Whatever your reasons for keeping chickens (whether for meat or as pets), one of the common concerns you’d be faced with involve their safety. Having backyard poultry in areas known for raccoon activity or presence is worrisome.
Hence the question; do raccoons each chicken?
Raccoons are omnivorous creatures and feed on just about anything they come across. Yes! Including chickens! This might come as sad news to you if you’ve hoped the answer to be different. Unfortunately, it is. Raccoons do eat chickens.
However, getting the answer to your pressing question, although disappointing can be seen in a different light; you get to take appropriate preventive measures.
How Raccoons Hunt
As chicken predators, raccoons will hunt as many birds as they can get access to.
Apart from killing these birds, they partially feed on them and leave their carcasses behind. This would have been tolerable to an extent if raccoons only killed one chicken.
Do you have a fence you think will keep raccoons out?
Unfortunately, raccoons will climb over barriers like walls to get to their prey. For obstacles that may prove quite difficult for them to get over such as wire meshes with briers above, raccoons can still reach for chickens putting or slotting their hands through openings to pull your birds out.
What more? When fences prove difficult to climb over, raccoons possess the manual dexterity to dig under such fences into your yard to get to your chickens. This makes their presence very challenging for poultry farmers.
Whatever the difficulties are, raccoon control is achievable and effective when done using the right strategies.
Keeping Raccoons Away From Chicken
Due to their destructive activity, you’ll need to find ways to keep raccoons at bay. There are many strategies to adopt.
These range from the use of traps, raccoon-proofing your coop, keeping a trained dog, making your surroundings unattractive, locking your chickens at night, and producing loud noises.
Other strategies include creating increased visibility around your coop, surrounding your yard with unpleasant odors, installing motion sensor lights, and installing flashing lights.
Let’s further discuss each of these as follows;
Use of Traps
Trapping is one way to get raccoons out of your surroundings to save your chickens.
Now, this isn’t as easy as you might think as raccoons might fight back when they feel threatened. It’s best to use professional services such as animal control to get them off your property.
Humane traps are the best to use when faced with a raccoon problem. Such traps do not cause pain or injury and will only restrict the free movement of these chicken predators.
If you’ll be doing this trapping job yourself, ensure you have the experience necessary.
Raccoon-Proofing Your Coop
The chicken coop should be reinforced such that raccoons have a hard time gaining entry.
There are many ways to do this. Some of the most common and effective strategies include the use of raccoon-proof latches. The more complex it is to open, the more difficult it becomes for these clever predators to gain access.
Another strategy you can use to protect your coop includes the use of hardware cloth over open areas such as coop windows and around the run. Raccoons can be really desperate to get across to your chickens. In such cases, chicken wire protection will provide minimal resistance.
The chicken wire is unlike the hardware cloth which is known to be tougher and withstand even the fiercest attempt by raccoons to get access to your coop. Remember when we said raccoons will attempt to dig below fences or obstacles?
Well, you’ll need to bury your hardware cloth protection at least 2 to 4 feet deep around your coop. In extreme cases, you can go all out by covering the roof of your coop with your hardware cloth to keep raccoons out.
Keeping a Trained Dog
A trained dog is stressed here because the untrained one is likely to join in on the feast. Trained dogs are known to be effective and vigilant to any unusual activity that may signify the presence of predators.
Raccoons are also afraid of large trained dogs and will keep their distance from your coop.
Making Your Surroundings Unattractive
Apart from chickens, raccoons are also attracted to human dwellings when there’s a sign of an easy meal. Such easy meals are found in garbage cans, pet food left outside, and tree seeds lying around. Bird feeders also serve to attract raccoons.
All of these conditions make your surroundings attractive. You’ll need to get rid of them or use reinforcements to keep out raccoons.
Eliminate all signs of an easy meal. This includes closing your garbage cans tightly, taking in pet food at night, and reinforcing bird feeders to make them raccoon-proof. You’ll also need to clean fallen tree seeds as often as possible.
Locking Your Chickens At Night
Whether you allow your chickens to roam at night or use a coop, you’ll need to move them in and lock them at night.
Not securing your doors and other entry points serve as an open invitation to raccoons for a feast.
Producing Loud Noises
This method, though effective can become a problem for neighbors. People might get irritated when such noise is produced. In the absence of that, producing loud noise helps to scare raccoons away as they feel unsafe.
Another option you can choose from involves using ultrasonic devices to scare raccoons away. This solves the problem of disturbance to neighbors as only animals can listen to its frequency. Note that ultrasonic devices can be distressing to your pets.
Creating Increased Visibility Around Coop
Chicken predators such as raccoons love the cover. They hunt better when there are hiding spots such as grasses or other obstacles that hinder visibility. As such, it’s best to clear such obstacles to enhance visibility.
That way, raccoons find your coop uninviting.
Surrounding Your Yard with Unpleasant Odor
Raccoons are known to hate certain odors.
Some of the most common and most hated odors by raccoons include cayenne pepper, garlic, ammonia, and onions. You can create a repellent using any of these. Spray around your yard to keep raccoons at bay.
Installing Motion-Sensor Lights & Flashing Lights
Motion sensor lights and flashing lights achieve the same purpose. They scare raccoons away. Motion sensor lights are triggered when raccoons step into unwanted territory.
So far, we’ve been able to establish the fact that raccoons do eat chickens. While this is true, there are ways to keep these chicken predators out of your yard or surroundings. These too have been listed above.