Welcome to part #6 of our Raising Backyard Chickens series. Urban chicken raising is easier than you think! You can raise backyard chickens for eggs in a rural yard, suburb and even the city! Not to mention, it is a fun project for the whole family and a very rewarding one when you can enjoy farm fresh eggs – as fresh as possible! This is part of a series that will walk you through Raising Backyard Chickens step-by-step.
There are not that many dangers to chickens if you are keeping them in a coop and run in the city, but there are far more if they are free range in the country. This article will cover both situations and how to deal with them. (Note: I am against killing foxes/coyotes to keep them away from chickens. So if you’re looking for a “Best Ways To Exterminate The Local Chicken-Eating Wildlife” guide, you’re going to be gravely disappointed.)
Common City Dangers
This will cover things that could harm your chickens in a city setting where your chickens are confined to a coop and run most of the time.
They’re everywhere, aren’t they? And yes, they can be chicken predators. Usually they just steal eggs, but a very hungry rat will go for a chicken, or a broody hen can be injured while defending her eggs. Chances are if you have chickens, you will deal with rats at some point. I’ll tell you right now that lethal traps are largely ineffective, there are so many rats and eventually they will remember to avoid them. The only time trapping will work is if you have a single rat causing you trouble. Even then, why not try a live trap and relocate the rat? If you do this, make sure the place is at least a mile, preferably two miles away from your home so they don’t come back. What’s far more effective in most cases is making your coop unattractive to rats. If you think you have a rat problem, contain your chicken feed and bring it in at night instead of leaving it spread out. Gather your eggs at least once a day, preferable twice, so the rats don’t have time to take them. Keep the area around your coop relatively clean, don’t let rat living space pile up. Unfortunately deterrents do very little good for rats. They will tolerate scents that they hate for the sake of staying in a safe zone. The best you can do is clean up after your chickens, try and keep your area less friendly to rats overall.
They can and will grab a chicken’s head through the wire and twist it off. Crows aren’t that hard to keep away, though. If you start to have trouble, try a scarecrow and bird netting around the coop. As long as they can’t get their beaks to your chickens, you’re fine.
They appear even in a city setting, more often than not. But they’re not that hard to keep away if your chickens are not free ranging. Get raccoon-proof locks and sturdy wire to wrap the coop in that they can’t reach through if you suspect raccoon activity around your coop.
Free ranging chickens is a bit more dangerous. I’m not talking about letting the birds loose in a small backyard, I’m talking about letting them loose in a larger area of an acre or more.
Here are a few things you can do to prevent losses with free range:
- Raise the coop off the ground to prevent snakes, rats and other small animals from going under to steal eggs.
- Teach your chickens to go inside their coop at night, and after they do, close them in. Chickens shouldn’t be out at night in a country, free range setting.
- Make sure the mesh on your coop is too small for rats to get through or raccoons to reach their hands through.
- Make sure there is a roof on your coop and run, this will stop owls from attacking roosting chickens during the night.
- Get a rooster! Roosters are loud, yes, but they will also protect the hens to some extent and they are always on the lookout for predators. Hens run to shelter when an alarm is sounded.
- Provide plenty of high-up spots for chickens to spot predators from.
- Provide shelters around your property for the chickens to hide in, not just one.
- And finally, always fence your property. It won’t stop all predators, but it will help deter the larger ones, such as coyotes.
I think that’s about it!
This article was written by Erin, a pro at raising her own chickens and eggs in her family’sbackyard! She’s just a teen, but loves animals of all kinds and wants to be a veterinarian and is studying to do so. In addition to raising chickens, she raises ducks, geese and bunnies in her family’s urban backyard!
Be sure to check out the entire Egg Page with lots of tips on eggs (including raising the chickens for your own and the rest of this series!)