Late last night we had a predator visit our yard. Not sure what it was, we never got a good look at it before the dogs chased it off (the Norwegian Buhund is a great protector of the farm and you can reserve your puppy now from our litter expected July 2013) but whatever it was, it had the chickens making such a racket!
Over the warmer months, we do not lock our chickens up in their coop at night due to the heat. The chicken coop is inside the chicken run. In the 2 years we’ve been raising chickens we have not lost a single one to a predator! Our secret…..a chicken run that’s built like Fort Knox! No one is getting in! Here we have to worry about raccoons, opossums, hawks and skunks, but there’s also fox and coyote which are a little rarer but around nonetheless. Our chicken run is also inside our fenced in yard.
The chicken’s run is a large chain link dog kennel. Chain link is not sufficient itself in keeping your chickens safe from predators. Raccoons and opossums especially, can reach thru and pull them out! It doesn’t seem possible but believe me when I say it is! The bottom 3 feet of the run is also wrapped with chicken wire on the inside! You do not want it on the outside because chicken wire is also not a sufficient aid in protection. Many predators can either chew right thru it or pull it down/off. Then we used hardware cloth which is much stronger than chicken wire to create a “roof” on the top of the run. This prevents anything from flying or climbing in and we make sure our roosts are low enough to be out of reach from would be “grabbers” from above. Now for the issue of diggers from underneath. We again used hardware cloth and anchored it flat on the ground 3 feet out from the bottom of the run on the outside. Then we put large patio blocks on top of that all the way around the run. Our ground was too hard to bury it so that’s why we laid it flat. It didn’t take long for it to disappear under the soil and grass.
If you live in a more rural area then southeast MI you may have to tweak this a bit depending on what predators you have to worry about. I will tell you that this is no challenge for larger more dangerous animals such as bear or mountain lions, but it has worked great for us!