In every backyard chicken owner’s journey, they will experience an encounter with a chicken predator at least once.
That’s why we chicken owners need to be one step ahead of the opposition. Identifying what their likely entry points and behaviors are, and making the necessary arrangements to keep our chooks safe!
However, one type of behavior that some chicken owners underestimate is the ability of the predator to dig under any fences or barriers around chicken coops.
So, whether you’ve just had a close encounter with a digging predator, or are just wanting to predator-proof your coop, here’s how to keep predators from digging under your chicken coop!
Determine The Predator
Before making any preparations or adjustments to your coop, it helps to first identify what potential predators your chickens have based on your area and environment.
Here are just some of the very capable and determined predators that will try to dig under any fencing or chicken wire:
- Wild or Feral Cats
If you’re really serious about identifying your chicken’s predators you can even install a night vision camera near the coop to see what kind of animals come around – and to keep a close eye on your flock.
Install A Predator Apron
Once you have a good idea of what potential predators you’ll be up against it’s time to take action.
The most reliable way to prevent predators from digging under your chicken coop and getting inside is to install some kind of predator apron.
A predator apron simply refers to any protective material placed around the outside of your chicken coop, normally buried vertically beneath it or laid flat against the ground.
In both cases, a predator apron prevents any animal from physically being about to dig through it and into the coop, so long as it’s laid deep enough or laid out far enough.
The best material to use for predator aprons depends on your installation method, either burying or laying it on the ground on the entire perimeter of your coop.
Welded or galvanized steel is usually the most durable, but industrial-strength tarpaulin, cloth, or wire can be used if you plan on burying it.
How To Install A Predator Apron Around Your Coop
In most cases, laying welded or galvanized steel around the perimeter of your coop is the easiest option to stop any potential predators from digging under it.
Here are the key steps to successfully installing a predator apron around your coop:
- Get your material ready
- Be sure it measures out at least 15-24 inches from the entire perimeter of the coop.
- Lay the fencing material around the chicken coops base,
- Use a staple gun, or any other way to permanently affix the material to the coop.
- Then, use zip ties or strong nylon to affix the sections of the material to each other.
- Repeat the process for the entire perimeter of the coop, being sure no gaps are left and it becomes one unit.
- Although the grass and surrounding earth will eventually grow over the steel, feel free to bury it in a thin layer of dirt to assist and disguise.
- If predators try to dig from anywhere around your coop they will hit the steel and will be unable to continue.
For a full thorough guide check out Lonestar Coops Video Tutorial.
If you are planning to bury a predator apron instead of laying it against the ground then be sure to dig the trench and bury your material at least 15 inches deep.
Try Motion Sensor Lights
A good way to protect your chickens from predators is to discourage predators from approaching the coop in the first place.
As we know, 99% of the time predator attacks and interactions happen at night. All of these predators use the cover of night to their advantage.
One highly effective deterrent to predators from getting too close to your chicken coop is to install motion sensor lights.
When any potential predator comes too close to your coop, the motion sensor lights turn on. Most of the time this scares away any potential predators!
Although it’s not entirely predator-proof. Some predators can learn that there are no consequences when the lights come on and continue anyway.
Be sure to take other precautions, but motion sensor lights can help to deter predators.
How To Further Deter Predators And Keep Your Chickens Safe
Sure, having a predator apron and installing some flashing lights will certainly help prevent predators from digging under your chicken coop. But, they aren’t the only means to protect your chooks.
There are some easy methods to help keep them away from your property entirely, as well as further protect your chooks in the process.
By keeping your coop and property clean and clear of scraps, elevating your coop, and shutting your chicken’s coop at night, your chickens will be that much more secure, and predators will be much less likely to come around!
Keep Your Coop & Property Clean
As simple as it sounds, keeping your coop and the surrounding area of your property clean and clear of debris does wonders for the safety of your chooks.
Remove any leftover scraps, food, or other rubbish. Scavenging predators are attracted to the smells these leave behind and will they may actually be encouraged to enter your property.
Clear any debris and mow your lawn to an acceptably low level. Predators like snakes, foxes, weasels, etc. all prefer to hide in long grass or in and amongst the debris.
Don’t leave anything to chance.
A clean and clear property discourages predators more than you think and even keeps pests like rodents away too.
Elevate The Coop
If you’re really sick of predators trying to dig under your coop and you’re really concerned about the safety of your flock you can always opt to elevate your coop.
This means, setting a block of wood, concrete, stone, or anything on the base of your chicken coop to literally prevent any possibility of access from the ground.
Of course, this is harder to do on an already established coop. But for any new builds or plans, it’s certainly something to keep front of mind.
Shut Your Chickens Coop At Night
We all know how important it is to shut your chicken run at night. But, it’s just as important to actually shut your chicken’s coop at night too, after your chickens have put themselves to bed.
Many chicken owners simply think shutting their run is enough. But, shutting your actual coop at night will protect your chickens from any predators who manage to get into the run!
A secure and reinforced coop is the primary defense against any kind of predator, don’t get me wrong.
But, so many predators are so cunning and determined that they will try to dig from all angles to try to get into your coop.
If you know your area has these kinds of predators or you’ve seen them lurking around, take action NOW.
Install a predator apron around your coop, install motion sensor lights, and take all the precautions to deter these kinds of predators away.
Don’t give them the chance!