20 Tips For Keeping Chickens Safe From Predators
Learn how to keep your chickens safe from predators, even if you free range!
Chickens are a blast to own, and they're fairly easy to take care of. However, one of the most commonly asked questions regarding raising chickens, is how to keep them safe from predators.
Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question. It takes the combination of various methods to ensure your chickens stay safe.
Besides, your success is dependent upon your specific situation, from the wildlife in your area, to your budget.
In this article I'll cover the top 20 ways to keep your chickens safe from predators, even if you free range!
20 Tips For Keeping Chickens Safe From Predators
1. Install Proper Fencing
Fencing is the number one way to keep your chickens safe from predators. Unfortunately, attacks can still occur, especially if food is scarce in your area.
However, your chickens are far less likely to face an attack if the predator animal thinks it will be too difficult to escape afterward.
An enclosed run is preferred by many chicken owners. If you like letting your chickens free range, you can still let them out for a bit during the day.
Surprisingly, chicken wire won't cut it when it comes to predator protection. Instead, opt for some metal hardware cloth.
Fresh Eggs Daily has a wonderful post that outlines all of the specifications of different chicken fencing options.
2. Build Safety Shelters
Safety shelters are places for your chickens to run and hide from predators. These work best for defense against hawks, owls, and other flying predators.
For more information on safety shelters, and other ways to protect your backyard chickens from hawks, CLICK HERE.
3. Spray Expel Natural Animal Repellent
Expel Natural Animal Repellent Spray is great for keeping away a variety of predator and pest animals that can pose a threat to your chickens.
It's non-toxic and made out of all natural ingredients that irritate animal's sense of taste and smell without harming them, your chickens, kids, or plants.
You can spray it anywhere you want to repel predators and pest animals. I recommend spraying it around the chicken coop and along your fence line.
4. Keep The Chicken Feeder In Their Coop
Chickens are vulnerable while eating, so it's best to keep their feeders in the coop, or under a shelter at the very least.
This cuts down on the risk of a predator attacking while their guard is down.
5. Don't Leave Scraps or Feed Out
Scraps, livestock feed, and pet food all attract pest animals and hungry predators. Make sure you keep all feed in an airtight container and pick up any scraps that the chickens didn't eat.
6. Hang Reflective Scare Tape
When predators (especially hawks) think an area is too complicated or hard to escape from after catching their prey, they often will continue their search elsewhere.
Our Reflective Scare Tape shimmers in the light and makes a metallic noise as it flaps in the wind, scaring off hawks and other daytime predators. Because the animals are unsure of what they're looking at, they'll typically fly away in search of easier prey.
You can hang strips of the tape from stakes, rafters, plants, or any other area with access to wind and sunlight.
7. Keep Your Yard Clean
Keeping your yard clean and tidy is a smart practice for a variety of reasons. Trash, brush, and random debris all attract wild animals to your property.
The less enticing your yard seems to the wildlife in your area, the safer your chickens will be.
8. Get A Rooster
Roosters are fierce protectors of their hens, making them a great option for protection. Of course, adding a rooster to your flock shouldn't be your only form of defense. Still, it's worth consideration.
If you've never been chased or attacked by a rooster, just know it's not fun. They grow spurs on the back of their legs, which they use to puncture anyone they feel threatened by - including predators.
Don't forget to check your city ordinances to see if roosters are allowed in your area.
9. Lock Your Chickens Up At Night
Make it a point to lock your chickens up every night. You can easily teach your chickens to 'go home' at dusk, making your job a lot easier.
After you've done a head count, lock the doors and don't allow them access to the run until the morning - even if it's enclosed.
There are many nocturnal predators that will jump on the chance to claw their way to your chickens, and you won't be awake to handle the situation.
10. Make Sure The Coop Is Secure
If predators in your area are persistent, you may need to go above and beyond simply locking your chickens in their coop at night.
Consider burying chicken wire or hardware cloth about six inches into the ground and covering all windows and openings. Check for any weak spots or small openings as well. You'd be surprised what a mink or weasel can fit through!
11. Put A Noise Machine or Radio Outside
Unfamiliar noises can startle predator animals, sending them running. You can set out a radio at night, even if it's just on a station with static. Alternatively, you can use a sound machine and sometimes even a wind chime.
However, you'll need to switch the noises up frequently to keep the wildlife on their toes.
12. Collect Eggs Daily
I know, I know. Why wouldn't you, right? I don't know about you, but collecting eggs is the highlight of my day. Still, some days it's easy to forget.
Collecting your eggs daily cuts down on the risk of other animals finding them first.
It's a major attractant, especially for snakes and weasels. And trust me, you don't want either of those animals to be attracted to your coop.
13. Make A Scarecrow
You might also consider setting up a scarecrow or decoy to scare off predators and protect your chickens.
From afar, wild animals will not be able to tell what they're looking at. They'll assume there's a human standing guard and will be too afraid to pursue your chickens.
The most important thing to remember when building a scarecrow is that you should be able to easily move it. Once a decoy has been in one area for a while, the predators start to catch on, and it loses its effectiveness. You'll need to move it around every so often.
Some people set up fake owls around their coop as well.
14. Install Solar LED Deterrent Lights
Our Solar LED Deterrent Lights keep nighttime predators away from your coop or any other area you install them.
The dual LED lights trigger the flight-response in wild animals, as they perceive them to be two glowing eyes looking back at them.
To Read More About How They Work, CLICK HERE.
15. Try Natural Homemade Repellents
Natural homemade repellents can work well to keep animals away temporarily, but you certainly don't want it to be your main form of defense. Besides, some wild animals aren't deterred by the strong smells anyway.
Still, it's worth mentioning because you can add it to your list of repellent methods to cycle through. They typically work more for raccoons, rats, mice, minks, and other small mammals.
For more information on the pro's and con's of homemade repellents, CLICK HERE.
16. Get A Dog
There's a reason most homesteaders and farmers have guard dogs for their livestock. Because it works!
Predator animals don't want to mess with chickens that have a big, growling body guard around 24/7. More often than not, it's not worth the risk to them, and they'll move along in search of an easier opportunity.
17. Install Motion Activated Sprinklers
Motion activated sprinklers are great for scaring off predators, especially at night when you're less likely to catch one on your property.
The sudden spritz of rain will send them running for the hills!
18. Separate Sick or Injured Chickens
Separating sick or injured chickens is important, not only because it allows them to heal in a safe environment, but because it cuts down on the risk of them being snatched by a hungry predator.
Allowing weak or ill chickens to free range is like putting them on a platter with a big arrow pointing to them that says, "Come eat me, I'm an easy meal".
Predators will be able to tell they have an easy snack from a mile away, and they'll pounce on the opportunity to take advantage of that.
19. Add Guinea Fowl To Your Flock
Guinea Fowl don't necessarily protect chickens from predators, but they'll sure let you know when there's one nearby!
Adding guinea fowl to your flock might not be possible, especially if you have nearby neighbors. However, if you can afford a few more mouths to feed, and your neighbors don't mind, consider getting some.
Never again will one of your chickens go missing without a peep.
20. Paint Eyes on The Top of Your Coop
Painting eyes on the top or side of your coop can confuse and scare predators away. This has been recommended in quite a few online forums for chicken owners, with varying success rates.
As with any other form of defense against predators, nothing is guaranteed to work unless you cycle through different methods.
The behavioral patterns of animals differs from place to place. Besides, we often don't give animals enough credit. They're pretty savvy to our tricks, and they're willing to take risks when hungry.
What tricks do you have for keeping your chickens safe from predators? Let us know in the comments!
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