The raccoon is one of the most determined natural predators that chickens face in the wild. Raccoons are as deadly to humans as chickens because of their cunning and manual dexterity.
Raccoons also transmit diseases like rabies, making them as harmful to humans as chickens. So the most straightforward approach to keep raccoons away from your chickens is to make sure they can’t get into the coop.
You can deter these intelligent carnivores from protecting chickens from destroying your flock by predator-proofing your chickens’ coop, maintaining a clear, well-lit line of view, and keeping the area around the coop free of any potential hiding locations.
In our guide, you can learn all the ways how to protect chickens from raccoons in your yard. By the end, you will have enough information on how to keep raccoons out of the chicken coop, no matter if you live in the country or urban areas. (Read Can Chickens Eat Shrimp)
How To Keep Raccoons Out of Chicken Coop
Here is a quick overview of what you need to know about protecting chickens from raccoons. Raccoons can grow up to 30 inches long and weigh 20 pounds. As a result, chickens are no match for them.
Raccoons are the top land predators of chickens in the US. It is found virtually only in North America, with limited introductions to Europe and Asia.
How Do Raccoons Hunt?
Raccoons who come into your coop or run normally murder many birds and leave the remains where they were killed rather than taking them away. Raccoons usually only take the contents of your birds’ crops and occasionally the chest. They destroy your flocks’ lives without eating much of their victims.
They can scale buildings and fences and reach their hands through wire mesh too narrow for their body. If they can only reach parts of your birds, they will do so. Raccoons can access intricate latches and closures, dig under fences, and enter runs.
Keep raccoons out of your yard. Don’t leave pet food such as dog food outside and keep wild bird feeders and seeds away from them. Raccoons may be drawn to water sources in your yard in dry locations or during dry seasons.
Raccoons will try to tear wire mesh off your coop or bend it so they can squeeze through. Don’t use chicken wire: it doesn’t deter predators.
Predators like raccoons can rip it like tissue paper. So, it’s best to use 1/2″ or 1/4″ hardware cloth with a fine mesh to keep raccoons out. To keep raccoons out of your run, connect wire mesh to the bottom and cover it with bedding, or use an apron fence around the outside.
It can require complex latches or even a combination lock as raccoons are smart, but until they are starving and all their easy meal sources are gone, they will not be forced to figure out something extremely complicated in the real world. (Read Can Chickens Eat Bird Seed)
The finest coop latches include two or more steps. For example, an easy way to protect a gate latch from raccoons is to put a screw-lock carabiner in the bottom hole.
Others padlock everything. This isn’t always essential, and it can be inconvenient for you. But a padlock ensures their safety.
Raccoons are nocturnal, so if you let your brood out during the day, make careful to protect them at night.
Raccoons can carry rabies, so be cautious if you see one out during the day. It’s hungry, but it’s also sick. Your birds can’t catch rabies since their metabolism is different, but humans can.
What Scent Will Keep Raccoons Away?
When raising chickens, you may ask, do raccoons eat chickens. Like other predators such as foxes, these animals kill multiple birds rather than just killing one whole bird to eat.
Besides this, a wild raccoon is fond of eggs, so when you raise free-range chickens, the whole flock can be under threat from many sides.
Below are several ways to stop your backyard chickens from being easy prey. (Learn How to Get Rid Of Raccoons)
Make Property Unattractive To Raccoons
Raccoons prefer simple foods, so make sure the lids on your garbage cans are secure. Keeping garbage bins closed won’t be enough, and you will need something to secure the lids.
Bring pet food inside, especially at night, as raccoons have a strong sense of smell, and they may smell leftover guard dog food and then take a shine to your chicken run and backyard chickens.
Remove bird feeders and clean up fallen seeds, as these are a favorite of these masked bandits. You may think these feeders are safe, but raccoons enjoy climbing. Place bird feeders where they can’t climb up or down or bring the feeders inside at night.
Using a raccoon-proof bird feeder is another option, and these can also be suitable to stop squirrels and larger birds from eating food from your wild bird feeders.
Raccoons are drawn to water, so as with a feeder, make sure your birdbath, pond, or swimming pool are covered at night.
If you have fruit trees, then fallen fruit makes an ideal snack, or if any birds happen to feast on this fruit, the raccoons can take advantage. Raccoons love feeding on small birds and small animals.
Use Smells Raccoons Hate
Raccoons have a highly developed sense of smell, which can take them straight to your chicken coop, but you can capitalize on their smell as a deterrent.
Cayenne pepper, chili, hot peppers, garlic, onions, and ammonia are all unpleasant to raccoons. Cayenne pepper sprinkled across your yard is a safe approach to dissuade raccoons from entering your home in the first place.
You could even make homemade raccoon repellent. Boil a gallon of water with cayenne pepper and 2 to 3 jalapenos and onion.
Cook these for 20 minutes at a low temperature, and then spray the perimeter of your chicken coop. You can increase the contents if it doesn’t make your coop raccoon-proof.
Besides these natural ingredients, raccoons are repulsed by the scent of ammonia or bleach.
You can purchase predator urine with scents from animals such as dogs, coyotes, large cats, and coyote urine.
You can spray this around your coop, yet you can find that as chickens are prey animals, these scents can make them uncomfortable in their coop; thus, ammonia may still be the best option to protect small animals like chickens from these vicious killers.
This is like the above approach of ensuring raccoons do not enter your yard. Raccoons are carnivores by nature, yet they enjoy raiding garbage cans for alternative food sources.
Fortify Your Fence
If your coop has been strengthened against any weak spots, such as around the coop apron, check to defend against a burrowing raccoon, check if your fence can help keep your chickens safe.
A fence around the backyard is a larger project than the walls of a chicken coop, but extending the base of your fence can make your yard safer for chickens or other animals you have at home.
If extending the foundation isn’t an option, make sure any visible holes are filled using the same methods you used to predator-proof your chicken coop.
Use a Dog
Having a guard dog around prospective food sources can often be an option to prevent potential predators that kill chickens. In addition, a trained guard dog can cover other areas besides this and keep your home safe from many threats.
However, raccoons can attack dogs or pets if cornered. They can pass this on if your guard dog or pets get bitten to carry rabies.
Do Raccoons Attack Chickens During The Day?
Also, note the raccoon’s natural sleep pattern. Raccoons are nocturnal by nature, but they hunt throughout the day as humans invade their habitats.
Keep an eye out for raccoons, as they are the most prevalent carriers of rabies in North America compared to other predators.
If you observe a raccoon during the day, it may be harmless or ill, so proceed with extreme caution and keep your pet dogs out of the way of the raccoon in case the raccoon has rabies or other diseases.
Predator-Proofing Chicken Coop
The coop itself provides the best security for your chickens, and if built well, it should keep predators like raccoons from attacking them. However, because raccoons are small and agile, there are additional elements to consider that could be exploited:
Raccoons have many sensory receptors in their front paws they use as hands. Thus, they can open, raccoons can deal with simple latches with their paws.
A simple latch may deter larger and bigger predators, but raccoons have more intelligence and physical dexterity than overall strength. Make sure latches or doors are fastened with twine or padlocks, so a raccoon can’t open the coop.
Gaps and Holes
A raccoon can also quickly exploit any weak place in the coop’s walls or surroundings. Because raccoons are relentless predators, they have been witnessed tearing away at any gap in a coop’s fortifications until it is large enough to slide through before entering and feeding on the vulnerable chickens and their eggs.
Regularly inspect your coop for any holes or openings. As they can burrow, installing a coop apron can deter them from trying if they have to dig too far. Burying fencing material takes more effort than installing an apron, yet it can save your flock or stop access to the eggs.
Chicken wire will not keep a hungry raccoon from entering your chicken coop despite its name. A raccoon can reach through and rip at the opening until it is large enough to enter your chicken coop or eggs.
Instead, use small-mesh fencing material or hardware cloth fencing as the welded edges of the wire makes it challenging for raccoons to obtain access.
Instead of chicken wire, use steel wool to fill up holes in your coop, but use galvanized hardware cloth fencing for longer lengths so raccoons can’t get through the links to gain access into the coop and keep your chickens safe.
Keep an Open Line of Sight
While raccoons are smart, they are still wild animals that can be readily startled or scared away by a human guarding the chicken coop. So make sure your chicken coop is visible from your house so you can respond quickly and efficiently to deter raccoons.
Installing a lighting system around the coop will also deter potential predators. As long as the coop is dark enough for your chickens to sleep, bright light can surprise predators like raccoons into fleeing. In addition, there are typically motion-activated alarm systems in raccoon-infested areas that turn on a dazzling light, scaring away would-be coop-robbers.
Your chickens should be safe from raccoons if you follow these procedures to secure your coop. If raccoons continue to try to come into your coop, check to see if it is possible to humanely trap and relocate raccoons that are permissible in your state.
If humane catching and relocation of raccoons are authorized, put a couple of marshmallows in the back of a humane live animal trap and set it in your yard.
If you catch a raccoon, take it to a wooded place a few miles away from your home. If doing so isn’t legal, you’ll have to hire wildlife rescue to do it for you.
However, it would help if you took precautions when doing so. For example, you can see how a raccoon can bite a dog when cornered, so trying to release a raccoon from a trap can lead to a bite. Thick gloves are required, yet the raccoon can scrabble, and its paws could scratch.
A chicken is worth protecting, yet it could be better to get someone else to catch and release a raccoon rather than risk your health.