Raccoons are found throughout the United States and dwell in every setting, from rural farmland and woods to suburban areas, including New York City. Nicknamed the “super predator,” these masked creatures will do just about anything to get a meal, including scaling the tallest fences, unlatching and opening coop doors, and eating resting poultry through chicken wire.
Protecting our flocks from becoming victims of predator attacks should be one of the poultry owner’s biggest priorities. But how do you keep your flock from falling prey to your neighborhood raccoons?
The best way to prevent raccoons from attacking your flock is by predator-proofing your coop and run. Raccoons are extremely intelligent, take care to cover any opening larger than 1/2 inch.
When protecting your flock from raccoons, no measure is too extreme. So, let’s get started predator-proofing!
Like children, raccoons love to climb, and they will use their human-like hands to scale any fence or tree. Raccoons aren’t scared of heights and will scale the highest fences for their meal. Covering the top of your run with 1/2-inch, 16-gauge PVC heavy wire will keep raccoons from gaining access to the run through the roof.
Another way to prevent raccoons from turning your run into their playground is by locking your birds in a coop or barn every day before dusk. If predators can’t see the poultry, they are less likely to try to gain access to the run. Even if poultry are locked in an enclosure at night, care should be taken to cover the top of the run with PVC-coated 1/2-inch, 16-gauge hardware cloth to protect the flock from daytime and nocturnal predators.
Raccoons are excellent at chewing and biting through chicken wire, tearing a big enough hole to squeeze through, and gaining access to the coop and run. Another downside to chicken wire is that the 1-inch hole is big enough for a raccoon to reach their paw through, grab resting chickens and eat them through the fence.
Covering runs and any gaps larger than 1/2 an inch with PVC-coated 1/2-inch, 16-gauge hardware cloth is the best way to prevent raccoons from chewing and biting the wire or grabbing unsuspecting hens. Also, cover any window or screens with 1/2-inch hardware cloth to prevent raccoons from ripping screens to gain access to the coop or barn.
While raccoons are less skilled at digging than they are with climbing and chewing, they can still gain access to the coop or run by digging underneath the perimeter. Building a structure with a cement floor or purchasing a cement slab to rest your coop on is one of the best ways to protect your flock.
With a sturdy cement floor, there is no need to worry about predators digging or chewing through the floor to gain access to your flock. Even though many poultry keepers prefer more cost-effective wood flooring, the peace of mind with a cement floor is worth every penny.
Attaching PVC-coated 3/4-inch 16-gauge hardware cloth to the bottom outside perimeter of your coop and run will prevent digging predators from accessing your flock. These predator skirts are one of the best ways to keep raccoons out and your flock safe.
Lock the Doors
Unlike any other predator, raccoons are so intelligent they can unlock and open coop and barn doors. Many poultry owners prefer to use something different than bolt and hook-and-eye locks, as raccoons can easily open these fasteners. Using padlocks to secure all doors, including pop holes and nesting boxes, is the only way to prevent raccoons from accessing the coop through a door.
Even though raccoons are one of the biggest threats to backyard flocks, extreme measures to eradicate them from your backyard are not usually necessary. However, some deterrents can help deter them from visiting your backyard.
Raccoons dislike wind chimes, so hanging some around or near your coop and run is one of the best ways to deter raccoons from visiting your coop and run.
Having your dog tag along with you as you do chores is another way to deter raccoons. If a raccoon smells that a dog frequents the area, they are less likely to visit.
Spreading predator urine around the perimeter of the coop or run can prevent raccoons from wanting to inhabit the area.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
Unfortunately, many chickens fall prey to predator attacks due to several common chicken-keeping practices, including:
- Allowing poultry to free-range, especially at dawn or dusk
- Failing to lock poultry in a predator-proofed coop and run at night
- Leaving feeders and spilled feed in the run or coop at night
A raccoon attack can happen during daylight or at night, so always be on your guard. Protecting your flock from a raccoon attack is possible with some know-how and common sense. Remember, no protection is too extreme when protecting your flock from raccoons and other predators.