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Chicken Predator Signs in Winter

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Raccoon prints. Photo courtesy of The Forest Preserve District of Will County.

Winter offers a unique opportunity to make observations on who - or what - may be checking out your chicken coop.

During months without snow, usually the first sign of an interested ground-dwelling predator comes in the form of digging or chewing. Unfortunately, sometimes by the time a person sees it, it can be too late.

Fresh snowfall is a very telling canvas and can be an eye-opening tool to help keep your pets safe from harm. By walking the perimeter in the mornings or afternoons and looking for tracks or droppings, you can not only tell what has been hanging around, but how much time they're spending in certain areas as well. Some animals are quite cunning, and can zero-in on weak perimeter points that our human eyes have missed. If you see a large concentration of tracks or disturbance around a certain area, it's a good time to be double-checking to make sure there are no holes in hardware cloth, missing fasteners, rotted wood, etc.

If you aren't already familiar, getting to know animal tracks will come in handy so you can tell what you are dealing with. Foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and mink are all common predators of chickens in Minnesota and remain active through the winter. While they each may have a different method of operation, they're all very dangerous to your flock.

Here are a couple of good sites for tracking reference:

Three Rivers Park

Old Naturalist

MN DNR Reference Guide PDF

Even if you are fortunate enough to passed-up by some of these most of the time, it doesn't hurt to regularly monitor. I've also personally found a trail camera to be a good witness to any passerby. Plus, it's fun to look through the photos!

We get frequent visitors in the form of mice. After a particularly windy storm one day, some snow had blown into our mostly enclosed run. Although they can't breach the coop sleeping quarters, I was shocked to see the amount of tracks around the run from just from one night! Of course, mice can squeeze through the tiniest holes so I have few hopes of winning any battles.

Go Cluck sitting services include perimeter checks each day of the visit! If something of concern is found, we will contact you right away and work with you on options for keeping your flock safe until you return.

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