Predator Problems — Again!


Jennifer QuinnRaccoon

Photo by Fotolia/geoffkuchera

Last summer I wrote about losing my entire chicken flock to a predator — apparently a raccoon that got into the coop, eventually with her young to carry out the final mass killing. After each loss I would discover another way the marauders could get in, and would make adjustments, finally reinforcing the rat wire over one window that had been pushed in. After I raised another small flock I had no further problems, until this year.

I’ve discovered two major disadvantages to having free-ranging chickens and not having a secure run to keep them in at times. One: I can’t go anywhere in the evenings from about April through October, because I have to be home before dusk to shut the birds up. Two: I can’t leave at the crack of dawn (or earlier) to go on a trip, as I’ve often done in the past. That is, unless I want to keep the birds cooped up all day, which I think would be inhumane and unsanitary.

Now the Icelandic chickens have always been good about getting up on the roost well before dark. The Buckeyes and the guinea fowl, on the other hand, will keep me waiting till the last minute, maddeningly poking around outside the coop, creeping up to the door only to be distracted and wander off again. Feeding them in the coop in the evening doesn’t work, since some will come in and eat, then run out again while I’m still waiting for the others.

I had gotten tired standing around fifteen or twenty minutes waiting for the birds to come in. So some evenings I would wait almost until dusk to go to the coop, knowing that most of the birds would be up already, and the others would shortly come in. One evening when I did this I noticed that one of the hens was missing. This surprised me, since I haven’t had any trouble with daytime predators, and I wondered if a hawk had gotten her.

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