Let me just start this blog by saying, I have learned this lesson the hard way. I had beautiful jumbo Coturnix quail that I had shipped from Winnipeg, Manitoba. They were huge! I had wild, Italian, all white, tuxedo. People were driving 2 hr round trip to buy my hatching eggs at $20/doz. Then in one fell swoop a mink killed my entire flock one morning before dawn, and I caught him red handed when I went out to feed them in the morning. However, it was too late he killed all 14 of them. I was devastated, I felt like it was my fault and I had to do better. So I’ve put together a list of measures I’ve taken to make sure when I hatch a new flock in the spring, this doesn’t happen again, and I thought I would share it! First I am going to go over the types of predators we have in Ontario, Canada where I live. You may have different types where you live, but this is a pretty comprehensive list.￼
Coyotes/Wolves – hybrids of the two
Snakes (they will eat eggs/baby chicks)
Some other parts of Ontario, and other provinces in Canada have Bears (brown, black and polar in some regions)
I underestimated the predators I would have right smack dab in the middle of suburbia the first year, and I paid dearly.
So here is a list I have put together of everything I can think of to deter predators from messing with your livestock.
•Bury wire 6” under coop and around the run, this will keep anything from digging a hole and crawling underneath
•Plug holes with steel wool (my farmer friend from LattimerLane taught me this trick) small rodents and mink can fit through the SMALLEST of holes and gaps, if their head can fit, their body will follow
•Proper wire, maximum 1” hole, heavy gauge, chicken wire keeps the chickens in, but does not keep the predators out
•Proper run size – although you want your livestock to have a nice big run, make sure you have the resources to build it properly. The heavy gauge wire is expensive. This was my rookie mistake about 5 years ago, I just used chicken wire because my run was so big, and I paid dearly in the end.
• Good coop door latch (raccoons and possums have hands that can open all types of latches, ensure you have a good, solid latch)
•Wait to let your critters out after dawn and have them in before dusk – most predators are nocturnal
• Livestock Gaurdian Dog (LGD) this requires specific set of training skills though, so ensure you are willing to put the time in for that! One good LGD is the Great Pyrenees.
•Close all bins of food – also keeps mice away and their droppings can be dangerous
•Collect eggs daily
•Keep smells down – predators have a keen sense of smell, and once they know your livestock is there, they are ruthless!
• If you live in extremely rural areas, you may want a shotgun, this requires properly licensing etc
•Hav-a-heart traps – these are catch and release traps, but just be aware that you have to release them very far from where you live in a very secluded area so they do not become someone else’s issue
•Good perimeter fencing in yard deters some of the bigger predators
Hopefully that is helpful! If anyone has anything to add, please let me know in the comments! Have an awesome day!