When it is a skunk problem you will find the birds laying dead with their throat or belly cut. Skunks are kind of like the vampires of the predators. They like to eat the blood and entrails of the birds. My first bantam chickens fell to this predator. I have also lost eggs to this predator. They love to eat the eggs. Skunks hunt at night unless rabid.
Red Dog eating an egg when I was headed out to get the bucket of eggs that I had forgotten. He ran to try and beat me to the bucket and snatched another.( Bad dog!!!) Thankfully he doesn't eat chickens...(at least not live ones) he likes to help me round them up instead.
Bobcats, coyotes and foxes, on the other hand, swipe the chickens. You may just find some feathers and a missing chicken but sometimes they will kill several and and carry them off 1 by 1 to bury for later. This can happen over a period of several nights as well. Once on a night check of my chickens, I found a mama bobcat and her cub having their hunt in my chicken pen. They escaped and I found a place where the pen had a gap that they had pushed down and wiggled through. These critters usually hunt in early mornings, evenings and sometimes at night. but I have found Bobcat in my yard on dreary gray days too. Foxes will rarely enter coops but it is not an impossibility, coyotes on the other hand will try if given a chance and they will all definitely snatch a free range snack when possible.
|A view of the back of some of my pens|
Raccoons usually only hunt at night (unless rabid) and they will take their food to a water source to eat. If they snatch an entire bird then you may find the body where ever they drug it to. You may find one or more dead birds missing some parts. Raccoons have been known to reach into the fence, catch a chicken and take it one piece at a time right through the fence. I can tell when a raccoon has been visiting because I will catch them at night or I will find their telltale paw prints in the bottom of a nearly empty water dish that had been full the day before. Raccoons will also steal eggs.
|Silly chickens get their water dirty...thinking of trying a new watering method|
Grit. They give a few other details that I didn't know about and you will also find many tips to protect your poultry as well.
I also use a plastic fencing like material. This is heavier than the previous net but not as pliable.
Wire fencing is another way to protect your chickens. On these pens it is used on the sides and on top. The edges are clipped together with aluminum wire and hog rings.
|A shot of the cement footer under some of my pens. It extends to both sides of the pens.|
I have also had the best results with my pens that have a cement footer under the fence to discourage digging and a smaller wire fencing material at the bottom of the other fencing. This helps protect from paws reaching in after my chickens. I have learned that it is important to make sure all gaps and loose spots are wired together or clamped together with hog rings or heavy plastic zip ties. Those predators can be wily critters so you have to stay one step ahead of them. I make sure to only let my chickens out to free range on sunny days and I definitely put them up at night. My other security measure that has helped immensely, is Red Dog. He takes security around the place very seriously and is very vigilant to chase off anything that doesn't belong along with a few kitties who do belong (naughty dog!) I hope this helps you if you decide to give chicken keeping a try. Maybe some of my mistakes can help you avoid some of the pitfalls.
Until Next Time