Purchased Aids for Predator Defense
As discussed in “Getting along with Predators”, preventing predation losses is mostly about close monitoring of your flock, shutting them up securely at night, and common sense—solving the challenge should only rarely require outside purchases. There are of course any number of accessories on offer to help deter predators. I’ve only used one of them, but will mention a couple others you might find useful in your situation.
You may see various motion-sensing geegaws advertised which flashlights or make noises or even release chemical smells when triggered, thus scaring away potential predators. From reports I’ve received from correspondents, they are unlikely to be effective. An exception may be Nite Guard, a small ( 2½x2x1 inches) solar-powered electronic device, easily mounted anywhere, that continuously emits pulses of red light from dusk to dawn to repel both ground and aerial predators. I met a couple of experienced flocksters with large flocks at a recent conference who swear by Nite Guard. Note, though, that multiple units may be required—the manufacturer recommends from one to four, depending on the likely predator and the nature of the area to be protected—and at $20 each, this solution costs more than simply keeping Fortress Gallus secure at night.
An automatic door opener
I’m home most of the time, so I simply shut up the henhouse at dusk. If your schedule prevents your doing so, you might want to install a device to automatically open and close the door to your coop. For do-it-yourselfers, an online search will yield an array of ingenious designs. Purchased units may feature a timer or light sensor to control activation of the motor, powered either by plug-in current or batteries, to open or close the door. A couple of options you might check out are Automatic Chicken Coop Door Openers and Foy’s Doorkeeper.
Electric Net Fencing
The one technological marvel that has become a fundamental management tool for me is electric net fencing, which gives close to absolute protection from any predator on the ground, while allowing me to range my birds where they can rustle some of their own grub or even do some productive work for me. My preferred source of electronet is Premier Fencing: Every member of Premier’s staff actually manages livestock using electric fencing, so all fencing and accessories they sell get rigorous real-world testing; service is excellent; and technical advice is expert, friendly, and thorough. Poultry electronet is available in various heights, from 28 to 48 inches (the nets I use are 42 inches), most typically 164 feet long. (If you’re new to electronet, go to the main Electric Netting page and “Click to View a Comparison Chart”.) Half-nets of 82 feet are available. I like to keep a few of those on hand to help a perimeter installation “come out right” without the complication of doubling the end of a net back on itself. I like a good tight installation—for better contact with a predator and more effective deterrence—so I add a separate fiberglass support rod in the middle of each panel of mesh, which otherwise may sag a bit too much for my taste. Premier now offers a 100-foot net with more interwoven posts, for a tighter fence without additional rods.