Predator Proofing Your Chicken Coop and Run

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Predator proofing your chicken coop

You can save a lot of time, birds, and grief by making the initial investment to predator proof your chicken coop and run.

Keeping backyard chickens is a wonderful way to grow some of your own food and learn about animal behavior, but it does present the flock master with a few challenges. Perhaps the greatest is keeping chickens safe from predators. It’s worth rising to that challenge, however, and it’s not difficult if you understand what you’re up against. You need to deter animals that dig, climb, or fly. You must fortify your set-up to foil creatures small enough to slip through little holes, strong enough to destroy a car, or deft enough to open one-step locks.

Predator Proofing Your Chicken Coop and Run

You must understand from the start that virtually nothing is 100% effective, but it is possible to make the coop and run almost 100% effective. Our coop/run set-up has featured all of the strategies described below for 8 years (except for the electric fence wires, which we added last year), and we’ve not lost  single bird to predation while confined to the coop and run. It’s much more difficult to keep chickens safe when allowed to roam beyond the coop and run, and I’ll be posting about that in the future.

This post explains how to fortify your set-up to exclude the common poultry predators of the US. If you are not yet familiar with them, you might want to check out my previous post on Poultry Predator Identification, where their tracks, scat, and behaviors are discussed.

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Confine chickens to a predator proof space at night

Enough said. Some predators are indeed active during daylight, but many are more apt to strike at night while you are sleeping. Leave them out, and you might wake up to grisly remains, or to nothing at all. And don’t wait for your chickens to come in on their own. Many wild animals are most active at dawn and dusk, so I recommend calling them in well before sundown, and not letting them out till well after sunrise. Learn to train them to come when called from a previous post here.

Predator proof both coop and runs

It takes additional time, effort, and money to predator proof a run, but for us it has been well worth it. During mild weather we can leave the pop doors to the run open, giving the chickens constant access to the runs. Some people use an automatic pop door to close at night and open in the morning, to give chickens access to a less secure run during daylight. The problem with is that many predators are perfectly willing to strike during daylight, if the birds look easy enough to get. And what do you do when you go away? I would never give them access to an unsafe run even during daylight, when nobody’s home, and I’d hate to keep them confined to the coop for more than a few days.

Predator proofing your chicken coop

Because our runs are predator proof, our chickens always have access to them…and we sleep easily.

Elevate the coop

If you’re going to have a wood floor, put the coop on stilts, because the floor will eventually rot, creating entry for weasels, rats, and eventually larger digging animals. If you choose not to elevate, then don’t bother with wood flooring. Let the ground be the floor, but be sure to bury fencing well below ground level, or surround it with a skirt, as described below.

Cover windows with hardware cloth

If you would like to open windows on hot summer days, they need to be covered with 1/2 inch hardware cloth. Even with that protection, though, I almost always close the windows at night, because sometimes the chickens roost kind of close to the window, and I can imagine a raccoon terrorizing them, even if it couldn’t get in.

Keep feed from pests

Predator proofing your chicken coop

Keep feed in covered metal barrels to keep out mice and rats.

Store feed in tightly covered metal barrels to prevent access by mice and rats. Keep the barrels where raccoons and bears cannot reach them, because they can open these barrels.

Some people keep the feeder outdoors while chickens free range. Outdoor feeders, however, attract wild birds and animals, and that is asking for trouble. Some spread disease, some eat chickens, and others eat eggs, if they become comfortable enough to check out the coop.

We keep the feeder in the coop even while chickens range outdoors. They can return to the coop for a bite to eat every now and then if they cannot find enough outdoors.

Use half inch hardware cloth for sides, top, and skirt

Predator proofing your chicken coop

Half inch plastic coated hardware cloth secured with screws and washers.

Enclose runs with 1/2 inch hardware cloth, to exclude weasels and snakes. You might want to go with 1/4 inch for baby chick housing, but larger chickens would probably eat anything that could fit through 1/2 inch openings. Secure the hardware cloth with screws and washers, and space them closely enough to keep openings less than 1/2 inch.

For runs and coop with dirt floor: Bury hardware cloth 2 feet down, and/or place a skirt of hardware cloth 2 feet out. I’ve seen 1 foot quoted as sufficient for a skirt or underground fence, but I think that’s borderline sufficient. I once had a rabbit dig out of an enclosure with 18 inches of fencing buried underground. Perhaps most predators don’t dig as enthusiastically as rabbits, but I wouldn’t want to chance it.

Use plastic coated hardware cloth underground. Even galvanized hardware cloth gradually breaks down when moist. (We found it begins to disintegrate within several years even above ground, and now use only plastic coated hardware cloth for outdoor projects that we want to last.) Do this around runs, and if you didn’t elevate the coop, do it around the coop, too.

Predator proofing your chicken coop

Use half inch hardware cloth not just for the sides. Cover the run with it, too.

Don’t forget to top the run with 1/2 inch hardware cloth! Some people run fishing line across the top, which does seem to deter hawks, but does not exclude exclude climbing predators…And many predators climb well.

Don’t skimp by using chicken wire on top. Weasels can climb, and many of them can squeeze through 1 inch openings. Raccoons can climb, and they can tear through chicken wire.

Use hot wires in bear country

If you live in bear country, you’ll need electric wires around your chicken coop and runs, because bears can demolish sturdy structures, if the reward is a chicken dinner. We don’t have a breeding bear population in my part of Massachusetts, but dispersing individuals do pass through, and have been known to destroy entire flocks along the way. We added electric wires last year.

When you run the wires, think about the size of a bear and where it’s likely to come into contact with the coop/run. We have 3 wires running between 1 and 4 feet off the ground. They go up around the doors (so we can get in), so theoretically a bear could get in if it touched only a door. But that seems improbable, since a bear is not likely to understand that it needs to avoid the wires to avoid shock.

Predator proofing your chicken coop

3 hot wires surround our coop and runs, to deter bears, which could rip the hardware cloth right off the frame.

Padlock the doors

Predator proofing your chicken coopRaccoons use their nimble fingers to open simple locks and marauding humans do the same. Discourage both of these sneaky creatures with a padlock. A padlock might be overkill for a racco0n, but I’ve read enough stories about people stealing chickens. Deter both clever opportunists with a padlock.

Guard animals

If you have the inclination and time for training a livestock guardian animal, that may be the way to go. I am told that Great Pyrenees dogs are the best, while other dog breeds, donkeys, llamas, etc., may be less reliable. I know one person who was successful for several years with a pair of geese as the only guard animals for an otherwise poorly protected coop. However, it seems to me that a bear or even a family of coyotes would be content to make a meal of the geese. I’d go with a large dog.

Don’t rely on a rooster

In my opinion, the rooster’s ability to protect the flock is way overestimated. Not all of them are inclined to try. One of mine was always the first member of the flock to hide. Even if yours stands up to predators, he still sleeps at night, and during a day time attack, he can’t deter larger animals. He’ll be the first to die, and the hens will be next. His crowing can be a life saving warning to the hens when a small predator lurks, but more of a dinner bell for larger predators.

Beware of deterrents that sound too good to be true

Because they probably are. Deterrents like streamers, decoy animals, predator pee, loud music, strobe lighting, and ultrasonic repellents might work initially, but eventually predators may habituate to them.

Consider Predator Friendly Certification

Are you committed to sharing the land with wildlife? We are, and we recently became Certified Predator Friendly. I’ll be writing more about that in the near future, but for now, check out their inspiring program here.

What has been your experience with keeping chickens safe? What is your approach to predator proofing the chicken coop? What has worked and what hasn’t? Feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions below!


Predator Proofing Your Chicken Coop and Run — 73 Comments

  1. Once again you have provided timely and reliable information to all of us chicken owners. We are in the process of upgrading security on our coop and run after a significant fox attack. I thought we had an extremely secure system to house our flock, but one really persistent fox found a way in.

      • My chicken coop use to be my daughters playhouse, So it is not elevated. The floor is wood, and I check it on a regular basis, That being said, I am getting ready to put linoleum down on the floor, And I was wondering, If I took the wood floor up, I have extra chainlink fence, If I buried that and maybe cris/crossed it so the holes were small, or did chicken wire wrapped around the fence? Would that be sufficient to protect underneath them? I would then replace the floor with new wood, and the linoleum? I’m in the process of predator proofing now, We have 3 chicken hawks and a vulture..yes a vulture who is constantly stalking my birds, they already killed one of my neighbors hens, Her dog guards the chickens, but she was eating at the time, She killed one hawk,but not before it killed her hen. And I have cats everywhere around here, We do get raccoons, opossum, and weasels. Probably more…Would that floor be ok to protect my chickns? Thanks for all the good info!!

        • I use terracotta outdoor tiles in the floor of my run its easy to clean and doesn’t break down.
          (That was in my last run)

          For our new run in our new house im.building up and enclosing the whole run as it is enclosing my orchard of 12 various fruit trees and using 60cm built up Gardens of herbs and plant friendly plants for my girls around the whole perimeter that also deters critters etc

      • Hi

        We live in Luxembourg in Europe and have set out Duck house and Chicken coop on a concrete base as we have woods around and of course fox – the night is not our biggest problem at the moment.

        we like to encourage wild birds and want to free range as much as possible but today a hawk took the miniature rooster.

        Should we make a closed area for when we are not with the chickens during daytime ?

  2. Hi Janet — thanks so much for sharing Predator Friendly and Wildlife Friendly practices with the world — the world needs more, much more, of this!!

    Julie Stein, co-founder and ed, Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network

  3. Wonderful, practical advice on keeping your flock safe, especially the bit about hotwire in bear country. The time when bears wake and are ravenous is upon us, which seems to be the time that bears are brazen enough to try the coop for a meal (any time of year in areas where the bears are thick!).

    We deal heavily with large predatory birds around here… Even Bald eagles have been known to snatch a chicken or duck around here. We still love our predators though.

    • Thank you, Anna, I’m glad you appreciated the post. You are absolutely right – bears are waking up from hibernation now, they are famished, and because there’s nothing much to eat, they go for bird feeders and chicken coops out of desperation. BTW, I really appreciate your attitude towards predators, even though you’ve had losses.

  4. My coupe is made up of a 10ft chain-link fence buried 3″ in the ground with concrete poured in the trench.. but a coon still managed to get in by opening the door.. my door is spring loaded and they still got in… killed my big rooster!.. I have a one acre farm. Its more then 2 people can keep up

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  7. My birds have a super secure cyclone fenced coop and run inside a fenced back yard with plenty of space and I came home to 9 of my 11 young pullets dropped dead on the coop floor yesterday! Absolutely nothing was wrong with them. My vet suspects a hawk flew nearby and even though he couldn’t physically harm them, he terrified them to the point of heart attack! Now tell me how you prevent that?! I’m not gonna lock my birds inside a dark room all their life! Predator proofing is a whole new impossible level if just the sight of predators kills them.

    • Wow, what a story, Ashley. I am so sorry for your loss! But I find the vet’s interpretation hard to believe. We’ve had many predator scares over the years, and birds can freeze in fear, temporarily, but out of all that, I’ve had only one bird remain frozen in fear and die of a heart attack within hours. It can happen, but it’s not common. The chances of that happening to 9 at once are vanishingly small. I suspect there is something else wrong, so watch those other two birds.

      • Yes I thought it was rather strange myself! So I took them for a necropsy that discovered coccidia in 4 out of the 9. Looks like predators are in the form of parasites too! Still does not make sense that they were very healthy young birds for 10 weeks of their life up to that very morning and all of them gone by evening. Has anyone ever heard of having no symptoms and that many dropping dead from coccidia??

        • The coccidia might have been just an incidental finding, not the cause of death, especially if they appeared well and if it was found in only 4 of the 9. Necropsies of chickens don’t always show the cause of death. I had one bird obviously ill for weeks, but no one could pin a diagnosis on her symptoms so we got a necropsy when she died. They could not find the cause of death. You’ll read this a lot of Backyard Chickens forum, too, that necropsy failed to determine the cause of death. Are your two remaining birds still OK?

          • Yes the other 2 are still alive and well but I’ve started them on corid and a vitamin for the coccidia just in case. They do seem a little pale but are acting energetic. Anything you think may have happened, please offer any precautions you may suggest for the rest of my birds. Thanks for the comments so far!

    • Have you thought about getting camo netting? That way the hawks wouldn’t see the chickens inside the building.
      www (dot)

  8. When building a run for chickens that will never be able to run free range, how much “square footage” should be allowed per chicken to have as many chickens as possible but most importantly, maintain a healthy environment?

    • Hi Lori, I wrote about that in a post on Designing the Perfect Chicken Coop. Look at “Related Posts” just under this post, and you should see a thumbnail link to the one on designing a coop. The short answer is as much space as possible. Some sources say 10 sq ft per bird, but I consider that an absolute minimum. If you’re in a cold winter area, a run without a roof will fill with snow, and won’t be useful to the chickens in winter, so don’t include that in the square footage. If you are really tight on space, avoid flighty, high strung breeds (usually the slender, white egg laying breeds) because they really need to move and forage. Check out that other post for more details.

    • Sorry, Donald, I just noticed your comment now. Yes, an electric fence will work against raccoons if you set it up such that the raccoon will have to come into contact with the wire in order to enter the coop and run. I would say in our set up with the 3 wires wrapped around the lower portion of the coop and runs, it’s very likely the animal would make contact with one of the wires while trying to enter. Also be sure to use 1/2 inch hardware cloth and not chicken wire. Raccoons have been known to reach a hand in through the 1 inch holes in chicken wire, and grab a chicken by the neck. They can’t pull the bird out, but they try, often killing the bird in the process.

  9. Thank you for your post.It was really helpful. I made a horrible mistake yesterday and will forever regret it. I had four, 3 week old baby chicks. I keep them inside the house. The weather is pretty warm here now and I decided to let them go outside and enjoy the fresh air. It was probably warmer out there, then in the house with the heat lamp. I have a plastic baby pool that I also wrapped chicken wire around to keep them secure and what I thought was safe. I also have this set up inside of a screened porch. I have been doing this for about a week now. I really felt they were safe. Well yesterday a rat snake somehow got into the screened porch and through the chicken wire and got two of my four chicks. I am heartbroken. I feel so guilty for what they all must have gone through. My husband went out to check on them, and found the snake trying to eat one of them, and the other one was already in his belly. I didn’t put them in the coop or the run yet because I was worried about something getting in. My 4 adult chickens have been safe so far, but these were teeny tiny and I was trying to keep them extra safe. I have chicken wire around my run, sides and top, and other then snakes getting in and taking an egg here and there before we catch it, I have had no other issues. I am now re-planning my entire layout. I will also not put another chick on the porch without me sitting out there with them. You have given really good advice and I plan on following it.

    • So sorry for your loss, Terri. Right now I have five 2.5 week old chicks, and know what you mean by heart broken – I would be too. But don’t beat yourself up; just chalk it up to experience. They are such delicate little creatures, and we can’t always anticipate. every possible threat. When mine were a few days old, I put them outside on a very warm day in an enclosure. They were out for just one hour, but later that day I noticed one had an impacted crop. She was dead the next day. Did she eat something too large to pass while outside, and would she not have done so if I had kept them in the brooder for that hour?? Anyway, Im glad you found this article helpful. Best of luck with your new layout.

  10. Thanks so much for the great tips. We are in the process of upgrading our very pathetic coop … and reading all you wrote here shows me we have a LONG WAY to go. Though we’ve never lost a girl to a predator, we’ve lived in the city until a few months ago. One of our meat birds was taken by an owl … but it was totally our fault!! Poor thing. While that won’t happen again while they are in their coop and run, I know other predators can get in.

    Thanks again for the tips! I’m pinning 🙂

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  13. Where I am there is a very determined hawk that has a liking for chicken. One summer a strung Christmas lights along my fence for a party and just never took them down again. I noticed that we didn’t have hawk issues afterwards. I spoke with a falconer and he suggested that the glare from the sunlight reflecting off the lights was enough to interfere with her ability to see clearly into our yard.
    Building on that thought, I placed old cd’s on the corners of our chick run this past Spring and, although I saw the hawk flying over our yard, she never tried to get the chicks.
    It may not be fool-proof but it seems to be somewhat effective.

    • Betsy, that’s great that you found a way to deter hawks. I’ve read of other people stringing old CD’s over their chicken runs, and it seems to work for awhile. Often, though, hawks and other animals eventually learn to work around those sorts of deterrence measures, so keep your eyes peeled!

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  15. Thank you so much for your thorough information. It is really good to hear to always, always side with caution. My husband and I are new’ish to small scale farming and becoming more self-sustainable. We had a few chickens we lost a couple weeks ago to a Minx (it was so so terrible and I wasn’t sure I was cut out to be keeping chickens. I mourned those poor girls really hard for several days). I actually FORGOT to tuck the hens in that night. It was my fault they died. It was the ONE TIME I forgot – with a 14 month baby that was having an incredibly bad day, I was simply exhausted and fell asleep early. Now, I realize this sounds irresponsible, but knowing these techniques will help us better prepare for the young ones we have now, but like you said, nothing is 100%.
    This may sound silly, but are there any suggestions you have to remind you each night to put the hens to sleep? I was thinking a home-made switch for in the bathroom (which we both use before bed, so we’d definitely see it) that shows us whether the girls have been locked up….
    Anyone have any other suggestions? Please be kind, it was an incredibly sad learning experience and one I hope to never encounter again.
    Thank you kindly.

    • Hi Jodi, so sorry you lost your chickens! Forgetting doesn’t sound irresponsible at all, it just sounds like forgetting. Did you know they make automatic pop door openers where you can set the time for them to open and close? But I have a feeling that forgetting just once was so upsetting to you that you’ll never forget again. A switch for the bathroom might also work well!

    • I’ve forgotten a few times, by some higher power, everyone has been safe. Janet is completely correct, you probably will never forget. You could also be like me that for a long time, I would run to scan the backyard everytime the security light is triggered with a flashlight, armed with wasp spray.

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  17. We are getting ready to build our first coop. Unfortunately because of where we live we will be unable to dig down at all to bury wire and etc. Other than using the 90 degree apron method and also putting 1×1 cement pavers on top what else can we do to keep the diggers out? I have considered putting a smallish raise bed up over the wire to help the wire be at least partial buried. Not sure and any all advice and suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Any sort of apron that will prevent animals from digging down should work. One foot might not be quite enough, however. I think it’s borderline sufficient. I’d go out at least 18 inches, preferably 2 ft. Perhaps 2 feet of concrete pavers.

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  19. I just lost my entire flock of 10 to what I think was a marten which is part of the weasel family. I live in Austria and they are very common here. I built my coop on the ground and I believe my chickens dug a bit around the door and the marten got under it and when I woke up in the morning they had all been slautered. If I were to dig deep in the ground and bury cinder blocks around the perimeter of the bottom of the coop would that help or is it better to bury hard wear cloth in the ground around the bottom.

    • HI Christine, so sorry for your loss! You need to provide some sort of barrier to digging. It doesn’t matter what it’s made of, as long as the animals cannot dig through it, and as long as it won’t decay in the soil. If you choose to bury cinder blocks, there must be no spaces between them through which animals can dig, and the cinder block skirt must extend to at least 18 inches from the perimeter of the coop/run.

  20. Do you think I could do the barrier on the inside of the coup on the dirt floor? I could go many feet inside. Then cover it up? I could also do a minimal barrier outside as well.

    • If I understand correctly what you are describing, I think yes, it would be effective. However, diggers won’t know they can’t get in until after they’ve created a tunnel that goes under the coop, which means they could be hanging around your coop a lot longer than if you had a wide skirt outside the perimeter. That could be a problem if you ever let your birds free range, in which case you would not want predators hanging around at all.

  21. We had quite a problem with a weasel. He managed to kill a few of my ladies. After reinforcing the fencing, we now have a radio playing 24/7, low, a radio talk show. The different voices sound like people are in the area, and we have not had a problem in 2 years.

    • Reinforcement to exclude weasels was definitely a good idea. Not sure the radio is helping, though. Animals, especially clever predators, quickly learn that all those voices aren’t really there, probably because they expect to smell multiple people in association with the different voices, but they don’t. Anyway, the radio can’t hurt.

  22. I’ve lost way too many of my poultry. I wanted to go electric, but I would have probably zapped myself. My answer is steel pigeon spikes along the top of the chain link and various other areas. Anything that rubs against or hits it gets a very nasty surprise ( I’ve tested them). I have mostly trash pandas and between my spikes or wasp spray when I’m around, they hesitantly visit my coop.

  23. This is the best advice on how to build a run that I’ve found. I’m going to use this for my rabbit who is 8 1/2 years old and I wish I knew about a run years ago. And if I were to use regular hardware mesh on the top, will it rust over time because of the weather?

    • Interesting — we used the same set-up for our rabbits years ago. Be sure to put in a substantial skirt and/or go at least 18 inches under ground, because some rabbits do dig diligently and deeply. Regular hardware cloth on top is fine. It will rust over time, but very slowly. When it’s underground, though, it’s moist almost constantly, which is why it breaks down quickly. Also, it would be easier to replace the hardware on cloth when it does finally rust, than to replace the stuff underground.

  24. Hi Janet,
    I enjoyed reading your very helpful articles. You mention some precautions about wooden floors for a coup, but we have a concrete floor. Do I need to know anything special about that? Also, our little coup, where the chickens only reside at night, is just 5×8′. How many chickens can we have with a coup that small?

  25. Our first rooster was, indeed, the first to go. We thought we’d finally gotten the predator situation under control this late winter. Boy, was I wrong. Coyotes got two more of my hens before we finally realized what we were dealing with. How did we find out? They brazenly began stalking into my yard in the middle of the day…with barking “large” dogs at the sliding glass doors. My girls no longer free range and we’re trying to build a bigger and secure run for them.

  26. Thank for your great sage advice about keeping chickens safe. I myself have been sickened by the stories that people have told me ….. “I never lock my chickens up”, “I allow my chickens to free range all the time, day and night and have only lost around 20 of them over the years”, and once a lady told me….”I was horrified, I woke up one morning and all 26 of my chickens were dead all around the barn yard and in the field. I never knew they were so vulnerable. I thought they flay into the trees to get away from other animals that attacked them during the night.”
    Seriously….I wanted to jump up and down , scream and place my hands around their throats and ask them how they liked it….that is probably the last thing their chickens felt!

    I have tried to teach people how to keep their chickens safe.

    Thanks for this site. Keep up the good work.

    May God bless you.

  27. Hello,
    I was working on my coop, chickens started running to the other side of the run, I started looking for a hawk. Then out of the corner of my eye I see a dog, wait, thats a coyote. 12 noon standing 10 feet from me. No fear, well I could have killed him, but i didn’t, I shot the ground in front of him throwing dirt all over and he ran with a purpose. Hopefully he will tell his friends to avoid my place. I have a small farm in the country and have been living in harmony with all creatures. If I have to take em out I will. But hope for the best. So far the coyotes keep their distance but I know they will be back. Semper Fi.

  28. I just lost one of my girls her name was ruby the raisen hawk. I built them a 20 ft run out of pvc and chicken wire. But when we went out to feed them dinner she was in the corner of the run with her head gone. We suspect a couple of big hawks. Also we have had them for 5 months since babies. Any suggestions on either netting or yarn in the trees around the run. I love all wild life and know it is my fault I didn’t keep her safe please any ideas. Oh the run is connected to the chicken coop I’m a little distraught ty

    • So sorry for your loss! Chicken wire is not adequate. Raccoons can reach their hands in through the 1 inch holes and behead chickens while trying to pull them out. Also, weasels can fit through the holes, get in and kill the chicken, but then can’t get them out of the coop. The run should be totally enclosed with 1/2 or 1/4 inch hardware cloth. If there is no top, birds of prey will continue to get in.

  29. Walked into my chicken coop this morning and all 13 chickens were dead. 1 hen had her head ripped/bitten off and the head was found right outside the coop. The rest of the chickens were not touched/eaten, other than the fact of being killed. Also found a stash of eaten/cracked eggs not far from the coop beneath a piece of plywood leaning up against the barn. I feel like I’ve narrowed down the possible culprits, but was requesting more of a professional input. Thanks in advance for all your help!

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  31. Hello,
    We are in the process of building a new coop and run. I will be raising some rare breed chickens and want to add all of the security features I can. I plan on using your suggestion of having an apron around the coop and run to secure it. I have also learned much from other people’s builds. I see some people will use logs or cement pavers around their chicken runs also. Is this really effective? It looks like they are trying to use them as an apron/wall of sorts also. What do you think of this? I ask because I don’t want to do all of that back breaking work if there is no real benefit. : ) Thanks!

  32. I am about to be a first-time chicken owner 🙂 Reading LOTS and LOTS. Our coop will be pretty sturdy after we firm it up with some additional wood, but I assume it’s okay to put hardware cloth on the bottom of floor of the coop? Don’t want to hurt my hen’s feet but want to keep predators out if we can. What about a motion sensor light around to coop? Does that deter predators?

    • I suppose hardware cloth on the floor is ok if you keep a thick layer of litter over it. Not only for the hens’ feet, but also because moisture from poop in contact with it will eventually cause it to rust and decompose.I think a motion sensor light might work for some predators, especially the more wary species, like bobcat, but I doubt it will work for raccoons and opossums, species that live close to humans and adapt quickly to our noises and lights.

  33. Ty for all this information. I am getting8, 1yr old chickens and 1 rooster this weekend. I’ve never had chickens before. We’re excited and nervous st the same time

  34. Last fall just before sunset we lost our little flock to coyotes! Please if you can not afford to purchase the supplies you need to keep your chickens safe don’t get them! We have spent over (way over) $2000 purchasing timber, wire, cinder blocks, stone etc…! It is not cheap to keep them safe by any means. Once you spend the money doing it right the first time you are home safe and sound for the future with little worries. My chicks are still in the garage waiting to go into their new home when temps are above 50*. I pray to God that I have done this right because I certainly could not go through that heartache again!

  35. KERRY- Please do your homework and read as much as you can..I hope you have everything ready for their arrival. Please if you have never had chickens before read up on as much as you can. HOUSING, FEED, DISEASE, SAFETY-PREDATORS,HOT WEATHER-HEAT STROKE,COLD WEATHER-KEEPING THEM WARM AND OUT OF DRAFTS, ETC….
    I put a fan in my coop in the summer to keep the air moving and keep it cool. In winter they have a heat lamp even if they don’t need it its there for them in the corner. Also heated water containers, food bins
    perches many things to think about. I grew up with chickens, though I knew it all..I WAS SO WRONG!! Its your responsibility to keep them safe and clean, their lives depend on it!

  36. I have been raising chickens for 35 years and it’s sad they are at the bottom of the food chain and everything wants to eat them, from your neighbors dog to coons and possums to hawks owls eagle’s,even my own German Shepherd got ahold of two of my silkies, the neighbor kids left out of its cage after playing with them and the dog thought the birds was squeaky toys.
    Then just when I thought I was in the clear I had a ermine wipe most of my flock out last winter one by one.
    I did get the little weasel and I was so mad, I killed him and taxidermy him and he sits on top of a picture in my living room.
    I thought my chicken coupe was safe but I found a one in a half inch gap between the bottom of my door that weasel was getting in. Once a weasel is in your coupe it’s instinct is to kill what moves. Such a cute but ferocious critter.
    I raise peacocks and ornamental chickens and have been rebuilding new pens with half inch hardware all around, burying it in the ground and filling the trench with stone spending way more than I anticipated on but hey its a hobby and I love the birds.
    People don’t feel to bad if something gets your chickens learn from it and learn from other peoples posts and just be glad your knot a chicken.

  37. We woke this morning to one of our chickens missing. There were feathers and blood left behind but no idea what took it. We have a large coop for them to get into but the fenced in area is wide open. There is 5 foot fence all around with chicken wire buried to stop digging. The area where we have them use to be my garden so I was glad we were using it again. We are new to having chickens and not sure what it could be. There are all kinds of things around. Skunks,racoons, woodchucks,I am sure there are foxes and I have seen coyotes and hawks.

  38. What to put on top of outdoor run in snow country? I’m thinking snow will build up on top of half inch material..We also have bears but electric fencing we think will handle them..

    • We are 1st time chicken owners and have built a coop with the specs you mentioned: elevated hen houses, roof (clear corrugated plastic), 1/2 inch hardware cloth all around and buried 18 inches in the ground, and a combination lock on the door we use to enter (I’ll change it to a padlock). The chickens are about 3 1/2 months old, we raised them from day old chicks, and we were free ranging them during the day. On Thursday afternoon something attacked the flock and I found one chicken dead and 6 missing. The other 7 are alive though one is injured and recovering. On Saturday we replaced the other 7 with two 5 month old hens and five 2 month old chicks. We placed the young birds in a former rabbit cage (which is a repurposed dog cage) inside the coop thinking they were safe from predators as well as the older chickens. Saturday night raccoons bent back some of the hardware cloth near the roof on the back of the coop and ate all five chicks (I found the remains in the morning). My husband has fixed all the weak spots but these two losses have been devastating, especially to my granddaughter who loves the chickens. I understand predation and respect the predators, I just don’t want them getting MY chickens. Thank you for the information you have provided and we may change the latches on the hen house doors (they are simple slide bolts that I think a raccoon may be able to open if they can get into the coop).

  39. OK, So we have a small shed that has become the chicken coop since the bears shredded our cute chicken coop. The bear came back to see if he could open the door on the shed (scratch signs on the door). I had ordered pure habanero oil to put on certain items that my maturing puppies were always chewing. It stopped the dogs. I decided to take a chance on this working on the door for the bear. I lined the door edge with a nice thick layer of habanero oil. The bear came only once and never again. This oil hurts your skin if you get any fume on your skin. It is very potent, but really works. I, of course am not going to depend on only this, but it really did help.

  40. I would bury 2 ft of fencing and place large paving slabs all the way around the perimeter of the run, and would cover the top with fencing too – would that be sufficient to stop mongooses, weasels and foxes? We have no wolves or bears this far South. Would I be ok with chicken wire (the stuff used on rabbit hutches) or should I go for more sturdy fencing? Perhaps chainlink?

    I’m not particularly worried about people stealing my chickens, the area is quite out of the way so doubtful anyone would drive out that far just to steal a few hens. They’re very cheap to replace here also so it wouldn’t be a huge loss.

    I’m not sure about a guardian breed of dog – I’d be worried the dog might bite visitors or hurt my cats. I’ve only kept medium sized herding type dogs before (and my GSD mix is very intolerant of strangers already), not used to raising and training livestock guardian type dogs. My border collie would have protected the chickens just fine on his own from small predators (without harming them) but my GSD mix looks like she wants to eat chickens so don’t think she’ll be allowed anywhere near them… lol

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