Chicken predators are not just a concern for those living on acres in the county. If you have backyard chickens on your urban or suburban homestead then you need to be aware of your chicken predators too!
These are not listed in order of threat – all of the same basic threat potential, depending your your area, your fencing, your coops, etc. Furthermore this isn’t a discussion about us overtaking natural areas for these animals; yes it happens, yes it is sad but that is a discussion for another day. Right now I want you to be aware of the present potential dangers, how to identify them and prevent them.
Top Chicken Predators – Dogs
Neighborhood dogs can be chicken predators and pose a real threat to your flock. But even more…your own pooch. If you aren’t sure how your dog is going to react to your chickens (yes even little toy breeds), you need to put up a barrier between the two for awhile. My male chihuahua used to be much more aggressive than my big Australian shepherd. Now that he’s almost 13 he can’t be bothered to chase a hen around the yard. A big dog that is able to get into your yard, and not your own dog, will probably carry off its kill.
Top Chicken Predators – Cats
Those sweet little kitties are related to BIG cats and they are predators. And not just feral cats folks; your neighbor’s sweet little kitty could be a potential threat to the life of your girls. Most domestic cats aren’t big enough to carry off a full sized chicken so they’ll do their best to get to the larger/meatier parts of the chicken and leave the rest.
Top Chicken Predators – Raccoons
Raccoons are one of the chicken predators I hear the most about; though not really an issue here in Phoenix. Many urban and suburban areas have raccoons in their backyards often. Raccoons are cute but they can also be pretty vicious. They’ll pull a chicken’s head clean off, right through your wire! They’ll carry off chicks and smaller birds if given the chance but most of the time you’re going to find a headless bird. It is very sad.
Top Chicken Predators – Coyotes
Here in Phoenix coyotes are a real threat to pets that are left outside and to any backyard chicken flock. A coyote can jump as high as 8 feet (most suburban walls and fences stop around 6 feet); and coyotes are good climbers. Coyotes are definitely opportunists – if you make it easy for them to get to your flock they will keep coming back until they’ve eaten them all. Like dogs, coyotes will leave some tell-tale signs like paw prints and feathers; but they usually won’t leave a kill behind unless they got seriously spooked….