The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Chicken tractor predator protection

Chicken tractor predator protection

"Do you have problems with raccoons?  My neighbor has tried chickens for almost 10 years and every single time except this last time (when it turns out the "hens" were roosters. Oy!) raccoons figured out how to get into the chicken tractor (which is really very well built) and EAT them.  Got any suggestions?" --- Nayan

It's tough to make a chicken tractor light enough to pull and still strong enough to keep out predators.  The photo above shows how Kayla used movable screens to keep a hawk from reaching through the mesh into her chicken tractor.

We recommend not trying to beef up your tractor to keep out raccoons.  Instead, keep your chicken tractor very close to home (and get a good dog, if possible) to scare any potential predators away.

With raccoons, it's also handy to make sure your birds eat any kitchen scraps very quickly.  We learned the hard way that raccoons will come for scraps and stay to eat your chickens.  Better a flock that only eats store-bought feed and grass than birds with a more diverse diet who end up in a raccoon's belly.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hmmmm Coon Hound ,any large terrior type dog (try the local pound ) ,.22 rifle / 410 loaded with buckshot .

Comment by diogenese Fri Aug 22 19:13:23 2014

We've had issues with raccoon predation before. It is not fun. They always seems to be interested in the younger birds. Not super little (since you'll be watching them close in the brooder) and not too big, but usually right at the point where it will cost you the most time, feed, and emotion. At least in my experience.

We moved even further into the woods last year, and while I second the opinion that a decent sized dog or two is a must there are some easy, cheap structures that may work better for you. Bot can be seen here:

"The Box" is 2 hog panels with a bit of cheap plastic mesh. An additional hog or goat panel roof could be clipped on at night for 100% locked down protection.

The third photo on that post is a new structure. 2 cattle panels arched over a 8x10 frame. When the young birds move on to the main coop or freezer I think it will get a clear skin and be a mobile greenhouse.

I would be happy to respond to comments on the blog (or emails) with questions about what we're doing here or how to build these things if you need, or if there's something I didn't explain well enough here.

Comment by leos.mike Sat Aug 23 08:38:47 2014
Good ideas! I'm going to send that to my neighbor. He's got two dogs (both inherited) but they're 1) old and 2) L-a-z-y!!!!! Another neighbor now tells me that she has problems with possums getting into the henhouse and eating the birds. Who knew possums did that???
Comment by Nayan Sat Aug 23 08:40:53 2014
It is not clear to me how screens on the ground on either side of the chicken tractor would provide protection? Do they somehow frighten away predators?
Comment by indigotiger Sun Aug 24 14:16:46 2014
indigotiger --- Kayla leans the screens up against the side of the coop when she's going into anti-predator mode. Since hawks don't have the flexibility of raccoons, the screens are enough to keep them at bay.
Comment by anna Sun Aug 24 17:48:00 2014

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