Now, common sense says COVER the coop and lay down hardware cloth on the floor AND the skirt. That’s all good and well except for those of us who have TOO big of an area to cover. We have one particular fox who is very sly he or she thinks. Although, it has yet (that we know of) got into our back yard flock area.
THE DIGGERS- Foxes, skunks, coyotes, can dig under the fence and coop in MINUTES.
This is where the skirting at the fence line comes in for your first line of defense. Surround the chicken fence with skirting. OK WAIT!! I need to back up here for a moment. I am assuming you have a smaller area fenced in already. Such as the picture below that we have.
We have this fence on both sides of our back yard. The only difference is we stood the pallets all upright on the far side for more height and there is no usable gate “yet”. We have one up and attached with the fence but it is not hinged. It is also covered as well as all of the pallet fencing in 1/4 inch hardware cloth. Pictures below.
Is it perfect? No. But it’s better than doing absolutely NOTHING. Right? We have a RESPONSIBILITY as animal owners to PROTECT them as much as possible. In return they give back to us in the way God made them to do so.
Ok, back to the “SKIRTING“. Surround the chicken fencing with a 2 foot wide apron of 1/4” hardware cloth. Mow or weed eat as much of the grass as possible. Believe me it will make this so much easier to do. We use strong landscape staples to hold them into place. Eventually the wire will go down into the ground and no predator is going to dig through metal. Well they say wolves will… another blog?
You can also bury the hardware cloth straight down 12-18 inches deep into the ground. We live in a rocky area and this is not timely feasible for us. You do what you need or feel like is best for you and your flock.
I want to ensure the foxes and coyotes can’t get in but if they do or something does they aren’t getting INTO the coops. (snakes are another thing I’ll cover that, too).
With that being said let me explain to you what kind of coops I have presently and what our plans are in the VERY near future to help with PREDATORS.
We bought a prefab coop. I’m not TOO impressed with it but we had to work with it at the time. As they hens grew bigger and bigger we added the BIGGER run on the opposite side of the coop. This made me feel better because I knew they had enough room to move around and not be crowded. Notice the top is covered with chicken wire. I have their food on the prefab side of the coop because we had already added 1/4 hardware cloth on the bottom of the whole “run”. Nope it did not come with a bottom.
On the back side of coop where the cows are in the field their are three fences. One is a chain link, the one closet to the girls. The next one is barbed wire and the third is electric fencing. We have not added any skirting under all of that, YET. But will in the future I’m sure.
Every morning I let the ladies out to free range in the back yard. In a couple more weeks we are going to start letting our “teenagers” out with them. Once they can fend for themselves against the bigger girls. We tried it a couple of weeks ago but it was too early for the teenie boppers just yet. Ok back on track to predator proofing. The prefab coop the teens are in is an extended run package. At the moment we have 6 birds in there. Two of them are Pearl Guineas that is the only reason it is crowded in that one but they help with the comfort at night time and they alert us if something isn’t “right”. Again, that is for another blog. We did not put a hardware cloth bottom on the run the teens. I wanted them to be able to forage and scratch and we have the whole cage securely attached to the fence behind them so nothing can tip it over. We are learning as we grow just like you and everyone else. I believe NO ONE should ever stop LEARNING.
Future plans and I mean in the VERY near future. We are building one BIG coop for all the birds to roost together at night. This will be made from pallets and metal roofing. Make sure you keep checking in to catch the upgrades.
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