5 Tips to Keep Wildlife Out of Chicken Coops

A hen
Backyard hens will attract wildlife in all ecosystems, making preventative measures vital.
Photo by mirceax / Getty Images

Raising hens in a backyard is popular in rural, suburban, and even dense rural regions. Regardless of location, backyard hens will attract wildlife. While being 100% wildlife proof isn’t tenable, there are many ways to secure coops to prevent native species from accessing hens. Here’s a few tips:

1 Swap chicken wire for metal fabric. Chicken wire is easy to work with and keeps hens in, but it does little to keep predatory animals out of coops. Steel fabric is welded and comes with smaller spacing, making it more durable against many species.

2 Skirt the coop. Adding an underground skirt prevents animals who are adept diggers (which is many of them) from getting underneath the fencing in place. Premade products are available, but DIYers can rely on metal fabric at an appropriate depth.

3 Get to know the neighbours and expect visitors. While a backyard is your private space, ecosystems don’t recognize property lines. Backyard hens will attract wildlife, and knowing what species live in your ecosystem can help you develop preventative strategies for your coop.

4 Keep deterrents fresh. If you’re using deterrents like predator eyes, motion activated lights or sprinklers, or traditional scarecrows/owl statues, make sure you regularly rotate them in and out of service. Animals are clever and will learn, with time, that some deterrents won’t cause them harm. Swapping out or repositioning deterrents help keep them effective.

5 Don’t blame the wildlife. Animals of all species are trapped, maimed, and sometimes killed by well-meaning homeowners who want to protect their backyard coops. This immense suffering is entirely preventable by focusing on non-lethal deterrents and mitigation strategies.

There are many other strategies, including electric fencing and pre-fabricated structures that can help depending on your specific circumstances. If you’re thinking of beginning a backyard chicken coop or are looking for advice, we encourage you to visit the BC SPCA’s “Thinking of keeping backyard chickens? feature by clicking here.

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