Until I moved to the country, I thought of raccoons as cute lovable creates. It didn’t take me long to realize that they can be ruthless killers to a flock of chickens. Fortunately, there are effective steps that keep raccoons at bay and the chickens safe!
10 Steps To Keep Raccoons Away From Chickens
- Raccoon proof the coop
- Make your property unattractive to raccoons
- Loud noises
- Surround yard with bad odors
- Flashing lights
- Motion sensor lights
- Increase visibility around the coop
- Lock chickens up at night
- Keep a trained dog
- Use traps to remove raccoons
This may be easier said than done. Raccoons have very nimble fingers and they’re smart. They can undo a latch, climb, or dig to get into things they want.
This makes deterring raccoons difficult. These steps take exactness (planning?) so let’s dive into what you need to know in more detail.
Raccoon Proof The Coop
Make sure the doors and windows on your coop have raccoon-proof latches such as a padlock or combination lock. If the lock requires 2 or more steps to open, it should keep out the raccoons. You could also use something heavy like a cinderblock to lean up against the door.
Use hardware cloth around the run and over coop windows. Chicken wire will keep your chickens in, but a determined raccoon can rip it apart. Hardware cloth is sturdier and more unbreakable.
Bury it 2-4 feet deep around your coop and chicken run to deter the raccoons from digging. You may also want to put it over everything like a roof and secure it tightly so the raccoons can’t gain access by climbing.
- Use complex latches and locks on your chicken coop
- Cover the chicken coop with hardware cloth
- Bury fencing or coop walls underground to keep raccoons from digging under
Make Your Property Unattractive To Raccoons
Raccoons enjoy quick and easy meals. That means you must secure your trash can lids tight. You should also bring pet food inside, especially at night. Raccoons have a keen sense of smell. If a raccoon smells an easy meal from your or your pet’s leftovers he might come to investigate and find your chickens.
Keep bird feeders out of their reach and clean up the fallen seed. The little bandits love seeds! If they can get to your bird feeder or find seeds beneath it, they will keep coming back. Raccoons love to climb. This means that reaching your bird feeder is no problem for them. They can balance, leap, and do almost anything to reach your feeders. As a result, you should bring your feeders in just like you do pet food.
Another solution is to use a raccoon-proof bird feeder. They keep raccoons, squirrels, and heavier birds, like magpies, away from the birdseed.
Check your property for hollow tree trunks or holes into an attic or shed. Raccoons enjoy a nice, dark place to sleep, especially if it’s close to an easy food source. Regularly check your property so you can close off any easy homes for raccoons. Patch all holes in the attic, sheds, and other outbuildings.
Raccoons love water and are attracted to it. If you have a bird-bath, pond, swimming pool, or other water sources around your property, you will need to take extra care. Cover the water securely at night. This can be done with a pool cover, heavy plywood, or by draining the water when you are finished using it.
- Secure trash cans
- Bring pet food in at night
- Clean up bird food spills and bring in bird food at night
- Fix or repair all holes and cavities around your property that can become homes for raccoons.
- Be aware of water sources
Surround Your Yard With Bad Odors
Raccoons aren’t fond of the smell of Cayenne pepper, hot peppers, garlic, onions, or ammonia. Putting cayenne pepper around your yard is a safe way to help deter the raccoons from coming onto your property in the first place.
Or you can try a homemade raccoon repellent. Simply boil some cayenne pepper in a gallon of water. Add 2-3 jalapenos and one onion. Boil for 20 minutes. Spray around your chicken coop. You will need to test the strength of the repellant as it won’t be effective if it’s not strong enough.
Use Lights To Scare Raccoons Away
Raccoons are nocturnal so they usually sleep during the day. Using a strobe light or a motion sensor light at night might keep them at bay. Make sure that you purchase a light that is meant for small animals as many “security” lights only detect larger animals and humans. You will also want to check the accuracy and direction that the light will detect animals.
Increase Visibility Around your Coop
Make sure you keep your grass and shrubs down around your coop. This will help to eliminate predators from hiding nearby or sneaking up on the chickens. Ideally, your chicken coop can be located in an area without bordering bushes and hedges. If not, keep the branches trimmed in a way that lets the light in and keeps visibility high.
Use A Trained Dog As A Guard Dog
Use a trained dog to keep predators, including raccoons, away from your property. Dogs have been used for hundreds of years as a means of protecting people, property and other animals.
Plus, raccoons aren’t fond of the smell of dog so if the dog is trained not to kill the chickens, he can help run off the raccoon.
But, Make sure your dog likes chickens or has been trained not to harm them. If he hasn’t been trained properly, he could end up killing the chickens just for sport. There are specific breeds better at protecting chickens than other breeds.
Trap Raccoons And Remove Them
Trapping raccoons is often the last resort for homeowners. It can be a hassle. If you plan to trap it yourself, make sure that you protect yourself from injury. Raccoons can spread disease and are known to be vicious when trapped or cornered.
Additionally, many areas prohibit the relocation of raccoons without a permit. That means that you need to have a plan for what you will do with them once you have trapped them.
You can also hire your local animal control center to come to remove them.
Once you have a permit to relocate the raccoons, understand that distance is key. Once raccoons find a home, they like to stay so make sure when they’re released from the trap it’s more than 5 miles from your home. This way they can’t find their way back
What Other Predators Kill Chickens? (think google questions)
Raccoons aren’t the only predators that kill chickens. Dogs, wolves, fox, snakes, and hawks are just a few. Fortunately, if you’ve taken the time to raccoon-proof your coop as stated above you’ve done most of the work.
Your chicken coop doesn’t have to be fortified like a bomb shelter, though it may be starting to sound like it, to keep your chickens safe. A few tweaks to the raccoon proofing are all you need.
- Dogs, wolves, fox, large cats and other large predators: Make sure your fences are secure without holes at the corners or seams. You can also use an electric fence. These animals will also dig under a fence so again, burying hardware cloth discourages this. Also, a trained livestock dog will fight off animals that want to harm their little charges.
- Hawks, owls or birds of prey: Use a wire mesh over your chicken coop. If you put chicken wire or hardware cloth up to keep out the raccoons, this should be sufficient as long as it’s attached properly without gaps.
- Snakes: Make sure the holes in your fencing are less than ½ inch in diameter. Snakes that can fit through a hole that small are usually too small to be a threat to your chickens and their eggs.
Making these changes to your coop will help keep your chickens safe from predators of every kind.
Will raccoons kill chickens during the day?
YES! Although raccoons are nocturnal, they have been known to venture out during the day for a quick meal especially in Urban areas where they are used to loud noises. They also come out in daylight if they’re rabid so be careful!
How can I protect my ducks from raccoons?
Raccoons will kill ducks. Protecting them is like protecting your chickens. Keep their coops raccoon proofed. Also, a good livestock dog will help keep the raccoons away.
What breed of dogs protects chickens the best?
- Akbash: A large, smart dog. They are able to tell if something or someone is friendly or dangerous. They have a calm personality but love to play.
- Pyrenean Mountain Dog: An excellent guard dog. They are good and patient with small animals such as chickens and their chics. They are also known for staying awake at night. This helps prevent predators such as raccoons or foxes from attacking while you’re asleep.
- Kangals: A smaller guard dog but still very effective. They are fast, agile, and good with pets and children.
- Pyrenean Mastiff: is also a good choice. They are calm, strong and loyal to both humans and the animals they protect.
When looking for a guard dog to protect your chickens you want to make sure they are bred for guarding livestock. You also want to raise it from a puppy with your chickens. This helps the dog learn that chickens aren’t toys and that they need to be protected. It also helps your chickens know that the dog won’t harm them.