We got chicken coop #1 finished this weekend, so yesterday we moved 30 of our chickens over to the farm. They found the whole experience fairly stressful. I guess most of us wouldn’t enjoy being chased around a garage, stuffed into a box, and set loose in a strange room we’d never seen.
The chickens adjusted pretty well, but they haven’t quite mastered the coop/run transition. On the first night I was worried they wouldn’t figure out that they should go into the coop at night, so I went back out to the farm just after the sun had gone down to see how they were doing. Sure enough they were huddled in the corner of the run, exposed to both the weather and any curious animals with the ability to dig. I went in to try to herd them into the coop, and I heard something scuffling around in the grass in front of one of the storage sheds. It was a very large skunk not more than ten yards away from the bundle of chickens in the corner of the chicken run. Not good. I put them in the coop as quickly as I could and went to check on the skunk which had moved behind the storage shed. There I found a little tiny skunk with a large tail. Not the same skunk. There were two skunks. Skunks are great diggers and like to eat small chickens, and the weakness in our mobile chicken coop/run is that it wouldn’t be too difficult to dig under the walls, and inside of those walls, in full view and smell of the skunk, were 30 small chickens. Fortunately, the next morning the chickens were alive and well and seemed to be enjoying their new location.
The skunks didn’t get them this time, and we’re hoping that the fact that the coop is a couple of feet off of the ground will help discourage predators from trying to break into it (if our chickens can figure out how to get inside of it – they were huddled in the corner of the run again tonight). We have heard that raccoons, skunks, and coyotes have all been seen on the property. Hopefully they’ll stick to hunting gophers.