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Bobcat-Proof Your Chicken Coop – 9 Essential Strategies

A bobcat focused on stalking its prey from a wet grasses

 

You probably have chickens at home that you care about. But there's a problem. 

Bobcats love chickens, too, but not like we do. 

They see our chickens as an easy meal! You might wonder, "How can I keep these bobcats away from my chickens?"

This guide will teach you about bobcats and how to keep your chickens safe.

 Ready to learn? Let's get started.


Get To Know Bobcats

Bobcats are small wild cats. They have pointy ears and short tails. 

While they might look cute, they are also excellent hunters. 

They use their sharp claws and strong limbs to climb trees and walls and leap high. 

Nighttime is when they are most active.

Why would a bobcat be interested in your chickens?

Well, bobcats need to eat, and chickens can be easy. 

Imagine being a bobcat: it's been a long day, you're tired and hungry, and suddenly, you see a bunch of chickens. They are not too big, they can't run fast, and they can't fly away. To a bobcat, chickens look like an easy meal.

But there's more. Bobcats are not just good hunters; they are also genius. 

They do it quietly when they hunt without making a big mess.

 If a bobcat takes a chicken, you might notice once you see one of your chickens is gone. 

This makes it even harder to keep bobcats away, as you may still need to learn they are coming.

That's why it's essential to learn about bobcats. The more we understand them, the better we can protect our chickens.


How To Protect Chickens From Bobcats?

1. Invest in a Robust Chicken Coop

A robust and well-built chicken coop can make a huge difference in keeping bobcats from eating your chickens. 

Start by choosing a chicken coop of solid materials like wood or metal. 

Ensure it has a solid floor, strong walls, and a reliable door that closes securely. 

The holes in the chicken wire should be small enough so the bobcats can't get through the wire. 

Remember, bobcats are good climbers, so make sure the walls are tall and difficult to climb.

Check the coop every day for any weak spots or holes. If a bobcat or other predator finds a hole, it will try to get in, so fix any problems immediately. 

A sturdy chicken coop with chicken flock inside

 

2. Raise Your Coop Off the Ground

Raising your chicken coop off the ground can be a great way to keep your chickens safe. This can stop not just bobcats but also other small animals like raccoons.


Here's why: when the coop is above the ground, it gets harder for animals to reach it.

Imagine the animal getting close to the pen. They see the chickens inside and are ready to make a move. They can't catch the chickens because the coop is too high. They would have to climb, but that's not easy to do when there aren't places to grip or push off of.

Pay attention to how high you go if you raise your coop. A few feet should be enough. You want to ensure it's hard for animals to get in but easy for you to reach the chickens when needed.


3. Implement a High, Secure Fence

A fence around your chicken coop can be helpful. It's like having a big, strong wall that keeps the bobcats out.

How high should it be? Remember how bobcats can climb and jump well. 

That's why your fence should be tall. Around six to eight feet is a good height. This makes it hard for bobcats to jump over.

You can use many things to build your fence, but it has to be strong. Chicken wire or mesh is a good option. 


Whatever you choose, make sure it doesn't have any big holes. Bobcats are savvy and will try to squeeze through if they can.

Remember to make sure there's no space under the fence. Bobcats might try to crawl under. Fix the wall to the ground tight to be safe.


4. Keep Bobcats from Digging Under and Climbing Over

Sometimes, bobcats can be sneaky and try to dig under your fence or jump over it from a tall tree. 

But there's a plan for every trick. Bobcats might try to dig a hole under your fence.

Here's how to stop them:

  • Dig a ditch around your fence: Make a small ditch around your wall and put part of your fence into it. This makes the wall go into the ground and stops bobcats from digging under it.
  • Use an L-footer: You can use extra wire mesh to make an 'L' shape at the bottom of your fence that points outwards. When a bobcat tries to dig, it'll hit the extra mesh.
  • Put a barrier in the ground: You can get particular strong metal or rigid plastic sheets and put them under your fence into the ground. This is an extra wall that bobcats can't dig through.

To stop bobcats from jumping over:

  • Make a solid roof: If you put a roof on your chicken coop, nothing can jump or fly in to get your chickens. It also helps keep your chickens safe from bad weather.
  • Use a bird netting over your chickens: If you can't make a solid roof, that's okay. You can still put a net over your chickens. A good one is a robust bird net. Get a strong net with small openings and put it over the whole chicken area. This protects from bobcats and deters aerial predators such as hawks and eagles.

A bird netting installed top- up the whole chicken coop

Image from Patti O. Amazon Customer Review | Harvesto Heavy Duty Bird Netting

5. Maintain Hygiene and Cleanliness

Keeping a clean chicken coop is essential because it helps make your chickens' home safer. 

Cleanliness stops bad smells that attract bobcats and other predators to your chicken coop.

 You will keep your coop clean and smell-free by removing leftover food, cleaning water and food containers, picking up chicken waste, and regularly replacing bedding and straws.


6. Light Up the Night

Bobcats like moving around when it's dark. This makes nighttime very risky for your chickens. 

An excellent way to stop bobcats at night is by using lights to brighten up the area around your coop.

Here's how it works: 

Bobcats won't like stepping into the light when the area around the chicken coop is bright. It makes them feel seen and unsafe. This can often scare them away.

There are many types of lights you can use. Some people use solar lights that charge daily and light up all night. Others use lights that turn on when they sense motion or motion sensor lights. These can surprise and scare away bobcats.

Motion sensor with light detector mounted on exterior wall of  house as part of security system.

 

7. Give Your Chickens Room to Move

Giving your chickens lots of room is suitable for their safety. When chickens have space, they can run away from danger better. Plus, they get sick less often and fight less when they're not too close together.

When chickens are all squeezed together, they can't escape if a bobcat or another animal comes in. But if they have room, they can move and hide better.

Chickens also like peaking at the ground, scratching in the dirt, and looking for food. 

They need space for this. And when they have enough room, they won't fight each other as much.

So, when you make your chicken coop, give your chickens lots of room to move. 

Try to give each chicken about 2 square feet inside the pen and more outside, like 8-10 square feet. This might change if your chickens are bigger or smaller.

Giving your chickens a safe, clean, big home is good. It helps keep bobcats away, and it makes your chickens happier.

 

8. Consider a Livestock Guardian Dog

Having a dog that's trained to live with and protect your chickens can be a big help in keeping bobcats away.

These special dogs, known as Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs), are trained to protect animals like chickens from a young age. 

They learn to stay with the flock and watch for danger. If a bobcat or other predator comes near, the dog will bark loudly and try to scare it away.

Bobcats usually try to avoid dogs. So, having an LGD can make them think twice before going after your chickens. And if a bobcat does try, the LGD will be there to protect them.

Remember, not all dogs are suitable for this job. 

The suitable breeds for protecting chickens include Great Pyrenees, Maremma Sheepdogs, and Anatolian Shepherds

These dogs have been trained for many generations to do this work.

If you decide to get an LGD, train it well and treat it like part of your family. A happy and well-trained dog will be an excellent guardian for your chickens.

 

A guardian dog taking its nap on a lush green grass

 

9. Learn to Identify Signs of a Bobcat's Visit

Knowing the signs of a bobcat visit can help you take action faster and protect your chickens. 

Here are some things to look for: 

  • Footprints: Bobcat tracks are round with four toes and no claws showing. The pad is larger and more pronounced than a domestic cat's.
  • Kill Signs: Bobcats often attack the neck of their prey and leave it behind after eating only a part. If you see this sign, it might be a bobcat.
  • Scat: Bobcat droppings, or scat, can be another sign. It's usually cord-like and may contain fur and bone fragments.
  • Sounds: Bobcats make a range of sounds. It could be a bobcat if you hear growls, yowls, or screams at night.

If bobcats continue to be a problem, you may need professional help. 

Contact a local wildlife agency for advice. They can help you find the best way to protect your chickens and deal with the bobcat. Look out for these signs and respond quickly if you see them.


Final Word 

Sure, bobcats may not be the worst predators out there, but they still pose a severe threat to your chickens— and that's exactly where you step in.

Follow the 9-proven techniques outlined throughout this guide, and you'll be on the right track.


We also can't stress enough the importance of taking measures against aerial attacks. 

An excellent solution to prevent bobcats or other predators from above is bird netting. 

Not just any bird netting. Choose a durable, easy-to-install one that can withstand severe weather and is virtually 'invisible' from a distance. 


The Ultimate Tangle-free Chicken Coop Netting is all these and more. It's an intelligent investment to ensure safety from above as it provides reliable protection that lasts.

Go ahead and give all these techniques a shot. Start small if you need to, but start. The safety of your chickens depends on you.






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