Raccoons and other predators are never welcome visitors in a chicken coop. Raccoons can eat your bird's feed, steal your eggs and may even prey on your adult birds. It is necessary that you do everything in your power to keep raccoons away from your chickens if you want to keep your birds healthy and happy.
Securing Your Chicken Coop
A secure chicken coop is a necessity when you want to keep your birds away from predators such as raccoons.
- A predator-proof chicken coop must have solid walls, solid floors and doors that are well-maintained. Some predators, such as rats, are capable of chewing through the walls, doors or floors of your chicken coop. Larger predators may use those holes to gain access to the coop. Check the condition of your chicken coop's walls and floors regularly to ensure they are in good shape. If any part of the coop is damaged, replace it immediately.
- For outdoor runs or chicken coops with dirt floors, bury hardware cloth or some other type of wire-mesh to prevent raccoons and other predators from digging their way in.
- If your chicken coop has doors or windows, close them at night. You may want to consider covering windows with hardware cloth or similar material to ensure no predators can come through.
- Outdoor runs should be fenced in using wire mesh fencing with small openings that a raccoon cannot fit through. The smaller the openings in the fence, the more effective it will be against predators. Make sure all the doors and windows on the coop have latches and locks that cannot be opened easily .
- Remember raccoons can climb. Your coop needs a roof, even if that roof is made of wire with openings that are too small for a raccoon to reach through.
- Consider installing a motion-activated light that will light up any time a predator approaches.
- Bring in any uneaten feed, including that of your domestic pets, before nightfall. Raccoons like easy meals and are not particularly picky eaters. Food that has been left out may attract them, as will unsecured garbage cans.
- Raccoons will steal and eat your chicken eggs. Collect your eggs daily to help reduce the temptation for a raccoon to break in.
Keep A Rooster in Your Flock
Roosters are the natural protectors of the hens in a flock. A rooster will crow to sound alarm when a predator approaches the coop. Some roosters even fight predators to protect their hens.
Repellents and Deterrents
An assortment of different products are available that claim to keep raccoons away. These products, which can be anything from electronic noise repellents to chemical based pellets or mothballs, may or may not work effectively to get rid of raccoons. Some repellents may contain ingredients that could be toxic to other animals. Use caution if you decide to use a raccoon repellent to keep predators away from your chickens. Discuss your options and the safety of any products with your veterinarian.
If you have a particularly pesky return visitor, consider contacting a professional wildlife removal service to have the animal trapped and removed.
- Poultry Hub: Rodent control
- Community Chickens: 10 Tips For Predator Proofing Chickens
- Wildlife Rescue Sonoma County: How To “Predator Proof” Your Domestic Animal Enclosures
- GRIT: 10 Basic Tips for Protecting Chickens from Predators
- Professional Wildlife Removal: Raccoon Repellent to Keep Them Away
- GRIT: Predators of Chickens and How to Protect Your Birds
- Canadian Federation of Humane Societies: Mice and Rats
- Extension: Predator Management for Small and Backyard Poultry Flocks
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: Living with Wildlife Raccoons
- Wildlife Education and Directory of Wildlife Experts: Raccoon Repellent Analysis
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.