As laws regarding the keeping of small livestock in urban areas continue to be relaxed, an increasing number of families are choosing to keep a flock of backyard chickens. Instead of having to source their family's eggs from the grocery store, those who keep chickens in the backyard now have an option to produce their own supply of eggs and meat for their families to enjoy.
In addition to supplementing the family's food supply with healthy, fresh food, backyard chickens in a city setting can provide benefits including insect control, lawn fertilization, and teaching children about animal care and ethical food production. But predators can still be a real threat, even in these densely populated neighborhoods.
Realize the threat
The first thing new backyard chicken farmers should know about keeping their flock safe is which predators they are most likely to have to guard against. Depending the area of the country in which you live and the climate therein, you may find yourself dealing with a variety that includes coyotes, foxes, raccoons, opossums, minks, rats, and feral cats.
Establish good barriers
The first line of defense when protecting your backyard flock against depredation is to have good defensive barriers in place. Since many of the most likely predators you will encounter can both climb and dig very well, it is wise to start with good quality chicken wire to form the sides and top of the enclosure where your chickens will be penned at night and in periods when you are away from your home.
To prevent predators from digging beneath the wire and slipping inside the enclosure along the perimeter, you will need to install it so that several inches of it are below ground level.
This is done by:
Additionally, the wire will need to be supported by steel or wooden fence posts every six feet around the enclosure and fully enclose the top of the enclosure.
Install security lights
Most of the predators you will face when keeping backyard chickens prefer to strike under the cover of darkness. To thwart their activities, a good idea is to consider installing bright lights that are motion-activated and capable of illuminating the entire chicken enclosure when triggered by a predator.
To learn more about protecting your backyard chicken flock from predators, or to help you eliminate a known predator, homeowners can contact a professional animal removal specialist in their area, like Tri-County Dead Stock Inc.