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As many of you know, raising chickens for eggs isn't cheap, and loosing them to predicators is part of the game - but a expensive part. In the past, I've lost hens to just about every kind of predator , but with constant trapping I've been able to keep it "under control". For the last three days, I've had something get in the hen house at night and kill a hen = just eating the neck and butt, and not leaving the body behind. So, last night I put up the game camera facing into the door, and as expected, a LARGE Possum made its appearance. My dad always told me that a possum could do as much damage as a coon, fox or skunk, but I didn't heed his warning - thinking that the good that they do, outweighs what damage they do. Wrong. War has began - traps will be out in force tonight. I plan on torture before death.
 

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:dunno:...you could always get a watch rhinoceros.
 

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Yep those possums are chicken killers. I have eradicated most of them on my property. I did have to bring a couple of big cats down earlier this year. But since then we have been good.
 

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We live out in the country but don't have any livestock at the house. I'm a live and let live kind of guy except for hogs and that's an ongoing and continuous war. Possums I usually leave alone. They actually do some good until they start tearing things up around the house. Racoons don't know when to quit and usually end up on my bad side. Armadillos don't last long when they start digging holes all over the yard and flower beds. Coyotes never come around the place. I hear them at night but I haven't seen one in years. Everything else is pretty safe but one thing I will mention. I always set up game cameras to see what it is I'm going to be trapping. I learned that lesson after I trapped a skunk one night but that's a whole other story.
 

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Luckily it wasn't a neighbors dog, that is a bigger problem.
 

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I just got my first chickens. They have been in the coop for about a month. I got them a day old and they are nine weeks old now .
A 6X14 Roofed coop with a 4 foot raised roost box on the end.
1/2 hardware cloth all around and down in the ground with skirt out 18". I have coons, fox and opossum testing the wire. They haven't had any luck. I check the wire and for tracks every morning.
I had the chicks out in a temporary pin in the day while i was working the coop. A hawk landed on the pin while i was standing 12 foot way!
I put the heat lamp in the coop the first week. They were five weeks and not going to roost without a night light they had in the brood box. You have to teach them everything unless you have a good hen. The second night in the coop i went out to make sure they went to bed and not chasing bugs from the light of the heat lamp and an owl was in a tree close to the coop.
I'm glad i built with heavy wire and put it deep in the ground. I covered the wire seams with washers screws wooden fence boards.
You can't get 100% predator proof but you can harden off.
 

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Would eventually like to own some chickens. However. I supply cartons and a friend supplies the fresh little nuggets so I can’t complain.


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My wife got some chickens in the spring, and had the exact same problem. It turned out to be a fox who was only coming around at night. By the time we dispatched it she had killed all but one of the chickens, who has been alone all summer. She follows us around A LOT when she s free ranging during the day if we are outside. It even flew up onto my lap when we were sitting outside one day and I had been ignoring it when it was standing for awhile in front of my chair.
We're going to have to get more chickens before winter hits to help it keep warm in the chicken coop, even though it has a heat lamp.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
This morning I had the possum in the trap. I usually hate to dispatch wild animals, but I enjoy eggs more. Odds are that there will be more.
 

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Yea, a dog is great if you can keep it outside. But around here the dog only guards ts food bowl and spot on the sofa.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
This morning I did a head count and came up short one rooster. Game camera didn't show any activity in / around the hen house, but feathers everywhere outside the pen wire. We allow free ranging during the day, but lock them up tight at night. I followed the trail of feathers back through the brush about 500 yards and discovered where the chickens had been eaten - three separate piles, and it was the same, exact location that the large Bobcat used last year. So, I know the same Bobcat is back, and hitting before dark. I have some snares set on the fence line where something has been crawling under, and I'm pretty sure that's his entry point. On the other side of the fence is a very rocky, steep canyon that nothing but deer and wildlife can maneuver through. Last year I lost over fifty hens and four ducks, this year, I'm down to ten hens - from over fifty in June. He's smarter than I am, so this war might be futile. I named him Barry.
 

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Well we've got no chickens but a while back the darned possums were crawling down utility lines and getting in the house tearing through soffit vents. Checked the attic and there wasn't any varmints - set a large rat trap outside and later found a possum under a shrub with a mangled leg where he'd dragged his miserable self with the trap firmly attached. I finished him off with an air gun. I really don't like those animals -- although the Almighty put them here.
 

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So far over the last 18 months I have trapped and killed around 30 raccoons and 20 opossums. I got rid of the bobcat population about 3 years ago. One needs a large live trap, catnip and a fresh killed rabbit. I used to have over 300 laying hens and 200 ducks. Bobcats are a opportunist predator. They will come into kill about any time of day or night.
 

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Do what a friend of mine does, get a couple of future big dog pups and raise them with the chickens. They will defend them better than any fences, etc. He hasn't lost a chicken in over a decade.A couple of coyotes haven't made it out of the yard. He just got another pup as the original pair are over 10 years old and sadly will be gone soon. As soon as the pup he just got is "broken in", another one will join with the group and the chickens will rest easy. The biggest one of his old dogs spends almost all his time with the chickens and loves to be a baby chick heat source. The chicks go to him as soon as they are hatched and the dogs are part of the family, but the big one is especially loved by the chickens and the rooster is almost glued to him. At 140 pounds and 115 pounds each, anything stupid enough to try to get past them chicken hunting should be prevented from passing on his/her stupidity. The only negatives with the dogs is the food and vet bill.
 

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Grew up on a dairy and with broiler house raising thousands of broilers at a time. Free Range chickens means free meals to critters. Keeping them up in a coop and pen you will eventually have something get in and kill some. Those that are allowed to Free Range are going to be a free meal to some critter. I stopped killing coyotes a few years back because they eat stray cats and dogs. Have not seen a stray from then till now, don't expect to. Chickens are much easier prey for a wide range of critters. Our broiler house was built to keep chickens in and critters out. One of us had to walk around it everyday to check for digging etc. A weasel, mink or large gopher rat could get in a small hole and kill several in a short time. They rip the throat out and taste of blood put them in a killing frenzy. A snake like a copper head would kill a few, more because dumb chickens would peck it. My grandmother had laying hens. Pen had a wire top to keep hawks out. Pen fence wire went foot deep in ground. Hen house had roost and laying boxes. Occasionally some critter would still get in and kill one or more. We always had hunting dogs that usually ran loose. We still lost chickens, with cattle, hogs and horses we occasionally lost a calf, pig or colt. Livestock was usually to dogs. Hearing the phrase Free Range gives me the vision of a salesman somewhere with a new scheme to sell chickens
 

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Free range chickens, Is that like a gun free chicken zone?
Chickens know gun free zone rules. Shelter in place or run like a chicken. Without a gun you will get plucked.
 

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I just got my first chickens. They have been in the coop for about a month. I got them a day old and they are nine weeks old now .
A 6X14 Roofed coop with a 4 foot raised roost box on the end.
1/2 hardware cloth all around and down in the ground with skirt out 18". I have coons, fox and opossum testing the wire. They haven't had any luck. I check the wire and for tracks every morning.
I had the chicks out in a temporary pin in the day while i was working the coop. A hawk landed on the pin while i was standing 12 foot way!
I put the heat lamp in the coop the first week. They were five weeks and not going to roost without a night light they had in the brood box. You have to teach them everything unless you have a good hen. The second night in the coop i went out to make sure they went to bed and not chasing bugs from the light of the heat lamp and an owl was in a tree close to the coop.
I'm glad i built with heavy wire and put it deep in the ground. I covered the wire seams with washers screws wooden fence boards.
You can't get 100% predator proof but you can harden off.
Nice
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thus far I've trapped a possum in a live trap inside the hen house area, a coyote in a snare on the back fence line, (doubtful he was involved in anything chicken-related) and see the bobcat on my game camera both early evening and early morning hours. A few years ago I'd be out there at those hours, but I'm tooooo old for that now. The ONLY reason I've allowed them to free range was due to the eggs being richer and better than penned up hens. But I have no choice now.
 
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