How to Protect Chickens from Feral Animals

Chickens can be very vulnerable to predators such as foxes, coyotes, and other carnivores seeking an easy meal. Protecting chickens requires a little forethought and some regular maintenance and monitoring to ensure that they are kept safe. This article presents some ways to protect chickens.


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    Provide a sturdy and safe living place for chickens. A hutch or small shed built specially or customized for chickens should be free of holes or gaps in its walls, runs and any fences leading to an attached outside feeding area. Use "chicken wire" to create runs and attached outdoor feeding areas. The wire should go underground to prevent predators from digging (see next step).
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    Create deep fences to prevent predators from digging to gain access. Ensure that the fences go at least half a meter (1.6 feet) below ground level. This will prevent predators from digging below the fence. This is one of the best ways to protect your chickens. Be sure to check at the base of sheds also for any gaps where a predator might start digging. Cover these in chicken wire and extend the wire into the ground.
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    Provide additional predator barriers. If you have a rigid fence, put footplates next to the fence, lying on the ground. Predators will try to dig right next to the fence; footplates will help to prevent them.
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    Introduce the smell of humans. Some people believe that the scent of humans is off-putting to predators; there is probably not a lot of evidence for this idea but if you do want to try it here are some methods:
    • Hang small perforated bags, such as socks, full of hair you have collected from your brushes from the hutch or a nearby tree.
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    • Tie pantyhose (used) on the fence around the hutch, especially at possible entrance points. Ideally cut down the tights or pantyhose into bags and stuff with hair as they make excellent perforated bags.
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    Lock up the chicken hutch every day without fail. If you have chickens that forage outside of their hutch, make sure to have a routine to shut the entrance firmly once the chickens have gone to bed at sundown. One moment of forgetfulness could be the moment a predator takes advantage.
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    Deter predators. Learn about methods to keep predators away from your property in the first place. It might be a case of removing hiding spaces, of keeping guard animals or of using chemical or physical barriers and deterrents. This will depend on the type of predator and where you are living. Ask for assistance from local authorities responsible for wildlife for suggestions.


  • Be alert for noises from the chicken hutch. If there is a commotion, it is prudent to check it out immediately.
  • Employ the use of a beneficial predator. An outdoor canine will help protect its "herd."
  • Have more than one person responsible for keeping an eye on the chickens' safety. A shared chore is always an easier one.


  • It is never OK to just leave putting chickens away for one night. Foxes have been observed checking on a coop every night, waiting for the night when the chickens are not locked up and that's the night they strike. They will kill a whole flock if given the opportunity and can scale wire with ease. They aren't strong enough to break open a hen house, though.
  • If a predator does get to your chickens, you will need to be very vigilant. Most predators will return to the scene of the crime because they know it is an easy place to obtain a meal. Fix all the access points the predator used and consider humane and legal methods for removing the predator permanently.

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Categories: Chickens