With chickens being the small size that they are, this makes them more vulnerable to a number of wild predators. These unwanted critters can vary from, dogs, cats, coyotes, hawks, raccoons and quite a few more. Since this is the case, you want to be sure your chickens are safe throughout the night or while you are away. Below, you will find a few tips to help you in achieving this.
If you are raising free range chickens, that is, chickens that roam free on your land throughout the day, you will want to make a coop that is built off of the ground by at least five feet. As long as you do not clip your chickens’ wings, they should be able to fly into the coop. A good way to keep vermin from accessing the coop, would be to wrap the legs of the structure in barbed wire. Also, you will want to put a door on it so the chickens can be locked away safely at night. If you are making the coop out of fencing, the best to use would be standard chicken wire or any other sturdy wire with holes no bigger than one inch. These types of wire can be found at your local co-op, feed store or hardware store.
On the other hand, if you are raising caged chickens, there are a few more factors to take into consideration for a safe pen. First of all, the pen itself should be made with chicken wire or any similar sturdy wire with holes no bigger than one inch. Along the bottom of the pen, you will want to nail down 1×4 boards around the outside edge to keep predators from sneaking in under the wire. Also, to keep flying predators from swooping down or climbing ones, alike, out, you will want to cover the top of the pen with the same sturdy wire, as well. To do this, you can simply overlap the top wire onto the posts used to frame the pen with and nail it down.
Be sure that the edge of the top wire meets the edge of the side wire. Then, you want to nail 1×4 boards around the seam that was made between the top wire and the side wire. Secondly, making a coop for them to sleep in and lay eggs in would be a good idea. When building a coop like this, you can make the walls out of plywood, placed within a quarter of an inch from each other, to help keep smaller vermin, like snakes out. Eggs are a known tasty treat for snakes. You can build this type of coop in such a way, where one side of it acts as one of the four walls of the chicken pen. Then you can cut a hole in the bottom of the coop, with a closing door on it(to keep them locked up safely at night), so the chickens can easily access it. Remember to also construct a door on the outside of the pen for you to use to collect the eggs. When building this door, keep in consideration that you want to leave the smallest spaces possible between the door and the coop walls.
Remembering these helpful tips while constructing your chickens home will be sure to help yield happy, stress-free chickens, which makes for more eggs and/or better tasting poultry.