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The Great Chicken Caper

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Published on: Aug. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 27, 2010

hang around and starve. They're not exactly rocket scientists, but predators know enough to move on in response to an empty stomach. Still, the tempting odor of a nearby meal cannot be totally ignored, so they may pay an occasional visit in search of an easy target. If no food is available, the predator will move on to happier hunting grounds.

Problems start the first time the predator gains entry to the poultry house. A meal of even the oldest rooster will light a fire in a predator that never burns out - a fire that guides him back to that same chicken house time and again. The loss of a few egg-laying chickens will not put the family farm in jeopardy, although it's not something to be celebrated. But the nightly loss of a hundred chicks or turkey poults to a marauding raccoon can quickly ruin a major economic investment. One predator, unchecked, can threaten the kids' college tuition, or the interest payment on the bank loan.

Should a predator down a fatted hen, it is important to take immediate steps to either prevent a second successful visit or to remove the predator. The following tips may help reduce additional loss by predators:

Patch Holes

Place a bright light inside the poultry house at night and look from the outside for possible predator entry holes. An empty stomach with an attitude can squeeze through a small hole, so closely examine all potential openings. Predators often get in around the door of the poultry house, so make sure the door fits tight. Hinges should be strong enough to support the door's weight. If the door is sagging, replace or add hinges. Replace broken or rotten boards. Nail sheet metal or boards over holes or large cracks.

Wire

A predator digging under the walls of a building with a dirt floor can be discouraged by a small-mesh wire laid along the ground at the base of the building and nailed about a foot up on the building wall. Be sure to stake the wire to the ground or cover it with something heavy to keep the predator from moving it aside.

Electric Fencing

An electric fence is a handy tool for discouraging predators. Prefabricated electric fences can be rolled out and made operational in a matter of minutes. Home-built electric fences take longer to construct but are cheap to build and

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