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Traps: You will need to bait and stake out traps in the areas that predators are getting into your coop. These traps are great for "catch and release" or you can destroy the pesky predator that has been killing your chickens. Traps come in many shapes and sizes. You will have some work ahead of you if you choose this solution. Does not always work effectively.
PROS: Many traps gives you the choice to free the predator and let it live, take it to another location and "release"
CONS: Can be heavy to carry and time consuming to bait and check traps, may take a while to work and catch your critter.
If adult chickens are missing but no other signs of disturbance exist, the predator probably is a dog, a coyote, a fox, a bobcat, a hawk, or an owl. These predators typically are able to kill, pick up, and carry off an adult chicken. Hawks typically take chickens during the day, whereas owls take them during the night.
"Scarecrow" and other named motion activated water activated "scare" for predators. When the predator comes near your protected area, the motion sensors will spray a quick blast of water. The sudden noise and water is enough to scare most predators away. Yes it DOES work too. But predators come in all shapes and sizes. Think of the water you will be spraying at night. Do you live in a drought or low water area? This this might not be best solution for you.
PROS: It works by scaring some predators (not all) away.
CONS: The predator comes close to your coop area. It may learn a different path to avoid being sprayed and can enter your coop or run again.
Rat Bait: "Just One Bite" rat bait REALLY WORKS. Make sure to put this bait in areas that your pets and kids cannot get into. Use a sandwich container put bait in, place lid on top and duct tape or seal well. Cut a hole the size of quarter in both ends. Place around your coop area or IN the coop area near chicken food. Make SURE its sealed.
PROS: Really works. Is effective in controlling the rat population
CONS: Is real poison and should be handled carefully. If containers not used the pets and children may be harmed (or your chickens) This product is not weatherproof for very long. But it KILLS rats.
Fake Barn Owls. (or other scary birds) A stationary owl-like predator control will help with SOME predators. May be motion activated to use eyes and "hoot" owl sounds. May even "flap" wings too You will need to attach it to your fence area near the coop area.
PROS: This unit is lightweight usually and comes in several colors and styles, not too expensive and may work on SOME animals
CONS: May not be weatherproof for very long. May not be good for all predators. Is not strong to withstand lots of heat or high winds
This is what your coop looks like AFTER most predators eat dinner! Any questions?
"Kids And Dogs"
Can and will injure or can kill your chickens. Unless you TRAIN your dog and raise it as a puppy with your chickens, it will harm your flock. Be sure to watch small children near chickens. MANY injuries or deaths of chickens can be from kids and dogs! Most of the time they just want to "play" but a dead chicken is what results most of the time. And don't be hard on your dog. Its "instinct" to attack something that moves.
Which Predator Control Is Best For Your Coop? Below are a few of the most common methods for predator control. Included are the "pros and cons" of using each method. There are no "perfect solutions" for your coop, without testing several methods to see which works best for your coop.
Predator proofing your coop against animals is as individual as each chicken coop is different.. Some animal proofing works for some chicken owners, but it may not work for you. In MOST cases you may have to try several of these methods and or a combination of methods to see what is best for your coop to prevent predators.
In ALL cases building the BEST and STRONGEST coop and predator proofing your coop BEFORE you get started is the best way to have chickens in the morning. Remember, predators may still try to get into your coop.
This is a raccoon wanting a chicken dinner
"Solar Night Lights" that blink to scare predators. There are several popular brands and they do WORK.
Pros: These lights do work in scaring predators. They keep away most all of them. Bobcats, Raccoons, Foxes, Owls, Coyotes and other
Cons: With NO predators in your area to consume fast breeding pesky RATS.(or domestic or feral cats) You will have to deal with these pests, rats and cats do kill and eat young to medium sized chickens and LOT of them. They will may decide to even live in your coop area (rats or cats) any left over feed at night will attract rats, and the smell of young chicken will attract cats. These pests breed frequently, may carry diseases, and will stay in your coop to feed their young. Rats chew through wire and wood. One of the worst pests that will cost you money and time.(and kill your chickens) Plus as a side note: more rats equal more SNAKES! Note: "night light" protectors DO NOT protect against rats, domestic house cats or feral (wild cats)
One store even had a sign: “Golden Malrin®—KillsGroundhogs, Opossums and Raccoons—One cup fly bait and one can regular coke.” ... Their proposed solution: Reclassify methomyl fly baits as “restricted use” products.Feb 18, 2016
Remember, hungry predators have been around for millions of years. There are not too many things to stop a very hungry critter from eating your chickens if you free range.
Especially if you are new to chickens - build a predator proof coop (and keep chickens inside for protection) as the BEST solution to prevent the loss of chickens from free ranging.