This week is the beginning of a series that will explore the many predators that threatens the backyard chicken flock. Proper identification of the predatory threat is key to implementing the right solution to this problem and keeping your hens safe.
The first predator we will look at will be the masked bandit commonly known as raccoon, or scientifically speaking- procyon loter. This omnivorous creature can range in size from 23.5 in. to 37.5 in. and 4 to 23 lbs. In the wild, the raccoon lives an average of 2-3 years. If near water, they like to eat frogs and crayfish and other aquatic treats. On land, they will grab mice, insects and most applicably to us tasty eggs and sometimes the poultry themselves.
So, how do you know if it is a raccoon that is attacking your chickens? Well, if there is
a raccoon presence, look for tracks(like above)in sandy or muddy areas. If chickens have been attacked by raccoons, evidence could include severed heads dragged away from the body, birds pulled unsuccessfully pulled through enclosures, birds whose necks have been severely injured and ransacked nesting areas. http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/raccoons.html
Once you have identified the perpetrator, then you will be able to protect your coop properly. Raccoons are savvy predators but almost every predator is another animal’s prey. It is the natural, genetically programmed instinctual fear of a predator that makes a product like predator urine work as a natural, non-pesticidal repellent. So, what does the raccoon fear? Well, one of its most common predators is the coyote and thus the most logical predator urine to choose would be coyote urine. 100% coyote urine is available at predatorpee.com with various applicators available depending on your exact setup. All you need to do is make a pee-rimeter around the area you are trying to protect – in this case your coop or run.