Whether you’re in it for the farm-fresh eggs or the fun, feathery companions, keeping chickens is a rewarding job. That’s why losing your flock to predators is such a hard blow. Unfortunately, Missouri is home to all the most common chicken predators. From birds of prey to burrowing rodents, you have your work cut out for you if you want to keep your beloved birds safe. Get started with these three tips for predator-proofing your chicken coop.
Choose the Right Materials
Each type of predator has unique methods of sneaking inside your coop and attacking your chickens. Make sure the fencing material you choose can withstand all of them. You want a sturdy fencing material that won’t bend or fall over when dogs, coyotes, and other large predators come up against it. At the same time, your fencing can’t have holes big enough for snakes, rats, and other small creatures to sneak through. Hardware cloth with smaller holes is a great solution. You can also use multiple fences—sturdy chain link on the exterior and fine chicken wire on the interior—for a multi-tiered defense that works well against all predators.
Consider Your Flyers
One of the biggest tips for predator-proofing your chicken coop is to keep your local predators in mind. If hawks, owls, and other birds of prey keep snatching up your flock, fortify your coop against flying predators. Installing a roof over your run offers great protection from flyers and climbers alike. You can also use overhead mesh or poultry netting to deter winged predators.
Consider Your Diggers
Not all threats come from above the ground. Even with sturdy fencing, burrowing creatures like skunks, rats, and weasels can easily dig beneath the fence and make their way into your coop. The good news is that these creatures won’t dig that far into the ground. When you install your fence, bury it about a foot deep. Predators that attempt to burrow beneath the fence will give up and turn around to find easier prey, leaving your chickens safe and sound in their coop.