[If you have not already read part one of this two part post, you can read it here.]
You can also build a fenced-in yard or run for your birds. This will protect the birds both day and night. This is one of the safest options for the birds. However, one of the draw backs to this option is that the birds will eventually have all of the grass and vegetation removed from the area. They will also not have as much access to bugs, seeds, and vegetation as if they were “free ranged”.
If you do decide on a fenced yard or run, there are a few things to keep in mind. First bury your fence 6-12” in the ground. This will keep out dogs and other digging animals that may try to burrow under your fence. If birds of prey, like owls and hawks, are prevalent in your area, you will want to either provide your birds with a covered area in which they can hide or cover your run with netting.
There are many predators that can climb a fence, such as raccoons. One way to stop them is to run an electric shock wire 6” above the ground at the base of your fence. Another electric wire along the top of your fence will provide additional security.
If you would like to “free range” your birds, we suggest portable electric fencing that is designed to be easily relocated every few days to give your birds access to fresh grass and also keep them safe. We have solar, battery, and plug-in energizers to fit your needs.
Most of the predator activity happens at night. Scientific studies have shown that all night animals share the same deeply rooted fear of being watched and therefore threatened. We have a very simple device that mimics the red reflection given off by animal’s eyes at night, the Nite Guard. It is solar charged during the day and requires no maintenance. You mount the small Nite Guard box near your coop. The flashing red light will make the predator think he is being watched, and he will be leery to come closer.
I hope these few ideas will help you keep your poultry safe. Enjoy your flock and know that we are always here to help.
Your Friends at Murray McMurray Hatchery.
We have 18 guinea fowl that keep our property bug free. They go over next door and clean their yard. Our neighbors are thrilled with our birds. We don’t allow the guineas to sleep in the trees. We put them up every night. We raised them in a large dog crate and herded them back to bed when it was time by trilling at them and saying, “let’s go to bed, babies”. Now we go to the pen and start calling, “let’s go to bed, babies,” and here they come (of course they they have to stop at the feed tray before heading in, LOL). We have 18 birds follow us around, even when we go for a walk through the woods, they are hot on our heels pak-racking. We love it. We also have 27 Cuckoo Marans, 4 Easter Egg chickens (green eggs nd ham, LOL)
I lost 17 barred rocks and a 9lb rooster to weasles. I was really puzzled how to keep these devils from my hens. So… I installed electric fencing around the entire perimeter of my chicken lot, starting about 2″ from the bottom, and then every 18″. That cured my weasel problem.
We have just lost a full grown hen to what I believe is a hawk we’ve seen around. (No sign of a struggle, not even a single feather.) The remaining 5 hens are free-range, and I would like to find a way to protect them without completely confining them to a run. Any suggestions? We live on 3 acres, much is wooded. Our dog seems to keep other predators away, and the girls are locked up every night, so it’s really a day time problem.
I would get a Rooster they will defend the Flock from predators. Also some breeds are better suited to free ranging than others.
If you have broody hens, and don’t want to set them, remove them from their nest to a cage and keep plenty water and feed in there for her. If you let her set on the nest she has chose to set in she will set there until she gets poor. Move her to another cage and keep plenty food and water. She will start eating to gain her body weight and get her body ready to start laying again. The longer she sets the longer it is going to take her to build her body back.
We put about a 2 inch wide line of pellitized Lime around the chicken coop. We had problems with snakes before we started doing that but have not had any problems with snakes since we started doing that. It needs to be replaced after heavy rains.
In response to the snake problems:
We had some snake activity so we placed a “hot wire” just 2 inches off the ground. Sure enough, came out one morning and a snake with an egg in his belly was lying under the wire, dead. Seems the egg was big enough that when the snake tried to crawl under the wire he electrocuted himself.
Hope this helps.
I’ve lost three chicks (hatched June 15) over the last month to what I believe is a snake. The heads and necks appear to have been “wet”, with feathers matted, but the bodies are untouched. I’m guessing that the culprit isn’t large enough to devour the bodies — yet. I’m new to chicken raising, and welcome suggestions for thwarting this predator.
I too have a problem with snakes. I’ve caught 4 this summer, all black snakes. I’ve tried snake-away, moth balls and sulfur without success. They started by eating my eggs then the chicks. I placed golf balls in the nests and caught one that actually ate it! 1 chick was a little too big and was wet up to the neck like it was drowned just like you said. Later I caught one with the chick in it’s belly. I haven’t found the solution yet but I will try the electronic deterrent next. If you find a solution or anyone knows please help!
I’ve been told, some poultry make good garden bug controllers. We have chickens, ducks, and geese. Which would make the best controller? Is there a breed that is the best? Thanks, Ernie
Mother Earth News regarding a “Chicken Moat”. Basically it uses a perimeter alley run where chickens can roam and provide a defense against bugs and other things, while being segregated from the garden.
Check it out. I hope this helps.
I have a hen that is brooding. How long does this last? We have offered her food in the nest box, but she won’t even eat. I am concerned about her.
Once a day off the nest for a brooding hen is typical. No need for concern. Keep food and water near and available. A brooding hen does not want to be observed leaving her clutch of eggs she is protecting.
I let my hens set on eggs once they go broody. It doesn’t matter if they set on one or 12. I find that they come out of being broody quicker if you allow her to set and hatch. Otherwise I have had hens set for months and do nothing. Also I wouldn’t worry too much about your broody hen not eating. She gets down when no one is around and gets what she needs and then returns to diligently guard her eggs.