselves while attacking

Chickens are prey animals by nature – and their natural behaviors as such can easily trigger hunting instincts, even in domestic dogs and cats that have not been desensitized or raised with a flock. You must make protecting your hens a priority – and understanding which predators are a potential issue is the first step.

The Bottom Line

According to in-depth research, raising backyard chicken has grown dramatically in the past five years. It’s essential that when considering starting your backyard farm, you take great care of the safety factor.

Keep your fluffy, feathery friends safe from chicken predators like hawks, eagles, and owls by ensuring you don’t leave them out in the open. Plus, ensure their bushes, decks, and overhangs that protect your chickens from predators flying high above.

Moreover, remember that predator protection increases and decreases with seasons. During spring and fall, most flying predators are migrating, and during spring, predators reproduce. It means you need to learn ways to protect your chickens from hungry predators wanting to feed themselves and their young ones. 

If you’re a pet lover who enjoys keeping a variety of animals in the house, don’t assume that all your pets will love the chickens as much as you do. In fact, domestic dogs are notoriously known as chicken predators, whereas domestic cats can quickly kill baby chickens. By following the steps discussed above, you can ensure that your adorable chickens are always safe and sound!