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The Truth About Badgers and Chickens: What You Need to Know

Ever watched a badger in action and thought about their dietary habits?

If you're a chicken owner, your curiosity might lean more toward one specific question - "Do badgers eat chickens?

Many of us have pondered this, especially those living where badgers are common.

In this article, we will explore the world of badgers, focusing on whether or not these fascinating creatures consider our feathered friends a part of their menu. 

We’ll also learn what badgers typically eat, how to safeguard chickens from potential badger attacks, and the legal aspects involved.

 If this sounds like something you want to know, read on!


What are Badgers?

Badgers, known for their distinct black and white-striped faces and grey bodies, are sturdy, medium-sized mammals from various parts of the world.

But what makes them truly remarkable is their adaptability. They thrive in various habitats, from secluded woods to open fields and even near human dwellings.

A close-up shot of three badgers enjoying a playful moment together on the ground

Experts categorize badgers as "opportunistic" eaters, meaning their diet is diverse—comprising whatever is available and easily accessible.

From munching on juicy earthworms and other small invertebrates to enjoying a variety of plants, fruits, and nuts, they eat a little bit of everything. 

Now, you might be wondering—where do chickens come into the picture? That's what we're getting at next!

Do Badgers Eat Chickens?

Badgers eat what they can find, and sometimes, they find chickens.

Because chickens live on the ground, badgers can catch them, mainly if they don't live in a safe place. Even though badgers do not often eat chickens, they are part of the many things badgers can eat.

Sometimes, badgers do hurt and eat chickens. People who own chickens have said it happens, especially when badgers can't find other food or chickens that are not well-protected.

So, the simple answer is: Yes, badgers eat chickens, but not often. It happens only when the badger looks for an effortless meal.

A free-range hen roaming around the barnyard

 

How To Protect Chickens from Badgers?

1. Fencing and Safe Coops

Badgers can climb well, dig, and chew through some fence materials. So, pick a demanding and challenging fence for badgers to climb over or bite through, like chain link or wire mesh.

The height of the fence also matters. Make it 1.2 meters tall to stop badgers from climbing over it. Since badgers can dig, the wall should go deep into the ground. Put the fence about 0.5 meters below the ground to stop badgers from digging under it.

You can add an L-shaped footer at the base that goes a few feet outwards to block badgers from digging.

Besides guarding the area's border, making the chicken coop safe is essential, too. Badgers will try to break into the enclosure to get an easy meal.

Ensure the coop has a strong floor, walls, and a locked door. A wire mesh floor can stop badgers from digging into the coop from below. You can even raise the coop off the ground to make it harder for badgers to get to it.

The entrance is another place to make secure. Use a lock that a badger can't open easily. Automatic chicken coop doors that close at night and open in the morning can give extra safety. This makes it harder for badgers to get in during the night.

Remember, the goal is to make it difficult for badgers to reach your chickens. This way, they'll look for more accessible food somewhere else.

 

2. Use of Traps and Electric Fences

Traps and electric fences are two methods to prevent badgers from getting to your chickens.

The good thing about Electric Fences is that it can do an excellent job of keeping badgers away. When a badger touches the fence, it gets a slight shock that doesn’t hurt too much but is surprising. This can stop the badger from trying to reach your chickens.

Traps may also help deal with badgers that are causing trouble. The great thing about these traps is that they can catch the badger without hurting it. You can then move the badger far away from your chickens.

However, it's essential to consider that using these methods requires some knowledge for proper usage and installation.

Improper handling can cause harm to badgers and other wildlife. It might also lead to legal issues, as some places have laws regarding trapping and relocating wild animals.

You also need to consider the maintenance of these tools.

Electric fences need a regular check-up to ensure they deliver the right amount of electricity. 

Traps also need cleaning and proper baiting to entice the badger.

Even with these factors, traps, and electric fences could be beneficial tools for chicken owners dealing with badger issues.

As long as you're using these responsibly and in a well-informed way, they can help secure your chicken's safety.

An electric fence installed with a lightning icon as warning sign

3. Managing food and waste

Badgers have a strong sense of smell and can be attracted to the smell of chicken feed. Store the chicken feed in a secure container with a tight-fitting lid to avoid drawing them to your property.

Preferably, keep it in a locked shed or another shelter so badgers cannot access it. Badgers are attracted to chicken feed and food scraps, wastewater, and leftovers. Remove any food waste daily and dispose of it properly.

 

4. Implementing Predator Deterrent Tools

You can use these few tools to discourage badgers:

  • Lights: Installing motion-activated lights around the chicken coop can startle badgers at night and may deter them.

  • Noise: Sound-based deterrents, such as an outdoor radio or ultrasonic sound devices, may also keep badgers at bay.

  • Scent: Badgers possess a keen sense of smell. Applying specific scents that they find unappealing can serve as an effective deterrent. Among these scents are citronella, lavender, rosemary, and marigold. Sprinkling or planting these around your chicken coop could discourage badgers from venturing too near.

Legalities and Ethical Considerations

When dealing with badgers, following the law and being fair is essential. In many places, there are laws to protect badgers. It is usually against the law to hurt or bother them on purpose, destroy their homes, or keep or sell them without permission.

Beyond the legal considerations, there are ethical concerns, too. We all share the Earth and should do our part to keep all animals safe. We should only think of traps or deterrents as the last options.

The best thing is to make your chickens safe without bothering the badgers too much. You can do that by protecting your chickens better, avoiding things badgers don't like, or making your chickens' area less attractive to badgers.

Always ask for help from people who know about local wildlife, animal welfare, or professionals dealing with animal control. They can guide you on the best and correct way to handle badgers in your area.


Final Word

While it's true that badgers may target chickens under certain conditions, this doesn't mean we cannot live in harmony with these woodland creatures.

By implementing effective and humane strategies, you can guard your poultry from unexpected badger visits while considering the instincts of both chickens and badgers.

One of such simple yet impactful strategies is the use of bird netting. 

An easy-to-install and cost-effective solution, bird netting can provide an essential line of defense for your coop, particularly against aerial predators.

Consider this Ultimate Tangle-free Chicken Coop Netting a worthy investment for this purpose.


FAQs

  1. What time of the day are badgers most active?

Badgers are primarily nocturnal animals. They are most active at night but can also be seen at dusk and dawn.

  1. Can badgers climb over fences?

Badgers are not renowned climbers. Still, they can overcome a low fence, mainly if determined. Ensuring your fence is secure and over a meter high can help deter them.

  1. How do badgers get into chicken coops?

Badgers are strong diggers. They can tunnel under fences and walls to access a chicken coop.

  1. Do badgers scare off easily?

Some badgers may be scared off by bright lights or loud noises, but others can become quite bold, especially if they have become used to human activity.

  1. How to deter badgers humanely?

There are various ways to deter badgers humanely, including secure fencing, scent deterrents, and removing attractions such as poultry food and bedding.

  1. What should I do if a badger frequently visits my chicken coop?

If a badger frequently visits your chicken coop, consult local wildlife experts for advice. They can provide safe and humane options to deter the badger from your property.

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