Keeping a chicken coop safe is an ongoing challenge. Raccoons, weasels, skunks, and foxes are just a few of the predators that want to get to your flock. Chickens have many predators that can cause you many problems. Take some steps to protect your chickens and make your coop much safer for your feathered friends.
Do a Little Gardening
Simple gardening is an extremely effective way of keeping your chickens safe. Clear away any bushes, tall grasses or vegetation around the coop. Make sure you have a clear, wide area with total visibility. If you don't give predators any places to hide, your chicken coop is going to look much less appealing to them.
The Benefits of Chicken Wire
The first line of defense is a fence that surrounds the coop and chicken run. Chicken wire, which can be bought at most hardware stores, is lightweight and easy to set up. When you're shopping for chicken wire, look for the thickest wire possible with the smallest gaps. This can prevent even smaller predators, such as weasels and snakes, from terrorizing your chickens.
It's important to start with the right chicken wire, but the work doesn't end there. Take the time to set up the wire the right way, or it won't be the strong barrier you need it to be. Your chicken wire fence should be a minimum of 4 feet high with 12 inches buried underground as a precaution against digging animals. Lots of different animals are capable of digging shallow holes that allow them to easily slip under fences, so it's important to bury the wire at least a foot below the surface of the soil. This will deter most predators and keep your chickens safe.
Add More Defense to Your Chicken Coop
Because most predators prowl at night, it is essential that your chickens have a fully enclosed coop to roost. Keep them safe through the night with a well-built coop that's set up the right way. The base of the coop should be at least 4 inches off the ground so that vermin cannot hide underneath. All doors in your coop need to be sturdy and include a latch, so they can be closed tight.
A coop that's built and set up the right way will keep your chickens safer, but you still want to take one extra step and add another layer of security. Some predatory animals will use all their resources to get to your chickens. That includes sharp claws and teeth that they can use to get right through the walls of the coop. To stop predators from chewing through the walls of your coop, staple chicken wire directly to the outside walls.
Add a motion-detector light, which can be found at any home improvement store or website. A motion-activated light will frighten away any unwanted animals during the night. Get a light that's solar or battery-powered, and you won't need to run wires to get your light working.
Chicken wire is effective at keeping your chickens inside their coop and it can keep many predators away. However, there are some predators that are capable of breaking through chicken wire or otherwise finding ways around it. Reinforce your coop safety with hardware mesh material.
Start by burying hardware mesh all around the coop. To do this, dig a 6-inch trench all the way around the coop and begin burying your mesh at least 2 feet under the ground. This will keep even the toughest digging animals away from your vulnerable chickens.
And if you live in an area where owls, hawks, and other birds of prey live, you're going to need to protect your chickens from the dangers that come from above. Cover your coop area with more hardware mesh to prevent flying predators from swooping down and harming your chickens.
A Predator-Proof Coop
It takes extra time and effort, but with the right materials, you can make your chickens much safer. There is no way to completely predator-proof any chicken coop, but you can come pretty close with a few extra safety precautions. With just a little time and effort, you can rest easy knowing that your chickens are safe from whatever animal comes around looking for a free meal.