All summer, I’ve been debating letting my chickens free-range, but I have a single question; How do I keep my chickens off my porch and deck? So I found the top 10 ways to keep chickens off a deck, patio, or cement block.
10 Ways To Keep Chickens Off Your Porch!
- Identify What attracts your chickens to the porch
- Move Your Chicken Coop Away From Restricted Areas
- Keep feedings away from your deck and porch
- Raise the stakes or perching options
- Train chickens to stay off your porch
- Use motion activated sprinklers to keep chickens off the patio
- Use fake predators
- Use a training animal
- Fence off restricted areas
- Use spices and plants to repel chickens
Those steps may sound easy, but some of them take a lot more time to implement than others. Keep reading and I’ll discuss the time and effectiveness of each step.
Identify The Attraction to The Porch
Chickens have basic instincts and usually, it’s an instinct that drives your chickens to your patio. The three basic instincts of a chicken are survival, comfort, and food. Survival includes reproduction. Chickens have many reasons for seeking out your porch or deck.
Decks are closer to human activity and so chickens are often better protected from birds of prey and other predators when they are on the patio. Your deck may offer a shaded place for several hours a day.
Another reason is that chickens quickly realize where their food comes from. Even if you have free-range chickens that only need to be fed during colder months, they know that you are the source of their food.
Plus, the optimal perching options that decks and porches usually have. Consider the chairs, rails, BBQ grill, and other high places that chickens can perch. Once you’ve identified likely reasons that your chickens love your porch, you can start to address the problem.
- Porches offer high perching
- Protection from predators
- Close proximity to humans
- Protection from the elements
Move Your Chicken Coop Away From Restricted Areas
Even free-range chickens should be cooped up at night to help protect them from predators. In the country, these predators range from weasels and minks to raccoons, foxes or coyotes. In the city, chicken predators are often neighborhood cats or dogs.
According to Jennifer Cook, the small acreage management coordinator at Colorado State University Extension, free-range birds need 10 square feet of space per bird to forage.
That means that if you have 5 birds, you need 50 square feet of space for your girls and if you have 12 birds, you need 120 feet. If your coop is closer to forbidden areas than that, it will be a lot harder to keep your girls away.
Of course, chickens like to roam and the more comfortable they get with a specific area, the farther they will go. Yet, it helps to keep your coop away as it will be nearly impossible to keep them off your porch if your coop is in close proximity to it.
- Keep your chicken coop at least 10 sq feet per chicken away from the house and living areas
Keep Feedings Away From Your Porch
It can be super tempting to train your chickens to come running when you come outside or when you issue a specific call.
But, if you train your chickens to come to your call, then they are much more likely to seek the places that get them closer to you. That means they are more likely to seek you on your porch, in your garage, and on your deck.
It is vital that you limit feeding your chickens to places away from your deck and porch. This trains your chickens to go to specific areas for food instead of seeking you out. Chickens are naturally social so they will want to seek you out anyway.
Don’t encourage them to flock around your living areas by feeding them as soon as you get outside unless you don’t care about them gathering, perching, and pooping on your deck and patios. It is more convenient than keeping feed nearby, but it will save you hours of cleanup in the months ahead.
Another note; Don’t offer dog or cat food on your porch or deck either. This will attract your chickens as well and make it hard to keep them off.
- Keep food off the porch. This includes chicken food, edible plants, and other animal food.
Raise The Stakes, er Perching Options
Chickens love to compete for the highest perch and the best view. Roosting high up helps your chickens watch out for predators and get a good vantage point. Even domesticated chickens love to roost high up.
Your chickens may be attracted to your porch because it offers the best perching options. That often means perching in your fruit trees, on your porch, or atop your car. Make those things less appealing by offering your chickens better perching options closer to the coop.
If you already have a perching problem on your deck rail, then offer a better perch close to the deck. Gradually move the perches away from the deck and close to the coop.
This helps to train your chickens to perch on something other than your patio rails or bike. Combine this with efforts to make your porch rails less attractive. Hang plants off your rails or add other decor to take up space on your rails.
- Offer better perching options and move it away from the deck over time
- Provide deterrents for chickens who still want to roost on the porch rails
Train Your Chickens To Stay Off The Porch
Chickens can be trained to stay off the porch or cement. There are many ways to train a chicken, but two very effective ways to train a chicken to stay off of something.
This training can be through negative consequences or positive consequences.
Keeping your feedings away from your porch and deck are a way of providing positive reinforcement. But it may not solve the entire problem. There are a few safe ways to provide chickens with negative reinforcement to stay off your porch.
- Water spray
- Yelling and scaring them away
- Other fighting visuals
Chickens can be trained, but it takes time and consistency. If you only sporadically provide the motivation to leave your porch, then you will be “training” your chickens forever. This means that you need to stay home and available to train your chickens for the first little while. You must keep a watchful eye on your ladies and respond promptly.
How do you train a chicken? Decide the boundary that you want to keep your chickens away. This could be the cement patio, it could be the bottom step of your deck, or it could be the flower beds around your porch. Choosing a specific boundary is important because it helps you stay consistent.
Keep a hose near your porch, or deck, and every time a chicken crosses the boundary, spray them and say “stay off my porch!” When chickens get the consistent response of water, it trains them to stay off the porch. Often, with consistency, the older hens will start keeping younger chicks away from the forbidden area.
Scaring them away is another method of training. This involves yelling and waving your arms to shoo them off the deck everytime they get on it. You can use a broom that you wave (without hitting them) or a large bright cloth to frighten them.
This method takes a little more time than water because you physically have to chase them off the deck, but it keeps your patio from getting soaked. As you chase them away, keep the command consistent such as “shoo!” or “Get Off!”
Eventually, you will be able to command them off and will be able to convince them to hang out somewhere else.
Use Motion-Activated Sprinklers To Keep Chickens Off Your Porch
If you don’t have time to train your chickens or the desire to do so, consider a motion activated sprinkler to do the job for you. Motion activated sprinklers use infrared light to detect motion. You can set them up at the base of your porch steps or along the perimeter of your deck. The downside to motion sprinklers is that anything will set them off.
This includes people and other animals.
After your chickens are solidly trained to stay away from the patio area, you can start deactivating the sprinklers for more comfortable human use.
- It will fire at humans also so you’ll have to stay off the deck or manually man the deck when you are out
Use Fake Predators Keep Chickens Away
Owls, snakes, and hawks are common predators to chickens so chickens have a natural aversion to them. However, simply placing a plastic owl on your porch isn’t likely to keep your chickens away long term.
Chickens are smart and will quickly learn that the owl isn’t really dangerous. That’s why many chicken owners purchase mechanical predators to scare chickens away. To be effective, you will need to change the position of your preditors, the volume, and location. This keeps your birds from becoming as accustomed to them. It also takes some time and commitment your birds alert.
But as a side benefit, these predators can help to keep other real predators away from your chickens. You can also buy rubber snakes and move them around various locations.
You will also find that different types of chickens are more flightly than others. As a result, you will have varying success with decoy predators to scare away your chickens.
Leghorns and Buttercups are more flighty and will likely stay away from a fake predator. Cochins or Brahmas are less flighty and more likely to realize that the predator isn’t real and then ignore the warning.
- The variety of chickens will impact how flighty they are when encountering fake predators
- Predators will need to be moved around and repositioned for effectiveness
Use Another Animal To Keep Your Hens In Check
You can use other animals to keep your chickens away.
In some cases, a rooster can help to keep your girls close to the coop. Roosters are generally protective and can help herd the flock closer to home. Of course, you may need to train your rooster to stay close to the coop for this to be effective.
A guard dog can also be used to keep your chickens off the porch. Choose a dog that won’t kill or eat the chickens. Instead, train your dog to frighten the chickens away anytime they get near the deck or porch.
Fence Off Your Porch, Deck, and Patio
You may have noticed that older farmhouses have fences around the house, flower gardens, and deck. That’s because fences are effective at keeping chickens out. However, fencing off a porch or deck is often undesirable for many people. There are many fencing options. These include
- Full fencing and rail
- Chicken wire or wire cloth
- Yellow ribbon
- Hotwire or electric fence
These options have different benefits and drawbacks to them. Let’s go over your options.
Full Fence: A full fence or rail option should be 5 feet high. Even chickens with their wings clipped can often get over a 4-foot fence if they are determined enough.
If your chickens have plenty of roaming space, then a shorter fence will be more effective than if your chickens are crowded. Fences can be made of all types of materials including stone, wood, or wire.
Chicken Wire or Wire Cloth: Chicken wire is not very strong, but can be effective if you are trying to block off a forbidden area. Wire cloth seems to be more effective and is more popular for chicken owners.
Wire cloth can be used over the chicken wire or placed on the ground to keep chickens from digging in the flower beds around your porch. Several chicken owners recommended using a short fence, the height of your hens, to discourage hens from crossing the border into your porch.
Hens would run into the fence and be discouraged from crossing the border. However, it might be tricky to put the fence in the right place so that chickens don’t fly over the fencing.
Yellow Ribbon: A yellow ribbon can be used in much the same way as a short fence. It is used as a visual deterrent to the chickens. However, you will probably have to be diligent in training your chickens to stay on the right side of the yellow ribbon or they will soon ignore it.
Hot Wire: A hot wire is an effective way to train chickens to stay away from a boundary. The discomfort keeps chickens from attempting to roost on the top of the fence. It can also be used as a fence and means of keeping chickens out.
Use Spices or Herbs to Deter Chickens
Most chickens detest the strong smell of many spices and herbs. You can spread spices across your deck. You can also grow specific herbs or annuals that tend to deter chickens around your porch or patio.
Spices that deter chickens include:
- Curry powder
- Black pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Citrus Peels
In addition to the strong smell, many spices will also cause discomfort to chickens who walk across the spices. The discomfort doesn’t harm the chickens but will hopefully cause them to leave the offending area.
The main difficulty of using spices is that you will have to replenish them every time you water or it rains or snows. If you live in a windy place as I do, then you will also have to replenish the spices multiple times a day due to the constant wind or breeze.
Another option is to grow plants that act as natural deterrents for chickens. Most perennial herbs have strong smells that deter chickens. Additionally, there are many annual plants with strong smells. Keep in mind that some chickens will forage even smelly plants for food. Plants that help to deter chickens include
- Lemon Balm
Keep in mind that healthy, established plants will fare better against chickens. Small seedlings may not have enough smell to deter chickens and will easily fall prey to their digging and feeding.
How do I stop my dog from eating chicken poop? Dogs eat chicken poop for a variety of reasons. It is instinct for some breeds of dogs, especially smaller dogs. It can provide protein, B1 vitamins, or potassium to a dog’s diet. Other dogs may eat chicken poop out of boredom or to get a reaction from you. You can limit your dog’s exposure to chicken poop, focus on positive reinforcements to stay away, and supplement your dog’s diet with more protein and vitamins.
How do I keep chickens off my cement? Keeping chickens off cement involves a lot of the same techniques discussed in keeping them off a porch or patio. Keep consistent, consider a barrier, and remove all attractions to the cement. Make sure they have plenty of sunshine, shade, food, and perching opportunities away from the cement and never feed them or reward them for being on the cement.
Keeping chickens away from your porch may require the use of several techniques, especially if you don’t want to fence off the area in question. Remember that chickens need space, safety, and food to thrive and offer those things away from restricted areas. Consistent reinforcement will make it more likely that your chickens will stay away from your deck. What ideas have been successful for you that I haven’t mentioned here?