I would guess that about half the baby poultry sold each spring is lost to predators well before they lay an egg. The most common predators in this area are dogs, coyotes, fox, raccoon and to a lesser extent skunks, possums, hawks, owls, and crows.
When you are building poultry housing, think about keeping predators out, rather than just keeping poultry in. Whatever building you use, you should be able to close it up tight. The windows should be covered with a small mesh hardware cloth to give air in warm weather. The common 2” chicken wire is not the strongest when you have a severe predator problem. Dogs and raccoons can easily rip down this casually tacked up wire. The same extends to the outside run. One inch chicken wire is a better choice, it is a little stronger and an even better choice is 1×2 or 2×4 fencing. The top of the run should be covered, and the 2” chicken wire is fine for this, be sure it is secure to the top of the fence as raccoons will work hard to find an opening. At ground level, the usual recommendation is to bury the wire a foot into the ground, which is easier said than done in our rocky ground. Lay a foot of wire on the ground before starting up the posts. On this apron of wire pile rocks, cement blocks, even heavy chunks of wood.
If you want your chickens to range free during the day keep food and water in the building, this will encourage the birds to go in at dusk to roost, then you can close the door when they are all in. You must be faithful on this as it takes only one night for a raccoon family to put you out of the chicken business. If you have several pens for poultry, you can surround them all with electric fencing, this is very effective and small inexpensive setups are available.
Can be housed same as chickens but if they are crowded their pen will quickly become a mess. They do well ranging during the day and penned at night. Baby ducks are easily picked off 1 or 2 a day by hawks or crows.
When they are small, they will need protection. Coyotes and dogs are about the only predators to take on adult geese. Any young waterfowl that go out on a pond can be killed or maimed by snapping turtles.
Are usually raised in large wire floored cages and in this environment are usually safe from predators.
Especially if you have more than one breed, and want to raise purebred chicks, they can be housed in smaller versions of the wire floored turkey cages. Make a strong frame, use small mesh wire and have a secure roosting area where raccoons can’t reach through the wire and grab them off the roost, and believe me a raccoon can get a full-grown bantam chicken through one inch wire. You may not think that you could have a predator problem, but it is nature and nature is out there. Dogs can be a big problem, sometimes even your own dog. Remember never underestimate a raccoon.
Provided by Creatures Corner reader John Stratton.
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