Predators are a top concern for any chicken keeper. Predators can pose a threat to your coop day and night comment where you live (urban, suburban or rural). Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent these foes from attacking your precious flock.
Tired of those pesky predators and pests? Read on for some excellent solutions to prevent your chickens from getting hurt.
Australian Chicken Coop Predators From The Wild
There are a few predators in Australia that you should be aware of if you have chickens or are thinking of getting a flock. These are:
Foxes are an introduced pest with no native predators. They’re becoming more and more of an issue for all Australian chicken keepers. They even pose a threat in urban areas believe it or not!
Most species of snakes are attracted to chickens because of two things: vermin and eggs. Snakes will rarely eat a chicken, but a big snake like a python might try if it’s very hungry! To keep snakes at bay, it is best to rid your coop of vermin and regularly collect eggs so that there is no food for the snakes to be attracted to.
Goannas are large monitor lizards that will invade your unsecure coop for some delicious fresh eggs and rats, mice and other vermin that are attracted to the chicken feed. Just like with snakes, cutting off their food supply is the best way to get rid of these creatures!
Rats and mice aren’t just nasty pests that eat your chicken eggs and feed, they also attract bigger predators like snakes and goannas. Vermin also stress your flock, so it is best to get secure vermin-proof feeders and collect eggs regularly to keep these nasty creatures away. You can also secure your coop with bird mesh and other materials to keep them out of the coop.
- Tasmanian devils and quolls
There are four known species of quolls in Australia, they are all endangered. If you spot any of these rare, but serious predators around your coop, it is best to contact your local or state wildlife preservation society to come and remove the threat without hurting the animal.
Tasmanian devils are another endangered predator that may stalk your chickens, but only if you live in Tasmania. Do the same as for quolls if you spot one in your backyard. The animal will be removed and relocated safely.
Hawks, falcons and other birds of prey are aerial predators you should be aware of. Most species are protected in Australia and thus shouldn’t be injured. They can often be seen circling above any potential meal, just waiting for the right opportunity to attack. To keep these away from your flock, simply install a mesh cover or other type of roof.
Domestic Chicken Coop Predators
Stray dogs or any dogs from your neighbourhood may not be so friendly towards your chickens when they meet them. Chickens are prey animals and act like it too. They can easily trigger hunting instincts in dogs that haven’t been raised with or desensitised to chickens. This unfortunately may lead to some dead chickens if you cannot keep stray or roaming dogs out of your coop and backyard.
Cats are predators no matter if they are stray or beloved lap cats. Cats see chickens and chicks as an easy meal. Due to their agility and excellent hunting instincts, your chickens may not even know the cat is there before it’s too late! Cats can easily get over standard fences so you might have to install an electric poultry fence or a closed run to keep your flock safe. Cats raised with your flock should pose less of a risk and keep the vermin away, but there is always a chance that a baby chicken might get eaten.
Chicken Coop Predator Prevention Methods
The first step in predator prevention is to find out what attracts these predators to your coop. The most common reasons for predators being drawn to your coop is:
- Easy access to your chickens for a quick snack
- Easy access to any fresh eggs
- Lots of vermin around or in your coop
- Easy access to chicken feed
Now that you know that the main concern is the ease of access, let’s look at some ways to make access more difficult to keep your hens alive and healthy.
Dogs, when raised with your flock, make excellent coop companions. Dogs breeds like Maremmas or great Pyrenees will proudly and ferociously defend your flock from any predators. Your dog doesn’t have to be a fancy breed to protect your flock. Just make sure your dog is properly introduced to your hens and happy to live with them and you will have yourself a nice chicken protector on hand.
Make sure your coop is burrow proof by hanging a secure mesh floor. Alternatively, you can make sure your coop has a strong concrete, brick and wire foundation to prevent predators like foxes from digging under the fence.
- Install strong gauge, small space mesh on all entry points
To keep nasty critters out, make sure that you have strong gauge galvanised mesh with holes no larger than 10x10mm installed on all entry points into your coop and run. This includes ventilation points, windows and wire for the chicken run. This will keep out rates, snakes and any other pests trying to gain entry to attack your chickens.
Electric fencing is the ultimate protection against predators. It can be moved around to protect your flock wherever they are. It will deliver a small shock that will scare predators away without seriously hurting them.
- Sensor lights and fox lights
These are excellent at deterring nocturnal predators. Their hunting strategy is to remain undetected so a sudden bright light will spook them and make them flee for the cover of darkness. Strategically placing sensor lights around your coop and run will act as an excellent detergent for nocturnal predators. Fox lights mimic animal eyes and thus will keep an ‘intruder’ fox at bay by playing on its territorial instincts.
Securing your feed means no vermin will be running around cleaning out your food supply without your consent. No vermin automatically means less big predators that rely on them as a food source. An automatic chicken feeder is the best way to reduce feed spillage inside the coop that can attract pests like rats and mice. For stored feed, you can use drums to keep pests out.
Some plants are great for repelling insects, but did you know that certain plants can also repel vermin. Plants like mint, lemon balm, catnip and lavender around your coop should help to deter pests like rats and mice. You can also take it a step further and hand bunches of fresh herbs in your coop and from the roof in your chicken run.
Roosters are naturally programmed to protect their hens from any danger. Having a rooster in your flock will ensure that both you and your hens are warned of any approaching danger. It will give you some time to act and deter the predator before it’s too late.
- Scare owls and scare tape
Birds of prey such as raptors, ravens magpies and butcherbirds are naturally cautious when there is an owl around. Having a scare owl on your coop roof will help deter these predators. Make sure to reposition your scare owl every few days so predators don’t realise its a fake. Scare tape is a type of tape that confuses birds by reflecting light haphazardly. You can get the same effect by hanging CDs around your coop
A secure chicken run protects your flock from both aerial and terrestrial predators. It also keeps your flock in and stops their curiosity getting them in trouble. Make sure the chook mesh you use has holes no bigger than 10x10mm to keep your chooks as safe as possible. Adding a mesh floor or a perimeter foundation of concrete will also help deter burrowing predators.
- Secure your backyard fence
Securing your backyard fence will help to keep out stray and wandering dogs and cats from your yard. If they don’t know your chickens exist, they won’t become a problem. Cats are excellent climbers so make sure your fence is cat-proof.
There are many unconventional chicken predator prevention methods out there that you can try. We cannot guarantee that any will work, but they’re worth a shot if you have the time to experiment. You can do things like leaving a radio on a talk radio station inside your coop to deter predators like foxes. Smelly, worn men’s clothes will also help by leaving your human smell around the coop.
As you can see, there are many chicken predators, but there are even more ways to secure your coop and keep them out. All it takes is a little effort from your side and your flock will be 100% safe! Looking at all these methods might seem overwhelming, so pick a top 3 for yourself and try them out, you can always try the rest later.