In our family full of young boys, we have always loved having domesticated animals around the house.
Our cats love to be outside and occasionally we find them stalking around our chicken area, though they typically leave our chickens alone.
This got me thinking, what do I need to do to keep my chickens safe from stray or other outside cats?
Cats most often will leave your fully grown chickens alone, since adult chickens are the same size, if not bigger, than cats. However, cats will go after chicks or adolescent chickens if unprotected including eating eggs.
Here are 5 ways you can keep your chicks and adolescent chickens safe from cats.
Get a rooster
Check your city ordinances and make sure it allows for roosters.
If you live in the country, you are probably fine, but if you live in a bigger city, there may be an ordinance against having roosters.
Where people live close together, you may anger neighbors by bringing home a noisy rooster.
Make sure to check with your neighbors and get their thoughts before making the purchase.
If you live in the country, there probably is not a city ordinance against roosters, but check it out just to make sure.
You will also want to consider how close your chickens are to your home.
Roosters will make noise in the early morning, so if they are too close to your house, you might be waking up earlier than you want to.
An option to avoid this is have your chicken area further away from your house, but then it is harder for you to keep an eye on them.
Roosters are not needed for egg production, but they are great protectors of your chickens.
A rooster will confront any animals that come near your chickens, even if it means the death of your rooster.
The rooster can also herd your hens together, making them easier to protect from any predator.
Some good rooster breeds for protection are the following
- Rhode Island Red
- Barred Rock
- Easter Eggers
While roosters are protecting your chickens, they might also see children as threats, so make sure your kids know how to protect themselves incase a rooster decides to attack them.
Get a farm dog
Just like how your dog protects your house against the delivery man, a farm dog will also protect your chickens against predators.
Here are some of the best dog breeds to protect your chickens
- Great Pyrenees
- Sheep dog
If you decide on the option of using a dog to protect your chickens and chicks, tread carefully.
Dogs need to be trained and regularly monitored to make sure they are not hurting the chickens.
If your farm dog attacks a chicken, they need to be reprimanded immediately.
Otherwise, your dog will think it is a game and continue to attack the chickens
We have had some of the sweetest dogs ever, but once a chicken got out and one of our dogs went quickly to work.
The chicken barely had time to think.
For more information on training your dog to protect your chickens, go here
Invest in some quality fencing
When it comes to protecting your chickens with fencing, there are two viable options:
- Chicken run
- Chicken fencing
Both have their pros and cons
- Keeps your chickens fully enclosed and safe from predators
- Typically comes with perches and walks, so you don’t have to buy anything additional
- Mobile runs allow you to move the chickens around the yard with little effort
- Depending on the number of chickens you have, purchasing a chicken run can cost quite a bit. A chicken run for 3 chickens can be as little as $200 or as much as $500. If you want more than three chickens, then you will need invest in a bigger chicken run. We have 8 chickens and 2 roosters, so this was too expensive of an option for us.
- Smaller chicken runs do not typically allow for weather protection or privacy for the chickens
- Putting up fencing gives your chickens plenty of space to walk around
- Fencing is generally pretty cheap. You can find welded wire fencing at your local hardware store. A 5 foot high, 50 foot long fence is around $70 at Home Depot and will give you 156 ¼ square feet of coverage, or 625 square feet of coverage if you set it up in a corner of your yard that already has fences. Do not forget to purchase some T-posts for every 4-5 feet of fence.
- You will want a place for your chickens to roost, so you will have to purchase or build a chicken coop. A walk in chicken coop can be as much as $1,000.
Cats become a worry if your chickens are not fully enclosed, so getting some good fencing will help keep your chickens safe.
A cat can jump up to 5 feet, so if you are worried about them getting your chickens, a fence 5 feet or more will do the trick.
If you want to protect your chickens and chicks from other predators as well as cats, get a 6 foot fence and bury at least 6 inches of it into the ground.
This will help protect against other predators that might try to dig under the fence.
Also, make sure that the fence you bury is facing outwards underground to discourage diggers.
In addition to keeping cats and other predators OUT, you also want to consider keeping your chickens IN.
Lightweight breed chickens can jump upwards of 6 feet, so clipping the chickens’ wings should also be an option.
Cover your brooder
We have used cardboard boxes for brooders, but with cats that just will not do. You will want to purchase a chicken brooder.
Most chick brooders have an opening at the top that allows you to perform daily checks on the chicks.
The opening is also used for a heat lamp, which you need when the chicks are really young since they cannot regulate their temperature on their own.
Because of this opening, chicks are vulnerable to different predators. Chicks are just the right size for cats to play with and devour.
The best option for keeping your baby chickens safe in the brooder is to put a cover on it.
You will still want the heat from the heat lamp to get in, so using some poultry fencing over the top of the brooder will give you the defense against cats you need.
Also check and make sure there are no other openings in your brooder. No matter how small, cats will reach their paw in and try to pull a chick out. Cover up any additional holes as needed.
Trees in your chicken area can serve multiple purposes. The first is to give them shade from the sun and also from predators.
If you grow the trees within the chicken area, they can also provide sustenance for the chickens.
Growing fruit or nut trees within the chicken area gives the chickens some extra food that they can nibble on.
Make sure that you grow the trees in the chicken area because cats are great climbers.
We once walked into our backyard to find a neighbors cat almost all the way to the top of a tall mulberry tree.
If a cat can get access to climb your tree, they will get into your chicken area. So be safe and grow the trees in your chicken area.
Chickens are great to have around. They give you eggs and eat bugs around your house. So take care of your chickens and they will take care of you.