How do you protect hens from predators?

The answer here is with great difficulty!

Coop

Originally we had a  flat pack “coop kit” from eBay with a custom built run attached that served us well, sadly a fox got in back in May ’15 and killed all of our hens.

Whilst it was a sad time Key was determined to get things back on track and started work on version 2 of the coop. He and his uncle spent the next 3 weeks on and off converting the garden shed into a very secure coop, with an added run built onto the side.

The coop includes 6 spacious nest boxes, 1 long perch, 2 adjustable vents, 2 padlocks, 2 bolts and lots of mesh on the inside and out.

As you can see from the picture above, it’s not small setup!

Run

The run is made of raised decking with bark chips on top to keep the hens occupied when they are locked in. It was built with security in mind, for example the only door for us to access the run is built into the roof for added security, which is padlocked and bolted when not in use. Heavy gauge cage mesh was used throughout, and forms a skirt around the entire deck base and coop to discourage digging.

There is an automatic DawnTillDusk door between the coop and run which was kindly given to us by a family friend, Graham, which we are very very grateful for.

Security

We have spent a lot of time and money adding various gadgets to the coop and run to try prevent predators (Mr Foxy mostly) getting in and harming our hens again.

Our first line of defense a Foxwatch which is a motion activated ultrasonic deterrent that emits a high pitch noise which only foxes can hear, located on the outskirts pointing towards the coop and run at an angle.

The second line of defense is 2 PIR sensors which detect motion and sound an alarm in the house alert us to activity outside.

The third line of defense are the cameras – You might be wondering why there are two cameras which overlook the coop and run (camera 3 &4), these have a special purpose as between the hours of 8pm and 8am if motion is detected another alarm will sound in the house and an email will be sent to Key, it may sound extreme but it allows us to monitor and review daily garden activity and spot if anything is unusual.

The fourth line of defense is a motion activated sprinkler, there are many times when we have forgot to switch this off and have got a little wet.

The fifth line of defense is temporary, it is Scoot fox repellent which is a water based scent that is applied around the parameter of the coop and run to try fool foxes into thinking it is another foxes territory – We’ll let you know if it works.

The sixthline of defense is the heavy gauge mesh, and the skirt it forms around the coop and run, the inside of the shed is also lined with mesh just in case something does manage to chew through.

Lastly the seventh line of defense is the alarm siren fixed to the shed. There is a magnetic sensor on the coop door which is hooked into our house alarm, if the door is forced open the alarm will go off hopefully spooking whatever is trying to get in. Also as part of the alarm system we have the option to trigger a panic mode which will sound the siren instantly which is only used if we can’t get outside quickly for any reason.