Welcome back to part 2 of our free-ranging series. In this blog, we want to go over some of the basic protection methods for your free-ranging flock. We will discuss the day and nighttime prevention methods that we use here at FLYGRUBS HQ. Remember to identify the predators in your backyard and design your protection methods around preventing those specific rascals from hurting your flock.
Domestic dogs are probably the biggest fan of daytime attacks, but mink, foxes and weasels aren’t scared of attempting daytime hist. Aerial attacks often come from falcons, hawks, and owls. Raccoons, opossums, and skunks love to attempt their attacks at night. The blow tips are where you should start building your protection checklist to reduce/prevent predation.
Train your girls to come back into the coop at night. You can accomplish this by raising young chicks inside the coop to get them familiar with their safe area. As long as the coop is vermin free you should be all set. Just double-check to be 110% sure it’s closed up at night.
When you build your chicken run, you must take the time to make sure it’s parameters are secure. Welded wire mesh with small holes (1 x 2 inch) is what we use to keep our flock in and predators out. Taller is typically better just to make sure you can keep out predators that have up to a 4 foot vertical (coyotes and bobcats).
What about aerial predators like owls, hawks, and falcons? The best way to keep these predators out is to use poultry netting or game bird netting to discourage those animals from attacking the flock.
What about predators that dig under the mesh? We suggest installing the wire mesh up to a foot under the ground depending on how aggressive those predators can be. If you don’t want to go through the trouble to dig underground, you can also place chicken wire around the outside of the chicken run so that when the intruders start to dig they will feel the wire and be dissuaded from continuing to dig.
Motion sensor lights can be another great prevention method for all nocturnal predators. Once they step foot into the chicken's living area it will be flooded with light and spook any invader from continuing to hunt. For example, white birds tend to stand out more than birds of a different color. The wary, high strung, excitable, so-called flighty breeds like the Leghorn and Lakenvelder are more likely to react faster to intruders then more docile breeds.
Well, that is all for now. Please share your ideas in the comments below.
All the best,