Make sure everything is secured as tightly as possible. Believe it or not, raccoons came in with a whopping total nearly one and a half times that of the runner-up, which was dogs. But they are not as suave in their approach, opting for a forced entry or tunneling under the coop, rather than climbing the fence (as a fox might do). Just don’t get sprayed! Here is an overview chart of the top threats to your coop. !, a podcast devoted to keeping chickens for fun and self-sufficiency. Backyard Chickens: Frequently Asked Questions. In my area, it’s not recommended to relocate wildlife because our local department of conservation is concerned about spreading diseases, creating problems for other chicken owners, and upsetting the established wildlife population. Of course, if you see raccoon tracks, which are bigger than opossum tracks, you’ll know your culprit that way too. 11 Chicken run A large and securely meshed chicken run not only protects your flock from aerial predators, but also gives them much needed safe foraging space outside of the coop. If you want more information about chicken predators and how to keep chickens safe, check out Predator Management for Small and Backyard Poultry Flocks. So, my advice is to check with your state about their recommendations regarding relocating chicken predators. Remember that in the case of birds like eagles, hawks, and owls, you cannot hunt them by law (at least in the U.S.). It’s just a fact of life. However, any poorly protected livestock, including chickens, can appear on the cougar’s menu. Thrive Market is membership site, and their products are anywhere from 15% to 20% cheaper than I’ve found elsewhere. For the chicken coops we built, we used tin for the roof, and chicken wire to cover the runout area. Creating a predator-proof chicken coop will keep the birds safe when roosting at night—adding a predator-proof chicken run will prevent daytime predators from attacking your chickens. Remember, though, no hunting allowed! Coyotes kill by going for the jugular with their teeth, and if possible, they take their prey away from the scene of the kill to eat. One of the first signs of an attack from a bird of prey is a scouting bird. Coyotes typically hunt at night but I’ve seen them and lost chickens to them during the day, so I think if they see an opportunity to get an easy meal, they will. Unlike some other predators, dogs might kill your entire flock because to them, it’s a game and they’re having a good time. It includes a pathway through the maze of chicken-related laws in each of the US States, and offers advice on keeping your birds healthy and protecting them from the claws and paws of those pesky predators! What happened was during the struggle, the possum began banging on a brooder that’s against the house. Horned owls and Barred owls hunt at night while the Northern Hawk owls hunt early morning and late afternoon. Now, this is just a gentle reminder that my course Feeding Your Hens Right comes out in January. FrugalChicken, LLC is not a licensed veterinary service. Minks will leave,”vampire marks”,on the neck,drinking the blood and leaving the body intact. Traps may be your best bet, as hunting is usually not an option on a smaller suburban or inner-city homestead. Chickens prefer to spend most of their time outdoors, so providing as much space as you can for the run is ideal. So, while a strategically placed poison can work as a temporary measure, you’ll want to make other long-term plans. I went out to feed my free range flock today (2 roosters, 7 hens), but the Alpha Rooster was missing. A lot of states have regulations surrounding shooting and relocating raccoon, so talk to your local wildlife authority before taking either of those actions. Hi, it might be skunks, the bites sound like skunks or possums, but not eating them is not usual. It’s all a little unclear and just about everything you hear about the breed and their origination will be mostly speculation. What you can do about it: Prevent them coming in the first place! You can attempt to trap a bobcat (although it’s difficult), or you can try using things like predator urine (including human urine!) So, I really don’t suggest hunting any hawks or eagles that attack your chickens. Regarding the Beyond Off Grid summit, if you’re referring to my course, yes, the link still applies for the next couple days. Some predators, such as dogs, may consider chickens a game or sport, something innate in their breed, preferring the act of chasing or catching a chicken to actually eating it. There’s specific recipes for homemade feed that can be tailored to your particular needs, and you’ll learn how to raise a happy, healthy flock of chickens. If you know a snake is poaching your eggs and/or chicks, though, make sure the base of your coop is fortified with very fine mesh, hardware cloth, etc. Some predators, like fisher cats, raccoons and snakes, can easily access your chickens through the larger links in the wiring. What you can do about it: If it is your own dog, observe the breed to determine if it is prone to guarding or hunting. Identifying Attacks from Birds of Prey. I looked around the yard and finally found him dead inside an open storage shed. So when it comes to your chickens, having raw, organic items on hand, such as honey, becomes extremely important if a chicken, or any animal really, and I personally source all of my raw organic honey from Thrive. or guard dogs to help deter them from your coop. Sure, they might grab a quick snack along the way, but a weasel, mink, opossum, raccoon, dog, or even a coyote can do far more damage than just a single kill. There, you’ll find all sorts of information to help you figure out which chicken predators around your coop. Still, having a pet protector around can help minimize the damage, even if they’re only on duty part of the time! Luckily, their tracks look a little different. As is the case with many of these smaller predators, you also have the option to try to trap the intruder. Raccoons top the list as one of the worst and most common chicken predators. It was like an animal vampire. As you can imagine, there are many animals that love to eat chickens. You should check with your local wildlife authority about whether you’re allowed to kill coyotes before shooting one, to be on the safe side, but you can always let a few rounds off which might scare them away. If you keep chickens for their eggs, and want to learn about how to best feed them so lay the most nourishing eggs possible, then you’ll want to check out my new course, Feeding Your Hens Right, which you can see at Migrations and expanding or decreasing populations can change these boundaries on a regular basis. How to Identify Chicken Predators: Birds of Prey More about Shelby DeVore Shelby is an agricultural enthusiast that shares her love of all things farming with her husband and two children on their small farm in West Tennessee. This makes them easy targets for anything as small as a rat or snake, to as large as a mountain lion or bear. One of the greatest challenges doesn’t come from the chickens themselves, but rather from their enemies. LIKE THIS PODCAST? But the truth is, there are some nasty predators out there that have some serious bloodlust issues, and once they start killing, they continue killing… for sport. Secure any openings in your coop, and consider setting a trap with bloody meat or fish. The Department of Natural Resources was able to trace the poison back to that chicken owner. With this in mind, could a skunk kill large ducks and/or my Alpha Rooster? That being said, you should know federal and state laws about killing wildlife. Raccoons are clever and have nimble hands that can fit into very small spaces, whether they need to yank open a window or grab a chicken by the throat. I have to simply better proof my coop from aerial chicken predators. What you can do about it: Keep your coop well-secured, using mesh, hardware cloth, and good bolts and locks. We strongly recommend completely pest-proofing your coop, whether you’re dealing with them yet or not. It isn’t difficult to build a chicken run or pen, but it is critical to not only keep your chickens safe from predators, but also to keep your lawn, garden and landscaping safe from your chickens, who take great delight in digging up small plants, munching on … However, if you are determined to free range, you can try hanging shiny things like CDs from trees, having a good rooster or Guinea fowl that can sense a hawk’s presence and alert the hens, or keeping a guard dog as a deterrent. However, you will want to be as cunning as the fox or they’ll sense the trap and avoid it. After all, it’s a dog-eat-dog — or perhaps we should say, dog-eat-chicken — world out there. What you can do about it: Of course, securing the roof of your coop and run are good first steps. My culprit might be skunks then. Evidenced by pale crop. While opossums will eat chickens where they’ve killed them, raccoon will sometimes eat them there, but they’ll also strew the bodies yards away from the kill site, so if you come across a number of dead chickens, and they’re all over the place, it’s more likely a raccoon than a opossum. Pampered Chicken Mama is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Your best bet is to consult with your state’s department of wildlife or conservation, and in the case of domestic dogs, consult an attorney familiar with animal law in your state. I’ve had possums get into my coop under a door that had an extra wide gap, so they can get through narrow spaces. Far and away the biggest chicken predators on our farm are possums, and just the other night we were woken up at midnight as a possum went after some of our chickens. Third and fourth places were hawk and fox, respectively. So, if you live in an area that deals with a particular predator, you may want to do some follow-up research to see how serious of a threat it is where you live. You can try to leash them near the coop to help them acclimate to the chickens as a part of their environment. Also, avoid free ranging chickens when hawks are a regular threat. Also, I found you through the Beyond off Grid & I am wondering if the link still applies? So first on our list of chicken predators are domestic dogs. You can grab it at Why Build a Chicken Run? Rather than attempting … Predators other than domestic dogs usually eat at least part of the chickens in my experience. The ancestry and original lineage of the Polish have always been a bit cloudy. Using 1” to ½” hardware cloth is best, and I like to staple the hardware cloth to wood on the top and bottom of the coop and run so the opossums can’t fit underneath. In fact, in the Mid-Atlantic, I know of cases where owners have shot domestic animals and did indeed face criminal gun charges. Raccoon are nocturnal, and the tell-tale signs of a raccoon killing a chicken is similar to opossums, but there are a couple key differences. Chickens that are allowed to run at will all day everyday tend to be more predator wary then the casual yard roamer. What you can do about it: Once again, protect your chickens from attacks from above. Raccoon like to rip or bite the head off of a chicken, leaving the head a distance away from the body and eat the breast and crop as well as the guts, leaving the rest behind. Predators prey upon chickens for many reasons, including for food, for survival, and to feed their young. Hi, yup, skunks are similar to opossums. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. What you can do about it: Again, things like open garbage or pet food can attract opossums initially. Also make sure your chicken feed is covered and your garbage is inaccessible, as these are often what attract a bear to a coop in the first place. While I’m sympathetic to wildlife, I also take raising my chickens seriously, so I try to do everything possible to keep them safe. Below the chart, we break down each predator, where they live, how they kill, and how you can prevent it from happening. If feeding your family the most nutritious food possible is important to you, then you’ll want to check out my course. No part of his body was eaten, but feathers were scattered in the immediate area around his body, and he appeared to have a bloody wound in the center of his back. Raccoons will eat the head off of your chicken and let the rest of the bird lay for other predators to eat. In this episode of What The Cluck?! Coyotes are third on our list of chicken predators, and if you don’t know what that is, a coyote is a species of canine that hunts in packs. They’re slightly larger than foxes. I’m Maat from FrugalChicken, and I’m sorry this episode is a bit late, I’ve been battling strep throat this week, and I wanted to spare you the pain of hearing my voice. Last year, I lost my favorite hen the same way – she had a deep bloody wound in the center of her back but no part of her was eaten. Unlike opossums, coyotes will take their prey away from where they killed it, so if you see a dead or disemboweled chicken, it’s not as likely to be a coyote. If the floor is just dirt and can be burrowed under, you’ll also want to consider putting mesh around the exterior floor of the coop — something called a predator apron — to keep animals from burrowing in under the fence. Disclosure: Boots & Hooves Homestead may earn a commission for purchases made after clicking links on this page. The following information is based on my, monthly “Eggucational” presentation on different problems and issues that can arise when keeping backyard chickens. So opossums use their claws to kill chickens, ripping them open and pretty much apart. My dog was an indoor dog that I’d had for years, and he was gentle with people and my cats. Instead of chicken wire opt for 1/2 … They also love heat lamps… I have heard some disturbing stories about homesteaders finding snakes curled up in a nest box, full of an egg or two. Hungry for a snack, these animals will often stop at nothing to get into your coop – and once they’re in, things can get ugly. What you can do about it: Skunks will dig under a fence easily. You can get a pee spray that literally uses urine from predators such as wolves to deter animals from getting too close. So if your chicken flock is attacked, here’s how can be reasonably assured it was a dog that killed them. Snakes as chicken predators are generally not going to be able to kill and eat a full sized hen or rooster. I’d love to hear about it, so there’s something I want you to do. We’re talking about the creatures that leave you wondering, “what is killing my chickens at night” or, perhaps the other way around — that keep you up all night wondering “what is killing my chickens during the day?” (Both are a possibility!). What you can do about it: Coyotes are similar to foxes in the sense that they are sneaky and smart. Similarly if a chicken got too close to him, it was toast. we discuss 5 common chicken predators. Predators…my small group of social squirrels was attacked yesterday morning by a bobcat. All species of hawks have some basic similarities like very good eyesight which is said to be the best in the animal world, talons on their feet and sharp, hooked beaks for capturing and eating prey. Another option are predator deterrents that contain a motion sensor that flashes lights if they’re set off. Now, let’s get on to why we’re here. Add to Favorites . To illustrate the kind of damage a pack of coyotes can do, I’ve seen photos of calves, probably between 2-3 weeks old, that have been completely skeletonized by a pack of coyotes overnight after it became their chosen prey. Also make sure the roof of the coop is secure, as mountain lions can jump very high. What kills a chicken and just leaves it? Keeping chickens safe from these predators is an important part of learning to care for a happy backyard flock but it’s vital that you fully understand the threats. There are certainly breeds like livestock guardian dogs, that are more protective of a flock of chickens. After all, the little guys are small and, apart from a beak and some pretty pathetic talons, they can’t do much to defend themselves against a determined attacker. This will be an information packed episode that’s full of advice you can use today. Dogs like to bite chickens in the middle and aggressively shake them until they’ve done enough internal damage that the chicken dies. For example killing hawks and eagles is prohibited, so I can’t shoot a hawk that steals my chickens. READ NEXT: ORGANIC CHICKEN FEED RECIPE (THAT WON’T BREAK THE BANK). Hawks, eagles and owls will scout their prey out well before attacking it. Thanks for listening to this episode of what the cluck about common chicken predators, and I’ll see you next time! What killed my Alpha Rooster? We just need to accept that we will loose some birds if we freerange. There are quite a few predators that would love to sink their teeth, claws, or talons into your chickens. First, if a rat can get to the poison, there’s a good chance that your chickens will be able to, as well. If the coop is even just a little bit higher than the ground, many predators will leave it alone. Make sure your chook run mesh is galvanised, a strong gauge and at least 10mm x 10mm to keep your hens as safe as possible. Coyotes are third on our list of chicken predators, and if you don’t know what that is, a coyote is a species of canine that hunts in packs. Many people believe their original lines were brought to Europe during medieval times by the Asian Mongols. This can strike fear in a predator and send them scampering back where they came from with an empty belly. So, how do you know if a hawk took your chickens? Cute Dog But Wants To Play With Chickens. Hi there, and welcome to session 13 of What the Cluck? Preferred method of entry: Aerial attacks. To prevent opossums from killing your chickens, it’s best to have a secure coop with no entry points. I would love it if you dropped me a line at [email protected] to let me know how you handle chicken predators or if you have any questions about it. If you have two or more dogs, a pack mentality can set in, and cause them to egg each other on in antagonizing your chickens. The dog also had no access to the duck pen, so there is no way he could be responsible for the duck deaths or eating them. I’ve walked into coops after a possum attack and there’s just pieces of chickens everywhere, it’s pretty disgusting. If you know you’re at risk of a potential bear attack, ensure your coop is incredibly strong and able to take the weight and muscle of a large animal. They recommend euthanizing chicken predators by gunshot or what they recognize as another humane method of euthanization in accordance with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s recommendations. The best defense against night shift chicken snatchers is a sturdy tight coop. Coop. Many of the following questions were touched on in the article, but for anyone skimming or looking for some more detailed, specific answers, here they are! All they need is about a ½ inch hole, in the case of rats and weasels. Region: Widespread. A friend recently told me that if she feeds her chickens a wheat based diet, her son, who is wheat intolerant, will get sick. Thanks for your interest! Egg Color and Size Cold Hardy Behavior Brooding/Best Coop Recommendation Egg Laying Ameraucana 4-5 blue yes well adaptable to confinement or free range; mostly calm, non-aggressive occasional brooder Best coop: GGC Chic Mobile for 8-12 birds Hi folks. Hardware cloth is preferable to chicken cloth. Like opossums, raccoon attack chickens by biting their heads or upper neck area to kill them. It was large bite marks on the back of the necks. So know your local laws and have a plan to deal with chicken predators within the confines of these laws so you stay out of trouble. That being said, I had one young rooster recently that lived through an opossum attack, with a very deep wound on his back that’s still healing. Building your coop with a raised foundation can easily deter many smaller predators, especially those who might be tempted to chew through wood or dig under a floor. Having other small animals can attract foxes and lead them to your coop, so keep small pets indoors during these times, if possible. This makes them a problem that must be dealt with immediately! In my area, I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be any legal consequences if a dog that attacked a chicken flock was shot, but in other areas of the country, especially more urban areas, you might be looking at gun and animal abuse charges. LISTEN TO THE REST HERE, Getting to know chicken predators by their tracks, track identification of chicken predators. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Now, for more information about animal tracks, my friend Janet at One Acre Farm is a wildlife tracking expert. If digging underground to get into the coop becomes an issue, then letting your chicken wire go 4 inches below the surface of the soil will deter the digging. If you don’t know what Thrive Market is, it’s an online organic supermarket, and it’s a little like Costco meets your favorite farmers market. I’ve also seen raccoon rip chickens right through chicken wire, pretty much mutilating them to death. How you deal with predators, again, will depend where you live and which chicken predators you’re dealing with. Here’s a great video tutorial on how to properly install a predator apron: These can be hit or miss, but there are plenty of options available. I posted it on my Facebook page and got an excellent response. Finally, I live in southern New Jersey, so suspected predators that have killed my chickens in the past include: (1) Cooper’s Hawks; (2) Owls; (3) raccoon; and (4) opossum. Top Chicken Predators – Snakes. Fifth on our list of chicken predators are raccoon, and we all know what they look like. To prevent these attacks make sure you have solid fencing around your coop and your dog can’t get into it. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. So stay with me! Another option are minks and weasels, although it depends on your location. Remember, predators don’t need a full-sized door in order to make their way into your chicken coop. Now a word about relocation. Raccoon are attracted by things like chicken feed laying around, as well as garbage or anything that can be an easy meal for them. What you can do about it: Gather your eggs regularly, move your feeders up off the floor and out of reach of the pests, use traps, and keep your coop well-secured! If you let your chickens free range, you can also give them places to hide like bushes, although this is not nearly as effective as a covered run. A guard dog is also an excellent consideration. It sounds similar to a dog bark, but it’s still pretty unique. How to Protect your Flock from Common Chicken Predators Raccoons. Here is an overview chart of the top threats to your coop. Lisa Steele, a 5th generation chicken keeper and Master Gardener, and author of the popular books Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens Naturally and Gardening with Chickens lives with her husband on a small hobby farm in Maine where she raises a mixed flock of chickens and ducks, grows herbs and enjoys cooking using fresh vegetables from her garden and fresh eggs from her coop. And they might not be your dogs, but perhaps a neighbor’s, or family member’s. There are also light systems available that create the appearance of an animal’s eyes. Her website is and in the show notes, I’ll put a link to her blog as well as an article that goes deeper into track identification of chicken predators. It’s about larger pests (think the size of a rat and up), that want to hunt your chickens, their chicks, and their eggs. Hi Dave, to answer your questions, yes, a skunk can kill your chickens, but usually they rip them up and eat them. Depends on the type of skunk, they can attack your chickens but for most of them, if they enter your coop they will eat… Avoid chicken wire. So, in the name of saving our chickens, here’s our comprehensive article on the most common and dangerous chicken predators, and how to tell which one killed your chickens. You can also set out and remove any nearby piles of compost, rocks, etc. Make sure the cover is secure, without any loose or weak parts through which a hawk could gain access. Keep up the good work. They’re slightly larger than foxes. Next on our list of chicken predators are hawks. Raising chickens is a wonderful experience, but there’s no doubt that it can also be fraught with difficulties and tough decisions. This one came up several times during our list, and with good reason! We will go over some of the most common predators and ways to protect chickens from them specifically. What you can do about it: If bobcats are an issue for you, make sure to construct solid walls to your coop. Foxes carry off the birds to their den and will even bury some of them to eat later. Session 13 [Podcast]. I don’t really see many raccoon in our area, but they do pop up every so often. In this course, you’ll learn how to feed your chickens so they get an optimal diet, lead healthy happy lives, and lay the most nourishing eggs possible. (LIKE THIS PODCAST? Today we’ll talk about common chicken predators, and I know on our farm we’ve seen an uptick in the amount of predators since winter started and other food became scarce for predators. I set a trap in the duck pen after the drake was killed and caught a skunk. We tried tying him up when he was outside, which generally worked, but if he got loose, he would go into the coop and to kill every one. Weasel might be a strong possibility, they can get through tiny cracks. It’s 5 video workshops, that you can access at any time. NOTE: DO NOT use poison to deal with smaller pests like rats. I have friends that lose their flocks to bears, but we don’t have bears in our area. First, I also lost two four-year old ducks this winter. Also, keep garbage to a minimum. Something killed the female first, left her in tact, and then came back the next night to eat her from stomach to spine (head left in tact). Chicken Breed Chart to Help Choose Your Chicken Chicken Breed Picture Bird Size lb. These large cats are not common chicken predators because they prefer much larger prey. What you can do about it: Foxes generally hunt at dusk and in the early morning, especially in the spring when they need to feed their young. You know a coyote is around because you’ll hear when they have prey, they start to wolf pack it as they fight over it. Once they’re protected from the small stuff, there are a few other rules of thumb that can help ensure your chickens are in safe hands.

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