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Even though raising chickens takes a lot of effort, it is one of the most fulfilling activities to engage in. Backyard chickens will provide you with fresh eggs, pest control, fertilizers, composting opportunities, and entertainment.
In return, it is your job to protect your beloved chickens from various predators. Protecting your chickens can be difficult, as chickens are prey for many creatures - from owls and hawks to snakes and rats. Over the course of raising chickens, it is very likely that you might lose a bird to a predatory animal. However, keeping these tips in mind will greatly reduce the risk of predation, and help keep your flock safe and sound:
1. Train your chickens to return to the chicken house every evening, and make sure to always close it. According to Grit editorial director Hank Will, “If you raise your chicks in that coop, they will naturally return to lay eggs and roost at night after you let them range for the day.”
2. Keep the coop and run closed from the top as well. To do this, use welded wire, game-bird netting or even random crisscrossed wires. This will prevents predatory birds from attacking the chickens at night. If owls are a problem in your area, then make sure to close out the coop before nightfall, as owls prey in the evening too.
3. Consider electrified netting. Using chicken wire as a fencing mechanism may work to safeguard chickens against owls and hawks and also keep chickens inside, but it won’t help in keeping creatures like raccoons out. Raccoons can easily pick their way through chicken wire, so you should use something sturdier. Consider installing electrified netting to keep away land predators. There are several different options for electrified fencing that you could benefit from, depending on the predators in the area and the size of your coop.
4. Keep the coop raised at least one foot off the ground. This will discourage rats, snakes and skunks to take up residence beneath the coop, minimizing chances of stolen eggs and chicks.
5. Eliminate open food sources. Food, including chicken feed, attracts all sorts of pests. Once mealtimes are over, make sure to clean up any leftover feed. Another option is to use store shed separately in a shed or garage, Don’t leave it lying around unless completely necessary.
6. Introduce “guardian animals”. According the The Chicken Chick, certain animals acts as flock guardians. These include llamas, donkeys, geese and even roosters.
7. Prepare for the worst. Even if you implement all sorts of high end security, having an emergency plan in case you discover predation is always critical. Know the enemy, and potential ways to get rid of it in an unfortunate situation. Failure to do so might lead to the loss of your beloved chickens, in a situation where they could have been saved.
There are many new devices around the market that can aid in protecting chickens. From motion sensors to night-vision cameras, there are various gadgets that are at your disposal. However, unless your situation calls for it, there is no need to blow up your budget on these sorts of devices. Hopefully, these basic tips above will aid in protecting your chickens at a primary level, letting your mind rest in peace, and encouraging a happy, productive flock.
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