Coyotes eating our chickens!

xena_z4(WA z8b)July 21, 2005

We have our chickens in a coop house in a yard surrounded by chicken wire so they can run around outside. Lately, coyotes - or some other predator - has been digging under our fence at night, and stealing our chickens. First our one of two roosters, then our best layer, now our second best layer. Does anyone have a way to keep the coyotes out? Maybe a way to fortify our chicken yard? Even though the chickens don't cost much, it is getting frustrating to go out in the morning to find out another one has been taken. One more thing - we don't keep our dog out at night for two reasons: the coyotes around here have been known to hunt in packs and attack lone dogs, and there is a pack of about 12 or so timber wolves loose in this area. Any suggestions are much appreciated.



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Is there a way to lock the chickens up in the chicken house inside the fenced area at night? That is what we do, we have a wood floor and it is up off the ground so we can see under it all the way. If this is not an option, how about a hot fence (electric fence) around the bottom and top of your chicken wire fence? Ofcourse you know that they would need to be just high enough not to be grounded out by grass or what have you, chickens usually keep that down, at least mine do. And there would be the annoyance of trying not to get shocked when entering yourself, depending how your fence and house are situated. That is all I can think of, don't know if it would fit your situation. Hope it is helpful.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2005 at 7:19PM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Sonja, we dug a row of chicken wire about 18" into the ground all around the fenced run to help prevent critters from digging under the outdoor pen. We also have two chicken doors that we close up every night after dark so they are locked up tight. Here is a picture of our coop to give you an idea. I don't blame you for not wanting to keep your dogs out at night. Good luck :)


Here is a link that might be useful: coop

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 7:31AM
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Sheila, you are living the life you love. Don't let anyone talk you out of it. Great photos and thanks for sharing them. I hope you are writing some kind of book since your descriptions match your photos and are fun to read and look at.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 1:35PM
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hotzcatz(Hamakua, Hawaii)

Aloha Sonja,

Try running a line of barbed wire at the bottom of your chicken wire fence. That will keep burrowing critters out. Works with wild pigs and they are pretty persistant burrowers. We don't have any coyotes to practice on so I don't know if it would work specifically with them or not, but it might be worth a try.

A hui hou,

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 7:39AM
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We have an avairy type coop: 8x10 cement slab with an elevated and enclosed nesting boxes/ roost area (the whole floor area is open for them, they go up a ramp to get into the house/nest. The walls of the open air space is hard cloth, all framing is 2x4 bolted into the cement slab, the closed walls are marine plywood scaps and left over asphalt shingles for roof. We went this route because the dh is older (I figured I was getting only 1 chicken house out of him so it better be good!); we have alot of rain and many rodent type animals (rats, possum, raccoon, skunk), owls and hawks and the neighbor's dog seems to always find a way into our backyard in the evening. I know preditors can not get to 'the girls' at night because they are put up ... unless they can shift two bolts and open a door. When the weather is bad and the mud too much, they stay high and dry on the slab (and its easy to scrape clean with a square nose shovel) and put down pine shavings for warmth. They do get to come out in the afternoon (once the egg laying is done!) to free range the back. We have made 'storm' windows for the open air section by building frame using 2x4 and then adding a layer of chicken wire and white plasctic to insert during the storms; the chicken wire keeps the plastic from blowing in as that the plastic is between the hard cloth and the chicken wire when the storm window frame is inserted correctly.
I realize this might be overkill for many. Its what we had available in supplies and what we felt was required to keep the chickens healthy, alive and easy maintaince... I want to have chickens for a long time so it seemed logical to go this way and only do it only once. With the cost of cement these days, I don't even know if this would be a viable option even with using scrap materials!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 11:27AM
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maureen1953(Z4 Central NY)

After the sun goes down and the chickens all go into their chicken house to roost, we close and lock them in till the morning. Anytime we have forgotten or gotten lax about it we have lost chickens to racoons, coyotes, whatever. We recently set up a chick house with chickenwire fence around it and found cats climbing over the fence in daylight and killing chicks. We then put a single strand of solar powered electric wire around the top perimeter of the fence and that stopped that. Then we found a red tailed hawk pulling apart one of our chicks in the chick yard....had to net the top of the entire chick yard, which we should have done from the beginning. (kicking self here)
As far as your question goes, locking them up at night in a secure henhouse is the best route.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 12:09PM
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judyag_44(SW FL)

We were having a similar problem......the burrowing under the fence sounds like raccoons to me. Believe you need to tunnel down from your fence and install a wire barrier below ground level....think welded wire is best for this.

Our solution has worked wonderfully. We got two Great Pyrenees dogs. They work all night and have not had a loss since we got the second one. Believe a pack of coyotes or some foxes were drawing the one off at times while the others raided so we had to get the second one. They bring in dead bodies to prove they are doing their job! AND, few things are prettier than the sight of those two big dogs going silently to work when the coyotes start "singing" close by!

Also, though they are very large dogs their upkeep is relatively not eat us out of house and home.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 10:52AM
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madspinner(z7 WA skagit)

We have plenty of coyotes around during the day as well. Our 3 dogs (two are pretty small, but as a group they stay safe) keep them away during the day and into the early night, but they all come in at night.

We have a llama to gaurd the sheep.

And the chicken coop is set up to be pretty secure. The chickens have access to an outer lightly fenced (the chickens can fly over it in a pinch) yard during the day. At night they go in to roost and we lock up the inner dog run that has burried wire around the edges, and chicken wire on top to keep out climbers. That is about as secure as I bother to get, but if I were really worried, I could lock them inside their actuall wooden coop as well, as there is a door that locks from the inside. I don't bother with that anymore.

Also, our coop is right out our bedroom window, so if there is any kind of disturbance, we wake imeadiately and check it out. When I forgot to lock them in and the opossum got in, we were out there FAST.

I've been lucky enough to not have lost any chickens... yet. My biggest fear is hawks and eagles, as we have many here (I love watching them) and they spend most of the day out in the open. But I'm a sucker... and they love it so. I just can't say no.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 9:26PM
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We have 4 Great Pyrenees dogs. 2 for our sheep and 2 for the chickens. We have the dogs inside the chicken yard so the hawks dont swoop down and grab them. We have tons of coyotes. I dont mind them, they usally stay away. There also a little field on the west end of my property and we see coyotes there everyday. i take 5 dogs for a run, 4 Great Pyrenees and my siberian husky and the dogs want to chase them. coyotes take off and they usally dont come anywhere near the house or barn. O and JudyAG_44 can I see some of those pictures of the animals. My GPs dont bring anything home but my husky sure does. lol Thanks my email THanks and good luck.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2006 at 10:38PM
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We have outdoor chicken pens: Small wood roosting sheds with open end facing south with a chicken run, sided and roofed with chicken wire. For flooring we salvage large 8 x 3 ft. pallets. We knock the boards off one side, and reset them close together. This we use as flooring under our pen. They also hose off nicely and provide a raised floor entrance-way at the pen door. This keeps us and the chickens out of the mud in wet weather. We open the doors during the day and let them free range during the day: They put themselves up to roost at night and we just make the rounds and lock their doors.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 9:27PM
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I tried to raise pheasants...50 of them. I kept them in a cyclone fenced dog run with an opening into a horse stall where they could roost. It's hard to count and keep track of 50 pheasants but I began to notice I had fewer and fewer so I chicken wired the horse stall and covered the top of the dog run with heavy wire fencing. The predation continued...each day I'd see fewer and fewer pheasants but never find feathers or dead birds. I felt bad because it became obvious I was corraling these birds so they could be easily eaten by varmints of some sort. I was at my wits end...I couldn't find any entrance or indication of what was eating them.

To make a long story short...a neighbor kid was helping and looked over the pheasant pen and found a few loose hairs...raccoons! They levered a section of screen loose and slipped in under it and apparently out of it with a pheasant a night in their mouths. Those are nasty critters and responsible for basically wiping out our pheasants. I finally gave the last 6 pheasants away and was glad to be rid of any additional guilt and frustration of trying to protect them.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 11:44AM
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When burying your chicken wire into the ground, go 18" or so into the ground and then bend the wire to form an L shape so that a persistent digger digs into the "crotch" of the L and gets no where fast. Otherwise, some animals will dig under your wire even if its two or more feet deep.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 11:47PM
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ruthieg__tx(z8 TX)

I agree with the L shape when burying the really works good....or better yet...wire the whole bottom of the run....I hate racoons...they are such predators...If you have them in your area the only thing that will stop them is wire covering everything or a bullet....yeah a bullet...and after losing about 20 hens, I don't have the least little bit of guilt about the bullet.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 10:37AM
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lost 7 chickens a few weeks back to roving coyotes... lost one a few days ago... lost some pullets to raccoons,, the pullets were in our plastic dog kennel with a 2 inch wire door... they simply put their hands through the mess and grabbed the pullets and sucked them out, resourceful critters...
today the chickens were swanking and a coyote was chasing a shot at him but missed.....
what are the best flying chickens... need some that can fly high in the trees and stay clear of the coyotes. thanks info....

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 4:06PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Smaller chicken tend to fly better, but that means less meat and smaller eggs. A small breed of goose or a small breed of duck might work as well, muscovies if you are after meat. Nothing will beat a good with maintained fence however.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 6:22AM
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get a few more muts, left slightly hungry at night. This will keep away four leg and two leg preditors.

For the four legged ones that get by, the buried wire fence aught to slow them down long enough for the dogs to rouse.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 2:26PM
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I lost a chicken once to a coon, two days later I had it in a trap. Both my husband and i trap so we tend to keep the local populaton of predators in check a bit. Our fencing is not buried, we use the heavier stuff than chicken wire though. Dont lock ours in at night either. Guess I've just been lucky.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 11:43PM
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gourd_friends(z5/6 IL)

We're getting ready to build a chicken coop, and are also concerned about the predators, (mainly coyotes) in the area. Your advice will help us, too.

we loved the picture of your chicken coop, but its your dog that got our attention. It looks just like our dog!!
I will try to post a picture here when we have our chicken coop built....with Skippy in the photo. I can't believe that they look so much alike!


    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 12:12AM
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chicken wire is for keeping chickens in. Not for keeping predators out. I have chainlink around my chicken wire. I also have the top covered in a heavy gage small holed chicken wire. Wire is also buried several inches deep and flared outward to prevent digging things.

After dark the coop is locked tight.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 5:02PM
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I too have just lost most of my free range chickens this year. Today we lost 4 all at the same time. Each day, for the past week we lost one but then we'll have a few days and everythings fine. We let ours out in the am and coop them up by 8 pm each night. I know we take a risk, but I love having the chickens roaming around on my property. They have become such a part of the landscape and I have become attached. I know, you don't get attached to chickens, but I did. I wish I could catch one of these coyotes but they just sneak in so fast. Even when I'm home and our Black Lab is outside all day. Any new ideas for next year? I only have 3 chickens, 1 Banty rooster and a mallard left.
Heartbroken in Minnesota.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 12:42AM
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Interesting. Up here wolves usually don't tolerate coyotes. Whe the wolves are depleted or hunted to near extinction, the more adaptable coyote moves into the niche.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 5:31AM
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There are only two ways, harden the chicken area so that nothing can get in, or enlist an effective animal guard. If you have the appropriate fencing, a donkey is worth considering. Donkeys have an unrelenting hatred of anything dog-like and are quite capable of dealing with coyotes and probably even a wolf or two, although I would think it unlikely that wolves would venture that close to the house. And donkeys can't be fooled by coyotes, who have been known to befriend the farm dog and be allowed the run of the place.

Of course, it may not be coyotes right at the moment. Several animals will kill or kill and eat chickens, but each has certain characteristics that pretty much tell you which one it is, or at least some that it is not. If the chicken is gone, not eat on right there or nearby, it's not possums, skunk, weasel, or raccoon. They all kill multiples, eat only parts, or aren't big enough to carry them off. A fox will carry one off to eat it. Donkeys hate foxes, too.

It would be very informative to spread a bed of fine sand around at night to see what tracks are left or to use a game camera. What's for sure is that, having had a taste of chicken, whatever it is will keep coming back.

And one more thought. Something digs under the fence sometimes. You see where it dug when you miss a chicken and look for evidence. But it doesn't mean the digger is the chicken thief. Owls will readily take chickens. I have seen an owl so full of chickens that he could no longer get out of the coup.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 1:34PM
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put up a $15 harbor freight motion/driveway alarm, and when the buzzer sounds, get the gun and shoot the four legged offender! Maybe even put some cat food beside the coop to get them in the spot you want them.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 8:54PM
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One low wattage light bulb at the pen stopped my predator problem in it's tracks.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2011 at 5:19PM
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