Predator protection for your flock is important no matter where you are located but it can be especially essential if you live in an area with lots of potential predators. Our farm is located in a fairly remote area near a nature preserve so we have a significant amount of wildlife around at all times, including larger predators like coyotes and bears.
Consider placing locks or latches on any accessible doors, windows, and outside nesting boxes in your coop. Certain predators like raccoons can be very skilled at getting into entry points on your coop. When we had coops located outside of our runs, we used latches secured with carabiners to lock windows and coop doors at night.
We now have runs constructed entirely of hardware cloth rather than chicken wire to prevent predators from getting into our runs. We use “skirts” of hardware cloth surrounding the perimeter of the runs to prevent digging under the coops. So far, the hardware cloth has prevented any unwanted entries into our chicken runs at night. All of our runs are secured with gate latches that are located about 4 feet from ground level.
In addition to secure coops and runs, we utilize a number of predator deterrents that are intended to keep predators away from the area where our chicken runs are located.
We currently use three different types of predator deterrent lights. Overall, the most effective lights we have found are Foxlights Solar lights. The offer two styles of lights – we use the type that you can place on top of a fence t-post (shown in the first thumbnail photo below). We have these lights placed on the fence that surrounds the area where our chicken runs are located. Foxlights are particularly effective because you can relocate them easily to different fence posts and they flash random patterns of different colored lights. This seems to create a greater deterrent effect than a single blinking light, which can be learned over time by potential predators. Foxlights are solar powered, which is another plus. Ours have lasted over a year so far with no issues.
We also use Night Gaurd predator lights placed around our runs. These are also solar powered and can be mounted directly to a coop or run. For us, they offer a second layer of protection around our coops.
We also use motion-activated solar lights around our coop areas. These lights provide continuous low-level lighting once it gets dark and a spotlight-like bright light when motion in the surrounding area activates them. Any light can be a deterrent for potential predators but the sudden beam of bright light when they get in close proximity to the chicken area is definitely helpful. We use these lights because they are reasonably priced and they can be relocated as necessary, plus they are solar powered so no worrying about electricity or dead batteries.
We do not currently use sound around our coops but we know several farms that use sound and find it to be a very effective deterrent. One of the most common methods of using sound is to play music from a radio near your coops or barn at night. Predators are less likely to approach when they believe there is human activity nearby.
Some farmers also swear by scent deterrents. You can purchase scent deterrents like wolf urine to place around the perimeter of your chicken area. Some people also place human urine outside their chicken area. Scent deterrents can be very effective but the downside of scent deterrents is they have to reapplied frequently as they wear off and become less effective as time passes.
It is also important to make sure all feed and eggs are securely stored and inaccessible to wildlife. Having food sources located around coops will attract wildlife and cause potential predators to identify your chicken area as a food source.
On our farm, we have a livestock guardian dog, a young Anatolian Shepherd, who is still in the training process but has already proven to be a great asset to our farm and a wonderful dog. Our LGD does not permanently reside in our chicken area. However, he is able to patrol the entire property, including the area surrounding our chicken area. He is quite effective at keeping predators at bay and prevented at least one coyote attack (that we know of) earlier this year.
In addition to dogs, some farms use other livestock guardians such as donkeys to protect their livestock and flocks. We have found that allowing our goats to roam around during the day with our free range roosters has been helpful to prevent daytime predator attacks including bird attacks.