If you keep chickens in your backyard, you know it’s important to protect your coop from predators. But protecting your herd from raccoons is a bit more challenging than protecting them from other predators because raccoons are so smart.
Raccoons are more than smart. They can also climb and dig very well and they use their front paws like we humans use our hands, which is creepy and funny. Chicken coops are a prime target for raccoons because they know it is a relatively easy source of prey. Without your help, your chicken is no match for a raccoon.
How Raccoons Hunt
When a raccoon gets into a chicken coop, it will usually kill a few birds if it can reach them. Corpses would usually be left where they were killed, and not taken away. Instead of eating the whole bird or even most of it, the raccoon usually eats the bird’s innards and sometimes part of the breast.
Raccoons have incredible manual dexterity and can open hooks and covers, dig under fences and run, and reach their human-like claws through wire nets that are too small to fit on their bodies. To keep the raccoons out of your chicken coop so your flock is safe, you’ll need to outsmart the furry masked bandits.
Keeping Your Chicken Coop Safe
Raccoons can be found almost everywhere in the United States so don’t think you’re lucky and don’t have one. As nocturnal animals, raccoons do most of their hunting at night when they are camouflaged by their distinct coats. If you’re like most people who raise chickens, you probably put your flock back in the coop at night for safekeeping, that’s when the sneaky, sneaky raccoons come out! Here are some steps you can take to keep your chicken coop safe from raccoons.
Make Your Page Less Attractive to Raccoons
To lower the chances of a raccoon finding your chickens, make your yard less attractive to animals. You can do this by making sure the raccoons can’t reach any wild bird feeders you have or even the seeds on the ground. If you have other animals such as dogs or cats, don’t leave pet food outside. The same goes for the water plate as raccoons are attracted to water sources. In short, don’t leave anything out that the raccoon might be interested in.
Secure Wire Mesh in Your Cage
Any wire netting you have in your cage should be secured as the raccoon will try to bend it or pull it out so they can gain access. Look for weak areas or places where the wire mesh is not properly attached. Think like a predator and look for weak points that can be penetrated.
Instead of using thin chicken wire that the raccoon can penetrate, use something more durable like a hard cloth with a fine mesh that the raccoon can’t reach. Keep in mind that chicken wire is designed to hold chickens in the coop and not to repel predators.
Use a Latch that is Hard to Open
Raccoons are smart and can open a simple latch without a problem. However, they usually don’t spend time trying to figure out how to open complex latches. Use the latch on your cage that takes two or three steps to unlock.
The most popular two-step systems include applying a carabiner clip to the door latch. By adding a carabiner, the raccoon must open the carabiner as well as remove it from the latch to gain access to the latch itself.
Surround the Cage Area with Foul Smell
Raccoons don’t like the smell of ammonia, garlic, cayenne pepper, and onions. You can keep the critters out of your coop by soaking a cloth in ammonia and placing the cloth in your yard around your chicken coop.
You can also spray the outside of the cage with a homemade raccoon repellent. Boil a gallon of water, add a few cloves of garlic, a few onions, or a few chilies. Then simply put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray it around your chicken coop. Make sure the repellent has a strong smell so it will definitely keep the raccoons away.
Attach Cage Apron
If the raccoons can’t tear the chicken wire or get through the door latch, they may be trying to get into your coop. That’s why you should install a cage apron. This involves installing several PVC-coated rolled wire fencing at the base of the enclosure all around. This is easier to do than burying the fence material a foot deep in the ground and is not an expensive project to undertake.
Install Predator Prevention Lights in the Cage
Raccoons are very aware of their surroundings and are always on the lookout for danger. That’s why it’s a good idea to install a predator deterrent light in your cage. This type of light emits two bright red LED lights that look like predatory eyes. The lamp should be placed at eye level for the raccoon so that it is easily visible and looks like a dangerous predator.
When you follow these steps to secure your coop, your chickens should be safe from raccoons. If you’re still having trouble with raccoons trying to get into your enclosure, find out if it’s legal in your state to humanely trap and move raccoons.
If trapping and moving the raccoons humanely is allowed, throw some marshmallows behind the humane live animal trap and place them in your yard. When you trap a raccoon, move it to a wooded area a few miles from your property. If it’s not legal to do so, contact a wildlife rescue or animal control organization in your area to see what your options are.
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