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Ideas for a raccoon resistant chicken tractor.

Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
Hi all,

I'm looking for ideas to help make a chicken tractor(s) as raccoon resistant as possible. I recently got permission from a local Christmas tree farm to run some chicken tractors on their pasture. I asked about predators in the area and he said there are tons of raccoons around. They have even given up trying to grow a kitchen garden because the raccoons destroy everything. I asked if he would be OK with me hunting / trapping them, and he said Hell yeah I would be OK with that. So aside from putting some hunting pressure on the population what are some other ideas to help reduce the likely hood of finding a couple of empty chicken tractors in the morning.

The chicken tractors are going to be a Salatin design, 8'x8' wooden frame wrapped in welded wire. Flip top 4'x4' lid, 3/4 of the roof solid material.

Ideas I am considering:

1) An extra layer of fencing folded out at the bottom, about 1' or so, so they coulding dig right under the cage. They could still start digging under from a foot back though.

2) Strand of barbwire around perimiter of cages.

3) Strand of electric fence around cages. (Might be out of my price range at the moment)

4) Live traps placed next to / near cages. I'm thinking then if they do make their way out to the cages maybe they will think the live trap opening is a "way in".

5) A tent, American Bulldog, banjo, spotlight, and a shotgun.

6) Combination of above.

Ideas?

Thanks!


SE, MI, Zone 5b "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
~Thomas Edison
Nicola Marchi


Joined: Sep 20, 2011
Posts: 73
    
    3
I think Ideas 1, 3, and 5 sound workable.

5 isn't very practical though... who really wants to sleep in a tent guarding their chickens for the rest of their life?

If the pitbull can be trusted outside to guard, you might just let him sleep outside by the chicken tractor.
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
Nicola Marchi wrote:I think Ideas 1, 3, and 5 sound workable.

5 isn't very practical though... who really wants to sleep in a tent guarding their chickens for the rest of their life?

If the pitbull can be trusted outside to guard, you might just let him sleep outside by the chicken tractor.


Yeah 5 was kind of a joke, it wouldn't be for the rest of my life just the chickens life. The dog can be trusted, but it's not my property and I wouldn't want to leave him out there alone.

As an aside pits and bulldogs are different breeds, vary similar, but slightly different temperments. Pits are Old English Bulldogs crossed with a Terrier to increase the "gameness" of the Old English. American Bulldogs are the closest living descendent of the Old English. My Amer Bulldog likes to make a game of catching mice and baby rabbits and dropping them at my feet unharmed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Bulldog ------ If you go there mine is the "standard type"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitbull
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
#1 worked pretty well for us under heavy pressure from raccoons. You may want to stake the flaps down between moves to make digging even less convenient. Frequent moves also help discourage digging, that is, move no less than once per day. If you're a male, urinating around the perimeter may help drive off raccoons. May not work with female urine, which may be an attractant, apparently.


Idle dreamer

Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
Tyler Ludens wrote:#1 worked pretty well for us under heavy pressure from raccoons. You may want to stake the flaps down between moves to make digging even less convenient. Frequent moves also help discourage digging, that is, move no less than once per day. If you're a male, urinating around the perimeter may help drive off raccoons. May not work with female urine, which may be an attractant, apparently.


Awesome, Thank you!

I was thinking either a heavy rock, tent stakes, or wire clothes hanges bent in a "U" and pushed into the ground might work. I didn't know about the urine, but if I have my coffee on the way there, there should be a surplus of that...

They will be moved early every morning, maybe more than once if needed.

Does Sepp's bone salve work on raccoons, or would that attract them.... hmmm....
Nicola Marchi


Joined: Sep 20, 2011
Posts: 73
    
    3
Brad Davies wrote:
As an aside pits and bulldogs are different breeds, vary similar, but slightly different temperments. Pits are Old English Bulldogs crossed with a Terrier to increase the "gameness" of the Old English. American Bulldogs are the closest living descendent of the Old English. My Amer Bulldog likes to make a game of catching mice and baby rabbits and dropping them at my feet unharmed.


I didn't know that, thanks. I thought they were just different names to pretty much the same thing.

I'm a german shepherd person myself but have family who loves Akitas and Huskies.
Craig Dobbelyu


Joined: Dec 22, 2011
Posts: 933
Location: Maine (zone 5)
    
  30
Electric poultry netting might be an option if you can afford it. It's mobile, very good deterrent and can be solar powered. You could do away with the tractor and just leave the coop for roosting at night. Or keep the overhead cover if birds of prey are an issue.


"You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”

-Gandhi
Chris Kott


Joined: Jan 25, 2012
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
    
    9
I agree with the sentiment that you don't want to leave your dog alone with the chickens, but that doesn't mean you can't keep a dog with the chickens. I wouldn't want to disrupt the routine of any dog, and that applies to family pets that sleep on your bed as herding dogs. This might not work for someone not making a long-term business investment, but getting a small livestock guardian dog or two (they are social animals, two or more are better) and keeping them from the start in chicken tractors designed with an integrated doghouse would work well, provided you found the right dogs and trained them to task properly. As it would be a life for which they were bred, and the only one they would know, it would be fine for the dogs too. They would get some human interaction when fed and when the tractor is moved, but purpose-bred dogs do seem to derive satisfaction from doing their job.

A more extreme idea, and I don't know if it would work, but if you were building on a slightly (well okay, more than slightly) larger scale, you could try keeping a pair of pigs of the right temperament in a paddock, something like one of those mobile dog fences, heavy duty and staked into the ground, and arranged so that they could have access around the whole chicken tractor the fencing would surround. I just don't know if you could get a pair of pigs, probably boars, with the temperament that would let them exist in close proximity to a chicken coop, and at the same time aggressive enough to fend off/kill intruders. If anyone can speak to this idea, I'd be curious to know if it sound plausible.

-CK
Morgan Morrigan


Joined: Oct 16, 2011
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
the old timers used to just hang up a racoon carcass on the back of the coop. seemed to work well. might want to gut 'em first, and just let the meat rot, or try skinning and just hanging a badly dressed skin up.

since they will let you hunt and trap the area, think you have a great way to get the chicks some protein, and thin out that racoon herd.

if you are a meat eater, you can try the pee trick, and i think the trappers can use coyote urine too.

you can also figure out what their food source is, and trap out there on the forest edge. if you set out a live trap, you can set other ones near it. the commotion of trapping one will draw others in.

check out http://www.trapperman.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/forums/4/1/Trap_Shed.html

They don't appreciate anti-trappers there at all, but if you need info, they have it. lots of interesting wildlife habits are picked up by these guys. prob the only ones watching wildlife in urban interfaces more than anyone else other than pure researchers.


Get involved -Take away the standing of corporations MovetoAmmend.org
Ivan Weiss


Joined: Dec 19, 2009
Posts: 157
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
I hung a roadkill raccoon carcass inside my chicken tractor in a 5-gallon bucket that had 1-inch holes drilled in the bottom. The theory was that flies would lay eggs on the carcasss, and the maggots would drop through the holes to become chicken feed. I never saw any maggots -- maybe the chickens got to them first, maybe not -- but that carcass is still there, and I haven't been bothered by raccoons since.

I should add that my chicken tractors are all walk-in, with standing head room. I'm looking for another roadkill raccoon to add to my other chicken tractor.


Pastured poultry, pork, and beef on Vashon Island, WA.
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8

Wow thanks for all the responces everybody, it's much appreciated!

Craig Dobbelyu wrote:Electric poultry netting might be an option if you can afford it. It's mobile, very good deterrent and can be solar powered. You could do away with the tractor and just leave the coop for roosting at night. Or keep the overhead cover if birds of prey are an issue.


This seems like a good idea. I stopped by the local farm store this weekend and they didn't have anything except the single strand line. I'll check the other local farm store this week and see if I can get an idea for price.

Chris Kott wrote:...getting a small livestock guardian dog or two (they are social animals, two or more are better) and keeping them from the start in chicken tractors designed with an integrated doghouse would work well, provided you found the right dogs and trained them to task properly. As it would be a life for which they were bred, and the only one they would know, it would be fine for the dogs too.


This would be my favorite option if it was my property. I also already have a dog and both of my roommates each have a dog and the county says no more than 3 dogs per household. But yeah once I have a farm of my own I think this would be the way to go for simplicity sake.

Morgan Morrigan wrote: the old timers used to just hang up a racoon carcass on the back of the coop. seemed to work well. might want to gut 'em first, and just let the meat rot, or try skinning and just hanging a badly dressed skin up.

since they will let you hunt and trap the area, think you have a great way to get the chicks some protein, and thin out that racoon herd.

if you are a meat eater, you can try the pee trick, and i think the trappers can use coyote urine too.

you can also figure out what their food source is, and trap out there on the forest edge. if you set out a live trap, you can set other ones near it. the commotion of trapping one will draw others in.

check out http://www.trapperman.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/forums/4/1/Trap_Shed.html

They don't appreciate anti-trappers there at all, but if you need info, they have it. lots of interesting wildlife habits are picked up by these guys. prob the only ones watching wildlife in urban interfaces more than anyone else other than pure researchers.


Thanks for all that. I'll check that link out in a minute, I've got no problems with trapping or hunting them. They way I see it humans have chased out all the natural predators in the area so, to paraphrase Sepp Holzer, now I must do the work of the predator. I'm not OK with killing something just to get rid of it so at the very least I will tan the hides, but I was wondering what to do with the carcasses.

Ivan Weiss wrote:I hung a roadkill raccoon carcass inside my chicken tractor in a 5-gallon bucket that had 1-inch holes drilled in the bottom. The theory was that flies would lay eggs on the carcasss, and the maggots would drop through the holes to become chicken feed. I never saw any maggots -- maybe the chickens got to them first, maybe not -- but that carcass is still there, and I haven't been bothered by raccoons since.

I should add that my chicken tractors are all walk-in, with standing head room. I'm looking for another roadkill raccoon to add to my other chicken tractor.


Ok, that's like the 3rd time I have heard of this so I am going to put some stock in it. At first I was a little resistant to the idea, because I don't want the farmers to think they let a Dahmer Jr. out on their property slinging dead carcasses on everything, but since it's in a bucket it might be more acceptable.

Again thanks for all the ideas!
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
one thing to remember with coons is that they are territorial so if you have a coon that eats chickens and you shoot him chances are good the next one won't and if you have a coon that don't eat chicken she'll keep the other coons at bay, I've got a mama coon here that digs in my compost bins a bit and scares the crap outa an occasional housegeust cause she likes to hang out in my front yard in summer but she don't bother my chickens or goats so we get along just fine. in fact last years baby coons would walk right up within arms length of us to grab scraps at night.
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
Good dogs are the best solution. Raccoons, according to our dogs, are tasty. Almost like chocolate.
Thelma McGowan


Joined: Jul 03, 2011
Posts: 170
Location: western Washington, Snohomish county--zone 8b
    
    2
We have had terrible chicken tractor / racoon issues...the raccons reach through at night and pull the sleeping chickens through the wire and chew off what ever they can grab...heads legs wings ....
the one thing that we observed was that the racoons only attack from about midnight to 4:00am. so we had to start putting the chickens in the hen house at night then back in the tractor during the day. The hen house is secure from predators. chicken tractors tend to be too narrow for the hens to be safe from reaching racoon arms.


There are no experts, Just people with more experience.
 
 
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