Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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How to keep your chickens from being eaten

Homestead

I summed up ways to tell what has been eating your chickens in a previous post, but many of you have asked for the followup --- how to keep those predators at bay.  Even though we live in the middle of the woods, we've only lost a handful of chickens, so I figure we're doing a pretty good job of predator control (without shooting anything).  Here are our top tips:

LucyGet a good dog.  I'm pretty sure Lucy does 95% of the predator control on our farm.  Whenever she hears a sound, she tears off looking for the source.  Nearly all of our chicken losses have occured recently since her old bones have kept our faithful dog closer to home.  (You'll first have to train your dog that chickens are to be protected, not eaten, of course.)

Locate the coop close to your house.  Speaking of close to home, you can go a long way toward scaring off predators by keeping your chickens in an area that you walk through many times a day.  After some experimentation, we've started locating our chick brooder right outside our back door, after which relocation we haven't lost a single chick to predators.

Rooster protects flockInclude a rooster in your flock.  If you don't have neighbors who will complain about the crowing, a rooster will really pull his weight in chasing away predators.  One winter while our flock was free ranging, a hawk swooped down and started tearing at the neck of one of our hens.  The rooster made such a show and the flock yelled so loudly that I knew something was going on and had time to chase the hawk away before the hen was injured.

Close the chickens in at night.  To be honest, I only do this with our chicks, although I could probably have prevented our raccoon incursion by following suit with the adult hens.  To make this technique effective, you'll have to combine it with a campaign to turn your coop into a predator-proof establishment once the door is closed.  No, chicken-wire doesn't cut it, but hardware cloth might if it's screwed down tightly.

Include trees and bushes in the pasture.  During the day, hawks are our biggest danger, and these birds of prey usually hunt by circling over open areas.  Tree cover makes it much tougher for a hawk to notice your poultry, and bushes give your chickens a spot to hide if they are in danger.


What extra measures do you take on your own homestead to keep your layers from turning into fox dinners?

Our chicken waterer is spill-proof, so it won't wet down your coop if the flock mills around for a few hours inside while you sleep in Sunday morning.


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