Protecting Poultry from Pests
A good poultry house protects the birds from the elements (weather), injury, theft but most importantly, pests and predators.
Poultry require a dry, draft-free enclosure. This can be accomplished by building a relatively draft free house with windows and/or doors which can be opened for ventilation when necessary. Build the coop on high, well-drained areas. This prevents prolonged dampness and water saturation of the floor of the coop and outside runs. Face the front of the coop, the windows and outside run to the south which allows the sun to warm and dry the coop and soil. Allowing an adequate level of space per bird also helps keep the humidity level in the coop to a minimum.
Keeping poultry totally confined together with fence and covered runs are your best protection from predators and pests. If you are building a new facility, consider laying a concrete floor, and start the wall with one or two concrete blocks. This prevents rodents, snakes, predators and other pests from digging under the walls and the floors. Windows and doors must be securely covered with heavy-gauge mesh wire or screening when opened.With outside runs, bury the wire along the pen border at least 12″ deep, and toe the fence outward about 6 inches. This stops most predators from digging under the fence. Animals always dig at the base of a fence. By toeing the fence outward and burying it, the predator digs down right into more fencing. Some people run electric fencing around the outside of their pens 4″ off the ground about one foot from the main fence to discourage predators. If your outside runs are not predator-proof, you need to lock up your poultry before dark.
To prevent problems with hawks and owls, cover your outside runs with mesh wire or netting. A good ground cover of millet, broomcorn, sorghum or other tall leafy
vegetation also provides cover for the birds to hide under. Many times a 3-4 ft. grid over the pen constructed of boiling twine will give excellent protection from flying predators.
To protect the birds from theft, lock your building and pens securely whenever you are not home. Have your neighbors watch for visitors while you are away. Some people actually have burglar alarms in their bird coops. A protective dog kept near your coop usually works well to discourage predators and unwanted visitors.
Build your poultry house to prevent possible injury to your birds. Remove any loose or ragged wire, nails, or other sharp-edged objects from the coop. Eliminate all areas other than perches where the birds could perch more than 4 feet above the floor. Remove perch
ing areas such as window sills, nest boxtops, or electric cords whenever possible. These extra measures could eliminate any injury to you or your birds and may prevent damage to the coop, as well.