Transition Whatcom

The Carnage Continues- Feel Powerless To Stop the Racoon(s) That Are Killing My Hens- Need Ideas Fast

A week ago I had 13 hens. Another was killed in the coop by a racoon last night. I have done my best to secure the coop and am not sure how this racoon keeps getting in, but at this point I have run out of ideas and am going away for 10 days leaving tomorrow on a trip i can't cancel.

Unless I can come up with something fast, I am sure I will return to find that every one of my hens has been killed by this racoon or racoons.


I shot a racoon at point blank range 3 times the other night in the coop with a .22 and it did not die, it got away, and I am not sure if this is the same one that killed a hen last night or not. I am open to any ideas. There won't be anyone here to guard the coop at night while I am gone and even if there was I am not sure what they could do. This racoon or racoons seems hell bent on killing all my hens. Does anyone know anything about leghold traps? I thought about that as a possible solution, but think this critter could easily avoid them and a stray dog might get into it which I don't want. I dont know what to do.

Please help! I can be reached by phone at 1-800-333-2553 H&W I am in Point Roberts. I am wondering how active this site is. I haven't posted on it in a long time myself. There was zero response to the post I made the other day.

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Forgot to mention, a week ago I had 13 hens. Only 6 remain. At the rate things are going, unless I can come up with a solution fast, they'll all be dead by the time I return from my trip on the 25th. I called two friends who have chickens here in Point Roberts and they didn't have any ideas. Very frustrating!

John. 

Not really sure what to tell you. I am sure many people are not responding because they, including myself, believe that shooting raccoons is not a positive solution to your problem; leg hold traps even less so.

My personal suggestion is that you give away your chickens to someone with a secure coop......for the mean time. From the sounds of it you have a very deficient coop that needs to be redesigned or demolished and completely rebuilt. Once you build a coop that is well designed for the health and safety of your hens then bring them back to the farm. 

Until that point you will senselessly  be fighting against nature and nature against you. 

Be proactive and bask in the process of workmanship that allows different systems to coexist. 

Good luck. 

Dan

Getting theoretical for a bit:

John's post reminds us that competition for resources does exist in nature.  Sometimes we tend to emphasize either "survival of the fittest" or "the web of life," but it seems clear to me that both exist. In nature we can see the components of competition AND cooperation, so whatever human systems we design, we need to take both of these into account.

Which is why I like David Holmgren's Permaculture principles so much. Principle 2 is "Catch and Store Energy" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_2.php) and Principle 3 is "Obtain a Yield" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_3.php). These are the Power principles that acknowledge that everyone has to eat, and that competition for resources is a reality.

If the previous 2 principles are like the gas pedal, the next two balance those with the brakes. Principle 4 is "Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_4.php) Principle 5 is "Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_5.php). No. 6 is "Produce no Waste" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_6.php).

Jumping ahead, Principle no. 8 is "Integrate rather than Segregate" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_8.php), which is all about cooperation as a key strategy.

There are strategies to minimize competition and maximize cooperation, which I think is usually a good idea. Maybe we can build enough abundance into our systems so that we have a little left to share with our competitors. In the end, we all have to eat, but we're not going to win every competition every time. Holmgren's icon for the "Obtain a Yield" principle is a vegetable with a bite already taken out of it, signifying that the competing critters are gonna get some of what we thought was going to be our yield, so we'd best be prepared for that.

Now to the practical (for what it's worth):

When critters get some of our fruits and veggies, that's one thing. When they get animals in our care, that takes it to a level that is harder to take.

John, best wishes for successfully protecting your remaining chickens. I'm not expert on these things, but I agree with Dan's suggestions. Success lies with securing your chickens, and not so much with killing predators.

Lots of critters can get underneath a fence, so we (Angela) made sure our chickens are secure inside their coop at night, and have hardware cloth installed under their coop.  But our concern so far has mostly to do with rats.

David

Who will be caring for your hens whilst you are gone?  I am unable to get up there due to work.  Do you have some helpful neighbors of family who may be able to help?  ~  Jamie

John- you have to get one of those electric fence things.  Its a string with metal that winds around the outside of your coop.  You put it at a couple levels- about 6 inches up and another line around 18 inches up, and attaches to a small battery powered unit, and install it six inches or so from the perimeter of your actual fence (you don't want to electrify the whole thing).  You can get it at the farm store. 

We have raccoons and when we first put the fence around the coop you could hear the critters squeal in the night and run off like banshees (I myself was zapped and its a real shock, so to speak!).  They DID NOT COME BACK, and we never ever had any 'coons come round again.  It WILL keep dogs out too (as long as you use it).  You just have to remember to turn it on at night or while you are gone. 

Unfortunately for us, I got complacent and forgot to maintain the batteries, and our husky decimated my whole flock.  I'll be starting anew when we move next month, and will definitely be re-installing the electric wire. 

John, I have an extra Electric  Fencer I will LOAN for a season until you can better your coop or Purchase your own.  My purpose in life is to help others  make a secure farm/food situation for themselves.  I prefer not to explain myself and values again on this forum as it becomes tiresome for other, but give me a holler and we can see what we can work out for you.

Just as it takes a community to raise a child, it takes a neighborhood to survive as a community.

Welcome to my neighborhood.

David- I have had this chicken coop for 5 years, and until now, had no problem whatsoever from predators breaking in. I even went to the trouble of burying hog wire 24" deep in the ground to prevent coyotes tunneling into the coop. The only vulnerable part of the coop is above the chain link where I have chicken wire that is about to be replaced with much less penetratable hardware cloth the moment I return home. I am driving today from the Seattle area to get home after cutting this trip short due to this problem. I hope I am able to borrow that electric gizmo someone offered to loan me. Regardless of how well I secure the coop I intend to destroy the racoon who killed more than half my hens, and don't give a damn if anyone on here disagrees philosophically with that decision. I am not on here to kowtow to those people who some in my circles consider mindless robotic Obamatrons. I do not live inside the confines of "The People's Republic of Bellingham" and am a member of Gun Owners of America. I am only on here to compare notes on raising chickens and I'll do whatever I see fit to protect my birds.

David MacLeod said:

Getting theoretical for a bit:

John's post reminds us that competition for resources does exist in nature.  Sometimes we tend to emphasize either "survival of the fittest" or "the web of life," but it seems clear to me that both exist. In nature we can see the components of competition AND cooperation, so whatever human systems we design, we need to take both of these into account.

Which is why I like David Holmgren's Permaculture principles so much. Principle 2 is "Catch and Store Energy" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_2.php) and Principle 3 is "Obtain a Yield" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_3.php). These are the Power principles that acknowledge that everyone has to eat, and that competition for resources is a reality.

If the previous 2 principles are like the gas pedal, the next two balance those with the brakes. Principle 4 is "Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_4.php) Principle 5 is "Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_5.php). No. 6 is "Produce no Waste" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_6.php).

Jumping ahead, Principle no. 8 is "Integrate rather than Segregate" (http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principle_8.php), which is all about cooperation as a key strategy.

There are strategies to minimize competition and maximize cooperation, which I think is usually a good idea. Maybe we can build enough abundance into our systems so that we have a little left to share with our competitors. In the end, we all have to eat, but we're not going to win every competition every time. Holmgren's icon for the "Obtain a Yield" principle is a vegetable with a bite already taken out of it, signifying that the competing critters are gonna get some of what we thought was going to be our yield, so we'd best be prepared for that.

Now to the practical (for what it's worth):

When critters get some of our fruits and veggies, that's one thing. When they get animals in our care, that takes it to a level that is harder to take.

John, best wishes for successfully protecting your remaining chickens. I'm not expert on these things, but I agree with Dan's suggestions. Success lies with securing your chickens, and not so much with killing predators.

Lots of critters can get underneath a fence, so we (Angela) made sure our chickens are secure inside their coop at night, and have hardware cloth installed under their coop.  But our concern so far has mostly to do with rats.

David

My buddy Andy has been helping since I've been gone. He just emailed me that 2 more hens were killed a couple days ago. He fixed the hole they got in through, the problem is the chickenwire. It should never be used to build any chicken coop. Hardware cloth is much more secure. Coons are strong. They can force holes in chicken wire. This is about to change the moment I get home later today. Andy fixed the latest hole with hardware cloth but I'm about to cover over all existing chicken wire with hardware cloth. Anyone out there who has chicken wire on even PART of their coop should learn from my painful experience. It really sucks to hear the anquished scream of a hen having its throat ripped out, and it is painful to come into your coop to find dead hens that have been disemboweled along with eggs that have been eaten. If anyone doesn't like the fact that I have no qualms about shooting this coon, tough shit. I make zero apologies.

Jamie Jedinak said:

Who will be caring for your hens whilst you are gone?  I am unable to get up there due to work.  Do you have some helpful neighbors of family who may be able to help?  ~  Jamie

Gosh John, I am really sorry about your birds.  I had pulled my extra fencer and temp wire out for you or your friend to pick up but never got a call.  I called the numbers you posted but neither were able to reach you personally. 

I was under the impression that this forum was here for the purposes of dealing with  flocks of birds, not political frustration, not that I blame or judge you for you for your current feelings.  We all have opinions which we would like to express, but there are other places more appropriate to do this.  Please do not take our silence here as lack of information or concern of our political situation.

I will put my loaner back away for the next person who has an emergency situation concerning something which I have a bit more expertise on and wish you the best in where ever you choose to your future energies.

Blessings on all of our flocks,

Lady Hamster

Hi all:

I started this group and as such am the "administrator" I suppose, so I did a little editing of the postings.  Anyway, I love a good rant*, but want this group to be focused on how to take care of our flocks.  It appears a potential solution was offered to the person who was having trouble animals killing his chickens- i hope he takes up that generous offer.  It is a common dilemma! 

As for myself, we are moved into our new digs in Columbia neighborhood and I look forward to once again having my own little flock and a new chicken coop.  The recent discussions make me think maybe we'll just enclose the whole thing in wire from top to bottom.  Bulletproof! 

* Maybe Transition Whatcom needs a "Practicing Respectful Disagreement" page for posting our strong feelings and hearing what others have to say about the same topics.  I have changed minds and had mine changed often, when the discourse of a good rant is on point, adult, and well-thought out. 

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