Apart from the highly unpleasant odor of skunk spray released from their anal glands as a defensive weapon to ward off the perceived threat, skunks also cause other problems.
This article started with a question; do skunks eat chickens? The simple answer is yes they do.
These animals are among the many chicken predators farmers have to deal with. While this answer may be disappointing for aspiring farmers, it also serves as a wake-up call to adopt strategies that will keep skunks at bay.
Skunks Rarely Kill Mature Chicken
Although skunks are known to eat chickens, they hardly kill mature chickens only in exceptional cases.
Not only will skunks eat young chickens, but they also prey on chicken eggs which make them very destructive. This is a nightmare for most farmers as they could wake up to find their sweat and labor all destroyed overnight.
How Skunks Hunt
Skunks are known to be nocturnal creatures.
This means they’re most active when you sleep at night. This makes it even more challenging. When skunks come around, they don’t climb fencing or obstacles. Rather they are well adapted to dig below barriers to get to their prey.
Understanding skunk hunting behavior enables you to adequately prepare. You can keep skunks out of your coop and environment when you know this behavior.
What Makes Skunk Presence Worrisome
If you suspect skunk presence around your home or coop, it’s important to find effective measures to get rid of them. That is because when skunks gain access to your coop, they go on a killing spree.
In other words, you’re likely to find more than a dozen dead chickens and an even greater number of damaged eggs. All these can be perpetrated by a single skunk. This damage increases with more skunks.
Hence, you’ll need to find immediate solutions to your skunk problem. Here, we’ve gone further to provide you with ways to contain this damage. Skunks will need to be excluded and kept out of your coop and entire surroundings.
Luckily, there are several ways to achieve this. The next section highlights these steps and provides key information on ways to handle or prevent skunks from eating your chickens.
Protecting Chickens From Skunks
Chicken predators such as skunks can be excluded or kept out of your coop and surroundings by adopting certain restrictive measures. These range from installing chicken wire fencing, proper storage of animal feeds, closing all garbage cans, and removing or clearing all possible nesting areas.
Additional steps to protect your chicken from skunks include live trapping, installing motion-sensor lights, and using ultrasonic devices for scare purposes.
Installing Chicken Wire Fencing
Good wire fencing will need to be installed for your chickens. This doesn’t need to be too high as skunks aren’t good climbers. Such fencing should be at least 3 feet high and must surround your coop.
Remember we said skunks dig below obstacles to reach their prey right? Due to this fact, part of your wire fencing (at least 1 1/2 to 2 feet will need to be buried underground. When burying the wire fencing, about 6 inches of it should be bent outwards. That is, away from your coop.
When this is successful, skunks have a hard time figuring out how to make their way to your chickens. This is an effective way of not only preventing skunks but keeping them out.
Proper Storage of Animal Feed
Another way to keep skunks away includes removing all possible forms of food. Skunks are omnivorous and will feed on just about anything they can. This includes animal feed. At the end of each day, properly store animal feed and also take all animal feeders indoors.
When skunks come around to feed in the night, they find no food around to gorge themselves on. This makes your surroundings less inviting, thus saving your birds in the process. The common animal feed includes cat and dog food.
Closing All Garbage Cans
Skunks are known to forage for food in garbage cans. Asides from your coop, foul-smelling, and uncovered garbage cans serve as prime targets for skunks. If your garbage can is close to your chicken coop, take it as far away as possible.
You also need to properly seal such cans to prevent skunks from toppling it over and pouring out its contents. Your sealed cans should present a hopeless situation to skunks as they are disappointed and look elsewhere.
Removing Possible Nesting Areas
Skunks will readily nest around your home and chicken coop as long as the conditions are favorable.
Favorable nesting conditions include trash piles, standing brush, and old lumber. These creatures love clutter and some covering.
You’ll need to get rid of these to keep your surroundings free of skunks. You don’t want to allow them to find a suitable nesting area as it significantly increases the risk to your chickens.
Live trapping of skunks is a delicate process and should be done handled by an expert.
Skunks will easily attack you with their highly offensive odorous spray which is released from anal “scent” glands. This smell is hard to get rid of and may remain for a few days.
For this reason, it’s safer to allow the experts to carry out the live-trapping process. A humane approach is mostly adopted by animal removal services. Skunks are removed from your home and taken to a more natural habitat, thus saving your chickens.
Installing Motion Sensor Lights
Motion-sensor lights serve as vital skunk repellents and for a wide variety of animal pests. You only need to install these in areas surrounding your chicken coop.
When this is done, the light is triggered to come on whenever skunks come close. Skunks scurry away at the sudden flash of lights as it represents danger.
Using Ultrasonic Devices
With ultrasonic devices, you get the advantage of producing a high pitched and uncomfortable sound.
This isn’t picked by the human ear due to differences in frequency. However, for skunks, they find such irritating and would rather stay away from your chicken coop than brave the scary sound.
Skunks are known to eat or prey on small chickens as well as their eggs. The methods outlined above provide you with ways to prevent them from doing so.