Raccoons are some of the most intelligent predators that poultry farmers worry about. The animals can climb your fences and walls and dig underneath your chicken coop to get to your chicken. Every farmer needs to take different actions continuously as the predators tend to take advantage of minor flaws in chicken structures and use it to kill birds.
A raccoon kills chicken by biting their head or the neck, usually tearing off the head. They can also mutilate the breast and other organs. Normally, the predators will shred the legs and the chicken’s head too after gaining access to your yard. You will notice scattered pieces all over your property.
The animals can also raid your chicken coop in a single day and kill hundreds of birds. The most obvious indication that a raccoon killed your birds is seeing the actual predator. Another sign is footprints. Their tracks are similar to cat or dog tracks. The spread of the toes is the main difference between their tracks.
Droppings and their tracks are pretty distinctive as they have five toes on the front and back paws. A raccoon’s droppings look like dog feces but are usually darker. How do you protect your chicken from the predators? Here are some of the techniques you can use:
Make the Structure Unattractive to the Animals
The predators love quick and easy meals. Therefore, ensure you keep your trash can lids tight. Make sure the pet food stays inside, especially during the night hours. They have a strong sense of smell. Therefore, if they smell an easy meal from food’s leftovers, they may get into your home and find your birds.
The chicken feeders should always be out of reach. Get rid of all the fallen seeds in your kitchen coop as they may attract the animals. Raccoons love eating seeds. If you keep leaving seeds around the structures, raccoons will keep coming back to attack your birds.
The small bandits can climb, meaning they can easily reach the bird feeders. Another technique of protecting the birds is to use a raccoon-proof bird feeder. If you have a bird-bath in your yard, you need to take extra care to keep your chicken safe.
Raccoon Proof Your Chicken Structure
Ensure your chicken house has raccoon-proof latches such as combination locks or latches. You will not need to worry about raccoon intrusions if your locks have at least two steps to open. Alternatively, consider using heavy equipment like cinderblocks to lean up against the chicken house.
Acquire some hardware cloth and put it around the windows and the run. Is chicken wire raccoon-proof? Chicken wire can keep your birds in, but some raccoons can rip it apart. Hardware cloth is more effective as it is sturdier than chicken wire. Ensure you burry it up to 4 feet deep around the chicken run and structure.
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This helps to prevent the predators from climbing. Since a raccoon can climb, put the hardware cloth over the roof and make sure you secure it tightly. Also, note that the little animals can get into the chicken coop through weak spots on the walls and surroundings.
Use Traps and Remove Raccoons
Usually, many poultry farmers use traps as a last resort. Trapping is not as easy as you may think. If you intend to use the traps yourself, you need to take some measures to protect yourself against injuries. Note that the little bandits can spread diseases and can be vicious when trapped.
Also, many jurisdictions require people to get a permit before the relocation of raccoons. Therefore, you need to have a plan for the action you need to take after capturing them. If you secure a permit, consider the distance as it’s key.
When the predators are released, they can find their way back to your home. You can avoid that by releasing them over five miles away. Alternatively, you can contact the local animal control facility to come for them.
You Need a Guard Dog
Some poultry farmers have reported success by using guard dogs and techniques such as yelling and leaving the radio on. Note that when a raccoon is trapped, they can attack you and hence the need to use such tricks. In the event of a nuisance around the animals’ litters, the mother is likely to relocate the babies.
Therefore, it may be worth using the tactics if a den if there’s an existing den. The animals are intelligent and adaptable, necessitating vigilance. The best prevention method is proper maintenance around your chicken coop. Monitor the signs of the animals regularly.
Use Deterrent Lights
Raccoons are nocturnal animals. The night hours means lower chances of contact with humans or other potential threats. Some experts recommend using motion detectors and floodlights to scare away raccoons from your chicken house. You need to consider some factors to ensure the effectiveness of the trick.
First, the deterrent lights should be installed around the perimeters of the chicken coop. The lights should produce enough light to scare the small predators away.
The drawback of using the lights is that the predators can easily adapt to the surroundings. With time, raccoons may realize that the lights are just another reflection of street lights. Some companies have developed better technology that uses a red beam.
Increasing Visibility Around the Chicken House
Ensure you cut the grass and shrubs around the structure. By doing so, raccoons will not have spaces for hiding or getting into the coop. Ideally, build a chicken house away from bushes and hedges. Alternatively, trim all the nearby branches to allow more light in and increase visibility.
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Although they are clever animals, they are still wild, and you can frighten them away by using a human guard. Therefore, ensure the structure is easily visible from your home so that you can respond to any intrusions within the shortest time possible.
Use Hardware Cloth
Chicken wire cannot offer enough protection for your birds. Although it’s expensive, predators can easily tear through it. Consider buying ½ or ¼ inch hardware cloth around your chicken structure. The small openings make it hard for the little bandits to access your coop and attack the chicken.
One of the benefits of using the material is that it’s durable, giving you value for your money. You will not need to worry about ripping or tearing in the event of raccoon intrusions. You can place the material on all the windows and other openings in your chicken coop.
By installing hardware cloth at the bottom of the run, the animals cannot dig under the run. You also need to build a roof to keep your chicken safe. Another way to boost your birds’ safety is by installing electrified netting.
Be Wary of the Cold Seasons
During the fall season, the small predators are hungry and require more calories to fatten up and adapt to the cold temperature. This poses more risks for your birds. Inspect your chicken coop and fix any existing gaps. Raccoons and other predators tend to be more active at night.
Therefore, only let your birds out later in the morning. Note that the animals may still be hunting early in the morning. By doing so, you reduce the chances of intrusions. Additionally, go to the chicken house earlier in the evening before the birds settle.
Keeping Away Raccoons Using Scents
The animals have a well-developed sense of smell, which leads them to your birds’ house. Fortunately, you can still keep them away from your chicken house. One of the products you can use to prevent raccoon intrusions is ammonia or bleach. Their smell will keep the animals away.
They are readily available in many home supply stores. Spread them across the chicken structures. Some stores also sell predator urine. By using the urine, the small animals will stay away from your chicken. The drawback of using it is that it may make your birds uneasy. Therefore, ammonia is a better option.
Another common solution for dealing with the predators is Irish spring soap. The ingredients in them are believed to be effective in keeping raccoons away from your chicken. Take the soap flakes and scatter them around the edges of your chicken structure. This creates a barrier to the animals.
Fix the Fence
Can an electric fence protect my chicken from the predators? This is a common question among many poultry farmers. They have proven to be effective solutions for raccoon intrusions. However, their effectiveness depends on circumstances and is limited. Therefore, you need to consider other solutions.
Experts recommend the installation of an electric fence if raccoons become a major problem. What makes the predators an ideal solution? Nobody would want to be electrocuted. Similarly, a raccoon will stay away from the chicken house if they notice an electric fence around it.
Although electrocution doesn’t necessarily mean a raccoon will never come back, it is an effective deterrent. The area you intend to install an electric fence to protect your birds against raccoons will also determine whether it’s a viable option.
More reading: How to Protect Your Chicken from Coyotes
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