Whether you free range your birds or pasture raise like we do, predators are out there and with our tips below you can keep your hens protected all year long.
When we lived in the city across from Walmart we had six hens in a chicken coop that is two stories and the bottom was tight but they could scratch the dirt. Now out here in the country we have over 20 chickens who freely roam our acreage sun up to sun down.
We chose to pasture range our birds for a few reasons, but one I love is seeing the birds roaming the yard enjoying life. The second biggest reason is we spend a lot less on feed. You can read more about why we pasture raise here.
It’s been three years out here in the country now and we only lost chickens our very first year to a fox during the day.
Here are 10 Ways You Can Keep Your Hens Protected if You Choose to Free Range
Get a Rooster.
There is no denying a rooster lives up to his duty! So many times our Rooster has told all the girls a sky predator is lurking, they run under my husband’s work van or the porch and he is the only one out- defending his ladies.
The Rooster will allow all the hens to eat the treat he has found before he takes a peck! Well, I suppose he makes up for it by mounting who ever when ever right?
Have a place for your flock to hide
It is so important to have a place for your birds to be able to hide. A big Raspberry bush, trees, cars, porches. It all helps when a hawk is roaming the sky. This is a life saver when it comes to keeping our chickens safe. They are able to scatter quickly in multiple places while having a safe place to hide.
Related: How to Raise Chickens Like a Champ
Have your flock securely locked up at night.
If you pasture raise them they will instinctively go back to the coop at night. I loved this when we started with our six hens because I had no idea they did this. Sometimes I think chickens are smarter than others give credit for. I mean they do actually come when you call them.
Lock your chickens up as soon as the sun sets.
I have found as the weather changes the sun starts to set and predators are out lurking. I think spring and fall around our homestead are the busiest times when I’m keeping an ear out for serious sqwuaking in the coop. We had our raccoon attack in October because we lost track of time and didn’t close the coop door right away. You can read the story here.
Use Guard Dogs
When we first got a new flock of chickens and had a whopping 13 roosters roaming around our German Shepard lab- gave a friendly snip to the Roosters who were going crazy on our first flock of chickens. I keep our dog out to help keep predators away- and keep the peace 😉
If you can bury the chicken wire under the ground
We did this with my garden to keep pests out and it works just as well with your chicken coop.
Always be looking for holes or loose wire/boards
Every month do a once over in your chicken coop and keep things closed up tightly. This will help keep your chickens protected from predators and warmer in the winter.
Related: How To Keep Your Chickens Warm For Cheap
Keep any cat food away from the coop
Cat food will draw in predators- especially those raccoons! I was tempted to feed the barn cats in the barn as the chickens. Once I stopped doing this we saw fewer opossums and other predators in there.
Keep up with collecting eggs
Eggs left out can attract predators as well. I also find with our chickens one will be the eater if we don’t scoop them up soon.
Be ready to defend your chickens if you find a predator in or near your coop
I always seem to grab our ancient pitch fork, every time I peek in the coop throughout the day. 🙂 Here my husband is the one who can quickly grab the gun. I on the other hand, well not so much. I am confident our German Shepard dog would go after a fox or raccoon, so my plan is to send him out if things get heated!
I hope these tips will help you when it comes to keeping an eye on your chickens. It truly is an awesome thing if you are able to free range them. If you can’t and still have chickens that is an awesome thing too. Being able to eat fresh eggs daily is a pure joy.