Our predator proofing of our chicken run was put to the test last night. We had a family of raccoons pay us a visit, a Mom and four cute little babies. As you know raccoons are very dangerous to chickens, they would love to have a nice chicken dinner, so it’s very important to take some drastic, yes, I said drastic, measures when building your chicken coop and run. Raccoons are very smart so you have to stay 1 step ahead of them.
Here’s what we’ve done with ours:
Make sure your coop windows are secure, a raccoon can easily tear through screen, so use heavy hardware cloth instead. Also if your coop door is close to the ground, use 2 locks to secure it at night and make sure to have locks on your nest boxes too. A raccoon can figure out hook and eye type locks so use something more complicated. We use the hook and eye type that have the spring mechanism, they can be difficult for even myself to open.
To predator proof your run, you can do a couple different things. The ground here is really hard and our run is big so burying hardware cloth was way too much work. Instead, I laid 3 feet of heavy welded wire flat on the ground and anchored it to the ground with landscape ties and to the frame of the run with zip ties. After just a couple months the grass comes up through it and the roots help keep it anchored to the ground. I can’t even see it now. A raccoon would have to tunnel 3 feet to get in the run, a raccoon doesn’t want to work that hard to get in. You could do the same thing on the inside of the run for even better added protection. I also run heavy welded wire to the top of our run so nothing can climb in. People who have seen our run, says it’s like Fort Knox. Our run is a large chain link dog kennel, so I also run chicken wire 3 feet high around the inside of the run.
It gets really hot here in the summers and once that heat hits, I don’t lock the girls up in their coop at night, I leave them out in their run. I can honestly tell you that I’ve never had anything other than a mouse or an occasional rat get into the run and I’ve never lost a single chicken to a predator.
Taking drastic measures predator proofing is the probably the best thing you can do for your chickens. Secure chickens are happy chickens and happy chickens=good egg laying.