Contents: How To Keep Raccoons Away From Chickens
- How Can I Keep Raccoons Out of My Chicken Coop?
- What Naturally Keeps Raccoons Away?
- Conclusion: How Do You Keep Raccoons Away Permanently?
How Can I Keep Raccoons Out of My Chicken Coop?
Raccoons will attack and eat your chickens. So, obviously,
raccoon-proofing your chicken coop and outside run is very important. But protecting your chickens from raccoons is a little more difficult than protecting them from other predators.
Raccoons are very smart! Plus, raccoons they can climb and dig very well, and their front paws are a lot like human hands so they can open chicken coop doors with simple latches.
So let’s start with
a few ways you can keep raccoons away from your chickens:
Raccoon-Proof Chicken Coop
When it comes to chicken coops, one of the most important things you can do to protect your flock from a raccoon is to make sure it’s raccoon-proof.
A floor made of solid material, such as concrete, will make it difficult for raccoons to dig their way in. Wire mesh can also be used to cover any openings in the coop, such as windows and vents.
You’ll need a complicated lock, a padlock with a key, or a combination lock for your chicken coop. My favorite way to lock raccoons out of the chicken coop is with a weatherproof, titanium lock (Amazon) and a hasp (Amazon).
By making these simple changes, you can help keep your birds safe from raccoons.
One mistake beginner chicken keepers do all the time is using chicken wire thinking their chickens will be protected by it. But raccoons are notorious for killing the chickens by grabbing them through the small holes of the chicken wire.
Chicken wire = Not good
I personally don’t use chicken wire because raccoons and other predators can easily tear through it. Chicken wire is more for keeping your chickens in than keeping raccoons out.
I really recommend you replace any chicken wire with 1/4 inch hardware cloth (Amazon) because it really works to keep all sorts of predators out of the chicken coop.
Another great idea is to get a pen for your chickens (Amazon), just so they can be outside their run for an adventure while keeping them safe from raccoons.
However, you might want to wrap your pen with hardware cloth if you’re not going to supervise your chickens.
Hands down, my favorite way to prevent raccoons from burrowing under my chicken coop and run is the predator apron system.
A predator apron is simply fencing material that is installed above the ground and runs along the perimeter of the chicken coop and enclosed run.
When a raccoon tries to dig underneath your coop, they’re not going to dig at the outskirts of the apron. They’re going to be digging as close as they can to the base of the coop where they’ll immediately run into the apron.
To see how you can quickly build a predator apron, watch the video below (or keep reading).
To make a predator apron, you’ll need:
- Fencing material (Amazon) that’s at least 24 inches in height
- Galvanized poultry staples (Amazon)
- Hammer (Amazon)
- Hog Rings & Hog Ring Plier (Amazon)
All you have to do is attach the fencing material to the bottom boards around the perimeter of the chicken coop by hammering in poultry staples. I use galvanized poultry staples because they don’t rust like regular staples, and they’re strong enough to keep raccoons and other predators out.
Make sure to pay close attention to the corners where you attach the seams of the fencing material together. For some reason, raccoons love to start digging in the corners. So make 100% sure that the seams are securely attached.
To keep the seam secure, you can use hog rings and a hog ring plier to fasten the fencing material where it overlaps. There’s no way animals can rip the seam apart this way.
Predator Deterrent Lights & Spikes
If you really don’t want nighttime animals to be around your coop in the first place, what really works for me are 2 things.
The first thing that I bought on Amazon was called Predator Guard (there are also other kinds of predator deterrent lights available on Amazon). Predator Guard introduces a pair of flashing red lights that animals assume is a set of eyes. It scares them and makes them stay away from your yard.
I installed 4 of these little gadgets around my chicken coop, facing out in all four directions. It scares the vast majority of raccoons, foxes, deer, wolves, coyotes, skunks, bears, and many other nighttime predators.
The other thing I got were deterrent spikes (Amazon). This is just in case some of the animals don’t get scared of the predator deterrent lights.
I had a few raccoons that weren’t affected by the Predator Guard for some reason (they were “chill” raccoons, I guess), but the deterrent spikes I placed on top of fences where they were coming from helped 100%.
Electric poultry fences (Amazon) seems to work on raccoons if they’re built right, but don’t tend to work on some other predators, such as foxes. They’ll either slip between the lines or jump over it. They’ll also learn when the electric fence is on and if and when it’s ever turned off.
So, an electric fence might work for your chickens as an extra form of protection, but it’s too risky to only use this method.
What Naturally Keeps Raccoons Away?
Food & Water
One thing that can help discourage raccoons from visiting your yard is to stop giving them food and water (intentionally or accidentally).
- Stop raccoons from invading your garbage bins by using a bin strap (Amazon). Even when tipped over, the garbage bin’s lid stays in place. Raccoons will eat any food left out at night, including chicken feed. Remove all chicken feed and store it in a galvanized steel locking lid can (Amazon). These types of cans will also keep rats from chewing through them.
- Raccoons will also use your chickens’ waterer to wash their food. To make sure your yard and coop is a less attractive place for raccoons, dump out any source of water in the evening, after your chickens go to roost.
- Make sure to collect all eggs in the coop and surrounding areas. Be especially careful to remove all eggs before nighttime.
- If you have fruit trees, nut trees, or berry bushes on your property, check for and pick up ripe and fallen fruit. Raccoons love these treats!
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you to keep your chickens safe from raccoons and a whole variety of predators is:
Don’t let your flock out into an unsecured area too early in the morning.
If it’s too quiet in the area and no humans or dogs are around, it’s quite possible that a raccoon is patiently waiting for your chickens.
This is why having a really big chicken run is the best thing ever!
Most predators are nervous about crossing a yard with little to no place to hide.
So it’s a good idea to leave the area around your chicken coop free of bushes, trees, or anything raccoons can hide behind or under.
Raccoons are also less likely to try to dig under coops, try to unlock doors, or try to break through a fence when they’re in an open space.
Because I live in a secluded area with many predators, my chickens only free-range when my dogs are with them during the day. Other than that, my chickens stay in their very large run or they’re locked up in their coop at night.
Dogs can be some of the best protectors against raccoons. Even the scent of a dog is very frightening to most predators, so they will likely leave your chickens alone.
However, there’s a potential problem with having a guard dog. Some dogs are very playful. Some might want to chase the chickens around. By doing this, they can stress the chickens or accidentally kill them.
So, if you get a dog, be sure to supervise them at first. Make sure to correct your dog any time it seems to be disturbing your chickens.
If you’re thinking about getting a guard dog, keep in mind that dogs usually make better protectors if they were raised around chickens since they were puppies.
Raccoons don’t like the scent of ammonia (and neither do most humans). Placing ammonia-soaked rags around the edges of your yard can help deter raccoons from coming into the yard, but it might irritate you and the neighbors as well.
ammonia is a popular way for people to keep raccoons out of the chicken coop, I personally do not recommend this. I can’t handle the smell!
I’ve also heard other people say they’ll boil several
garlic cloves, a few onions, and a couple of hot peppers in a gallon of water. Then they spray this mixture around their coop. (I honestly haven’t tried this method yet because I haven’t had to resort to any deterrent sprays yet.)
If everything else has failed, you might also be able to humanely trap a raccoon. Just make sure to do your research first because different states have different laws about trapping wildlife! In some states, it’s very illegal to trap and relocate a raccoon.
If trapping and relocating wildlife is illegal in your state, my recommendation is to contact a wildlife organization (such as wildlife rescue or animal control) to see what your options are at this point.
If you do decide to trap a raccoon, you can throw marshmallows into the back of a humane live animal trap (Amazon), and smear peanut butter all over and under the trip plate.
And please make sure to visit the trap often! You don’t want to make a trapped animal suffer in harsh conditions, like being in the hot sun for too long without water.
Conclusion: How Do You Keep Raccoons Away Permanently?
Having only one method of keeping raccoons and other predators away from your chicken coop is not ideal. Raccoons are constantly finding new ways to get to their prey, so it is important to have multiple layers of protection.
The first layer of protection should be a predator apron. This will deter raccoons from digging underneath the coop and getting to the chickens.
The second layer of protection could be an expertly designed predator-proof chicken coop (Amazon), which is a secure enclosure that keeps chickens safe against raccoons and other predators.
The third layer of protection could be to use hardware cloth instead of chicken wire. This will make it impossible for raccoons to access the inside of the coop through windows and vents.
The fourth layer of protection could be a fence with deterrent spikes and a predator apron to stop raccoons from climbing over or digging under a fence.
The fifth layer of protection could be predator deterrent lights. These flashing lights will startle most raccoons and disrupt their hunting behavior. When used in combination with other predator-proofing measures, they can be an effective way to protect chickens from harm.
Finally, make sure you
use raccoon-proof locks so that they don’t have access to the chickens through chicken coop doors.
Having multiple layers of protection is the best way to keep your chickens safe from raccoons. With a predator-proof chicken coop, hardware cloth (Amazon), a predator apron, deterrent spikes (Amazon), and predator deterrent lights (Amazon), I haven’t lost a pet chicken to raccoons in over 20 years!