Security & Storage
Predator proofing your chicken coop is essential to the survival of your flock. Predators in the sky, on the ground, and below will try to infiltrate your mini fortress. One of the best ways to protect your flock is to secure your coop every night. Make sure you count your chickens and keep them inside with locked doors
Raising chickens requires you to research predators that may live in your area. Predators exist in the most rural or suburban environments. Even your pet cat or dog can pose a threat to your backyard hens and their eggs. Here are just some of the chicken’s most common predators:
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Some backyard chicken owners choose to install an automatic door opener to let their chickens out in the morning and keep them in at night. If you don’t have this high-tech tool, make sure to invest in padlock doors to provide more protection against animals with nimble fingers. Some owners have had success with a carabiner over snap-hook locks to secure doors.
Many builders choose to elevate their coop on stilts and build a wood floor. Keep in mind, your wood will eventually deteriorate and create an opening for rodents. If you don’t choose to elevate your coop, a ground floor is enough protection for your birds. If possible, bury your fencing under the ground to deter underground burrowers.
When building your coop, ensure you are protecting the windows to prevent predators from entering through these openings used for ventilation. Hardware cloth is a protective material that can keep animals away while keeping windows open, especially during the hot summer months. Make sure your hardware cloth is small enough (about ½ inch) to keep out small critters. If possible, keep your windows closed at night.
Store your feed in durable containers such as metal barrels. Make sure your metal containers are lined with food-safe liner. If not, keep your feed in the bag instead of filling it directly into the metal container. Heavy plastic storage bins can also keep your food safe but may eventually succumb to regular gnawing from vermin.
Feeder and Waterer
Feeder and waterer placement is a personal choice and depends on a lot of factors. What’s your flock size? Is your run protected? Some keep their feeders and waterers inside the coop when possible to avoid attracting other birds and animals during the day and at night. Placing a metal roof or netting can keep animals from accessing food and water in the chicken run.
Some owners use guard animals such as the Great Pyrenees dog breed to protect the flock at a small farm or garden. Keep in mind, some dogs can get too excited and playfully chase the chickens around. In the worst-case scenario, your pup’s roughhousing can prove deadly for your flock. Make sure you have a close eye on what’s going on around your coop.
Some owners use guinea fowl to protect their flock. Guinea fowl can stand toe to toe with coyotes. They can, however, be too noisy for some. These are better suited for rural environments that can accommodate their noise levels. Others use a rooster, although it may not be able to stand up to larger animals alone and can be noisy, too.
Electric fencing can be a good option if you want maximum poultry security. Putting an electric wire on the bottom of the coop can deter underground burrowers. A second wire above it can deter medium-sized animals like racoons. If you live in bear country, an electric net fence can give your intruders a shocking message they won’t soon forget.
When maintaining a chicken coop, you’ll need to safely and securely store your chicken feed. Feed that becomes too moist can develop mold, which can be detrimental to your flock’s health. Ensure your feed container has a tight lid to keep moisture levels down and starving rodents out. Sturdy containers can last many years but eventually need replacement.
A steady supply of egg baskets is another handy storage option for your eggs. An egg basket allows you to store extra fresh eggs you don’t use. Having a supply of egg cartons nearby allows you to easily store eggs in your home or give them away to friends and family. Egg cartons can be reused all throughout egg-laying season.