Common Chicken Predators Hanging Around The Coop

There isn’t much worse than counting your flock at the end of the day and finding one less hen in the coop. (Except not knowing what happened to your chicken).

That’s why it’s important to dig deep and learn about the common chicken predators in your area. Knowing what you’re up against can help you protect your flock from the beginning.

To help you get acquainted with your nemeses, we’ve put together this list of common chicken predators so you can plan ahead and keep your favorite hens around for a long, long time.

Raccoons

While raccoons don’t always go directly for the whole chicken, they do love to eat their eggs. 

A raccoon in the coop may introduce bacteria and disease into your flock (and your eggs). So if you see any of these cute little paw prints nearby, you know you’ve got a raccoon hanging around your coop. 

While raccoons are most interested in eggs, in the dead of winter, when they’re extra hungry, they may kill a chicken for supper (and usually won’t even eat the entire bird). 

Opossum

These little tracks come from an opossum loitering around your chicken coop. An opossum would rarely kill a chicken for its meal, but it isn’t rare for them to feast on eggs (just like those little raccoon bandits). 

You might be able to determine which predator is egg-eating by the location of the leftover shells. For example, raccoons can carry eggs a ways from the nest to feast, while opossums will typically nosh on them inside the coop.

Foxes

Foxes are one of the more well-known critters that supplement their meals with chickens from the coop. They’re sneaky, can get into some of the most well-planned coops, and usually come back time and time again.

Fox footprints closely resemble a dog’s footprint. The main difference? A fox has a more narrow pawprint with thinner claw marks. 

If your chickens go missing completely, with nothing but feathers strewn about, you can bet it was a fox or dog. 

Domestic Dogs

Unfortunately, our sweet pooches also enjoy a chicken dinner from time-to-time and if your dog hasn’t been trained to leave your chooks alone, you might have a problem on your hands. 

You’ll know your dog is up to no good because you’ll probably see the massacre happen or the carcass of the dearly departed within your yard. 

On the other hand, if the dog belongs to a neighbor, you may have to investigate the crime scene further and follow the clues to pinpoint the culprit. 

Coyotes

Coyotes are vocal animals, and while their paw prints look similar to most dogs, they can often be heard in the dead of night, calling to one another. 

If you have a coyote problem, you may need to consider a livestock guardian dog or at least upping your security around the chicken coop. 

With that being said, you might be able to determine if your coop has a coyote problem if the tracks left behind are less prominent than a dog.

Cats

If you live in an area where large cats, like bobcats or cougars, hang out, you’ll be in for a real war. These cats are smart, quiet, and quick. It’s difficult to identify a large wild cat unless you catch it in the act. 

If you think you’ve got a wild cat problem, consider putting up a trail came to see if your intuition is right. 

On rare occasions, barn cats may attempt to kill a chicken. However, it’s not a common occurrence. 

Once a barn cat gets pecked at by a chicken or two, they typically learn their lesson. On the other hand, young chicks and tiny bantams are more prone to domestic cat attacks than a full-grown standard chicken. 

Aerial Predators

Hawks, owls, and eagles are also common predators of chickens. You’ll know your chook was attacked by an aerial predator if they appear crushed, carried away, or ripped apart. 

You might see some tracks of these birds nearby, but in most cases, the attack is so stealth that there is little evidence of the attacker. 

Skunks

Skunks, like raccoons and opossums, are more interested in chicken eggs than the whole bird. 

Skunks will enter your coop, feast on eggs, and leave the shells behind. And on rare occasions, they may attack and kill a chicken for their meal. 

You’ll know a skunk is around if you smell them, but also by their 5-toed feet.

Weasels

Weasels are sneaky little critters with the ability to slither into small spaces to get to your unsuspecting chickens. While they’re small, they can pack a nasty punch. 

Weasels are known to kill chickens and eat very little of them. So if your chicken is dead, and looks like it never became someone’s meal, it’s possible the weasel is to blame. 

According to Critter Control, “A weasel footprint has five clawed toes surrounding a V-shaped paw pad.“ 

Snakes

Speaking of slithery critters, snakes are also on the list of common chicken predators. With that being said, they’re most interested in your breakfast…the eggs. 

Some wonder why their egg production has dropped, but soon learn that a sneaky snake has been eating their eggs…whole. Usually, a snake goes unnoticed, but if you suspect this reptile is your culprit, you may find snake skins nearby or a slithery path in the dirt. 

When it comes down to it, there are many predators of chickens and the best way to keep your chickens safe is to know what kind of critters you’re dealing with in your specific region. Then, plan your coop accordingly to keep your flock as safe as possible. Check out our article on why you need hardware cloth for flock protection (hint: chicken wire isn’t enough).

Henny+Roo regularly includes predator protection in our monthly boxes for chicken keepers. Items like predator urine protectants, reflective bird deterrent tape, and even inflatable faux snake decoys have been featured in the boxes of treats, health items, coop products and gifts that our subscribers enjoy monthly. Check out our subscription and non-subscription offerings at: hennyandroo.com

A flag holder for your May Henny+Roo box garden flag

Photo of Henny+Roo's Welcome to our Coop Garden Flag

As you may have seen in our May 2021 Henny+Roo Chicken Keepers Box sneek peeks, all subscribers will receive our new and exclusive Welcome to our Coop Garden Flag! We think this will be such a cute, farmhouse style outdoor decor piece for your home.

Because it would not fit in our boxes, we are not including a flag stand. If you don’t currently have one, we recommend this one on Amazon:

We purchased this flag holder for our garden flag at home because it’s sturdy, the pieces screw together for a better fit, and it has clips to hold the flag in place in the wind. And, it’s inexpensive.

If you don’t wish to purchase a flag holder, you can still enjoy your garden flag! Hang it as a banner inside your coop, use tacks to hang it on the coop doors, use a dowel rod and some jute twine to hang it on your front door. There are lots of alternatives to the push-in-the-ground style flag holder.

Not a subscriber? Learn more about our monthly deliveries of supplies, treats and surprises for chicken keepers here. You can also purchase the Welcome to our Coop Garden Flag without a subscription here.

Happy Spring!

Selecting Spring Plants Chickens Won’t Eat

The deer in our area don’t care for Virginia bluebells, and neither do our chickens.

Chickens love eating plants! Grass, leaves, flowers – they’ll eat everything leaving your yard bare if they like what you have growing.

A rule of thumb that we go by when selecting plants for our yard is to select those that are deer-resistant. We have lots of deer in our area, but also have a fully landscaped yard that the chickens don’t bother because they’re all deer-resistant. We are in gardening zone 5, and are currently enjoy pachysandra, vinca, bluebells, bleeding hearts, pulmonaria, forget-me-nots, geranium, daffodils and various Spring ephemerals.

Your plant nursery or online source for plants will usually indicate if a plant is deer-resistant. You can also Google “deer-resistant plants for zone [your zone] or [your state].”

While chickens might eat anything if they’re hungry or bored enough, selecting plants that deer won’t eat may be your solution to keeping chickens and a beautiful garden.

A look inside the Henny+Roo May Box for Chicken Keepers

Subscribers, take a look inside your May box! Your April box is in transit, and while you await its arrival, we are putting the finishing touches on your May box. First, your chickens will come running for the @exoticnutrition Chicken Treat Variety Pack. And you’ll be able to welcome guests with our cute Henny+Roo exclusive farmhouse-style garden flag!

The April box sold out, and we fully expect the May box to sell out too. Because of the limited supply, the May box will not be available on our website as a non-subscription purchase. You have to be a current subscriber to get it, so it’s a great time to start or reactivate your subscription!

Check out our monthly terms at hennyandroo.com 🐓

You Need Hardware Cloth for Your Chicken Coop

The rustic fencing we’ve come to know and love is called chicken wire for a reason, right?

But names can be deceiving, and just because its been used for chickens for a long time, doesn’t mean chicken wire is the safest option for your chicken coop. 

The truth is, if you want to crawl into bed at night knowing your chickens are resting peacefully, and safely, consider using hardware cloth for coop construction.

Why?

Let’s dig into the differences between hardware cloth and chicken wire, and when each of the two can come in handy.

Chicken Wire

The first thing you need to know about chicken wire is that its main purpose is to keep chickens in…and not necessarily to keep predators out.

Its signature hexagonal design (now used in many rustic crafter treasures) is sturdy enough to prevent your chooks from escaping their designated living space but it won’t keep the hungry predators out.

If you’ve ever grabbed ahold of the chicken wire we’ve all come to know and trust, you’d know it’s quite flimsy. 

Strong predators can bend and flex chicken wire much too easily. And predators with sneaky paws, or claws, can easily kill a chicken from the outside of the pen and drag it through chicken wire for a feast.

But that’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for chicken wire, in fact, we use it in a variety of ways that won’t put our chickens’ lives in jeopardy.

When to Use Chicken Wire

Chicken wire has its place in the chicken coop. It’s best used in spaces you don’t plan to keep your chooks long-term.

For example, temporary cages, used to transport chickens from place to place, are fine uses for chicken wire. 

But if you thought you’d rely on chicken wire for anything permanent, you might wake up to an empty coop someday.

With that being said, if you know your local predators well, and plan the location of your chicken wire strategically, you may be able to get away with using it in certain ways, although it is not recommended for predator protection.

Additionally, chicken wire can serve purposes other than protection from predators.

For example, if you’d like to keep two different breeds of chickens separated within your chicken run, you can use chicken wire to do so. 

Have some baby chicks that you’re slowly introducing to the flock? Chicken wire can be a fantastic temporary container for your young birds. 

Chicken wire can also be used to keep your chickens out of places they shouldn’t be…like your flower beds or garden. 

The takeaway here?

Yes, it’s good for some things.

In truth, it’s been around since the 1800s so it’s definitely a timeless farm tool. 

With that being said, chicken wire isn’t the end-all be-all for protecting your chickens.

Hardware Cloth

When planning your chicken coop, one of the first things to think about is deterring your local predators. 

Unfortunately, our beloved flocks are at the bottom of the food chain, and while some chickens are savvier than others…there’s always one that’s a bit more aloof and easy pickings for predators. 

Hardware cloth is the perfect solution because it is much sturdier than chicken wire.

It can easily be buried along the coop border to prevent sly foxes and stray dogs from digging underneath it. 

And it holds up to the weight of some of the stronger predators. 

Additionally, hardware cloth is available in welded wire which makes it stronger than woven chicken wire. (although some hardware cloth is available in a woven format as well).

As a bonus, you can find different size “holes” in hardware cloth. So if you’ve got snakes, or weasels, as predators, you can find hardware cloth small enough to keep even the tiniest of predators out of your chicken coop.

While you’ll find that hardware cloth is significantly more pricy than chicken wire, your peace of mind is worth every penny. We have used this hardware cloth, ordered from Amazon, on our chicken run.

When to Use Hardware Cloth with Chickens

Hardware cloth should be used as a protective barrier between your chickens and any area in which predators lurk. 

In other words, your hardware cloth is the fortress surrounding your chicken coop. 

We also recommend hardware cloth for chicken tractors and for broilers being raised for meat. Especially if your tractors aren’t close to your home where you would otherwise hear distress from birds under attack.

In either situation, you’ll be happy you used the stronger layer of protection rather than something easily broken into, like chicken wire. 

If you’re unsure of which type of wire to use with your chickens, we recommend going with welded, hardware cloth over chicken wire. 

Our motto here is, better safe than sorry!

Remember, there’s a purpose for both types of wire, but if you want that restful night’s sleep, go with the hardware cloth to prevent losses.

And don’t fret, if you’ve already built your coop, you can slowly start to replace your chicken wire with hardware cloth. 

We know you take the safety of your chickens very seriously, so take it one step at a time and start doing a little remodeling. Your chooks won’t mind one bit. 


Henny+Roo is the first and foremost subscription box for backyard chickens keepers. Each month, we ship high-quality treats, coop products, wellness items and other supplies for your flock, along with useful gifts for you. Our monthly boxes and non-subscription products make wonderful gifts for the chicken keeper in your life, even if that’s you! Check us out at: hennyandroo.com