Predator Proofing Your Chicken Run and Coop

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.

Great Alpaca Info.


Meningeal worm is a parasite that affects alpacas. Read the questions and answers below to become informed about this parasite.

What is meningeal worm?

A parasite whose natural host is the white-tailed deer.

How does my alpaca get m. worm?

First, you must reside in an area where white-tailed deer exist. Eggs hatch in a deers lungs. The larvae are coughed up and swallowed by the deer. The larvae are then passed to the feces and excreted onto the ground. The larvae find an intermediate host in snails and slugs. Your alpaca ingests the infected snail or slug. Once the larvae are in the stomach, they penetrate the stomach wall and enter spinal nerves. Then they travel to the spinal cord or brain.

What are the symptoms of meningeal worm infection?

Some of the symptoms seen might be: Rear leg weakness, lameness, uncoordinated gate, stiffness, paraplegia, paralysis, circling, abnormal head tilt, blindness, gradual weight loss, inability to eat.

Can m. worm kill my alpaca?

Yes. Damage to the central nervous system can be severe enough to cause death.

How is the parasite detected?

There is no definitive way to detect it in a live animal. Symptoms and lab values are used to diagnose m. worm.

How is m. worm treated once an alpaca is infected?

Usually, some type of dewormer is used to kill the parasite. Steroids and anti-inflammatories are used to prevent inflammation and swelling from damaging the spinal cord. Supportive care is, also, used in the form of physical therapy. Keeping blood flow to muscles by massaging helps keep them healthy and allows the animal to recover better.

Will my alpaca recover completely?

Depends on how much damage was done. Once the larvae migrate into the nervous tissue, any damage that occurs is usually irreversible.

Can an infected alpaca pass the meningeal worm to other alpacas?

Your alpaca must ingest an infected snail or slug to get m. worm. Alpacas are considered a dead-end host. The larvae in alpacas do not mature and produce eggs that mature into larvae that pass out of the animal. They stay in the central nervous system.

How do I prevent meningeal worm in my alpacas?

Prevention is the key. The current practice has been to give a dose of Ivermectin every 30 days to alpacas in areas with white-tailed deer. However, overuse of Ivermectin has resulted in increasing drug resistance among parasites in alpacas. Work with your vet. Your worming program should be tailored to your individual farm and geographic area. You can put up a deer-proof fence with a gravel or paved area along the outside of the fence to attempt to keep snails and slugs out of your pastures. This is expensive. You can use a molluscicide, but it might be poisonous to your alpacas, so be careful.

Your vet will have up-to-date information to prevent meningeal worm infections.

One other method of prevention is to keep Guinea Keets free-ranging in your pastures.  They are fabulous bug eaters and they’ll eat the snails/slugs that could infect your alpacas.



It’s time for a quick GIVEAWAY!  

All you have to do is guess what my favorite breed of chicken is by leaving a comment.  Hint: I may or may not have this breed.

Winner will be randomly chosen from all correct guesses and announced tomorrow morning.  You have until midnight tonight (EST) to get your guess in.  1 guess per person, make sure to include your name and your email so we can easily notify you if you’re our winner.

And….just to make it a little more fun, we are going to keep the prize a secret!!!!  Hint: it’s something that is both simple and cute!

Good luck everyone!!!!

Ways to Recycle Wood Pallets

So there’s been a lot of talk these days about recycled wood pallets and how you can use them in and around your home.  I wanted to share with you a couple ways we have recycled wood pallets.

I have made a raised garden for my strawberries using a wood pallet.  I simply stapled burlap (you can also use landscape cloth) to one side and around the edges to hold the dirt in.  Then I flipped it over and filled it with dirt and planted my strawberry plants.  (I’m hoping that this will help contain the very invasive strawberry plants.)

We also used a wood pallet to make garden stakes to hold up the welded wire fence around the garden.  My hubby simply took a pallet apart and made stakes using a table saw.

There are so many uses for old wood pallets.  If you’ve recycled wood pallets, please leave us a comment on how you used them and share a picture too.

Recycled Wood Pallet Garden Stakes for FenceRecycled Wood Pallet Strawberry Garden