GRIT Country Skills Series

Get Smart: Protecting the Flock from PREDATORS

Chicken keepers understand, without a doubt, that a farm is a tenuous balance of predators and prey—nature’s checks and balances. Chickens, after all, look for ways to die. So unless you build the poultry version of Fort Knox, or imprison your birds in a bunker with a concrete foundation, you will, on occasion, lose some souls to predators. The best strategy for stopping thieves is vigilance.

At our farm, the 30-plus laying hens roam free in a large fenced-off pen with the goats, adjacent to the pigs. They have a homemade coop in which they dutifully put themselves away each night at dusk, as well as an old Butler grain bin in which to take shelter. An enormous, hollowed out silver maple tree is their chosen spot to roost and enjoy the shade in the heat of the day. Admittedly, much of the ground is scratched bare (all the better for dust bathing), but a large area of

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