While we all recognize that chickens are incredible livestock. It’s important to keep in mind how vulnerable they are as well. Predators of all shapes and sizes target chickens, and we’ve spent a fair amount of time on this blog, detailing the many animals that fall into this category. Today, we’re here to discuss another entry to that list: Bobcats.
Bobcats are an extremely dangerous animal that you need to protect yourself and your chickens from.
These animals are vicious but they do not feel threatened by chickens. If bobcats are trying to eat chickens, it’s likely out of hunger. Whether you live in a suburban or a rural area, bobcats can be a threat to you and your chickens and usually attack free-range birds.
Bobcat kills are often easy to identify because they leave claw marks on the shoulders, necks, and backs of the chicken. They usually start feeding on around the ribs and shoulders. Chickens will often be dragged around and covered with dirt and twigs. Bobcats are known to hunt during any time of the day but are most often spotted at dawn, dusk, and early evening.
In terms of protection, which is vital, first you’ll want to make sure your wire mesh fencing is stable around the entire perimeter of your coop; any openings will be taken advantage of by bobcats, who can easily push their way through holes or weak spots. Consider putting motion lights on the outside the coop as an easy indication of movement around it at night.
Furthermore, bobcats can jump high — your fencing should be tall enough to fully protect chickens because they can easily jump as high as four feet if not more. A bobcat will effortlessly climb a wooden coop to gain access through the roof, and although they are large animals, they can work with just a few inches of space. Consider adding a cover net to keep them from accessing chickens through the top of your structure.
Use a fine mesh hardware cloth (1/2” to 1/4”) to fence the coop which is more effective in preventing bobcats from reaching into it. If you know that bobcats live within your area, the only way to ensure that they can’t access chickens is to have their coop completely enclosed. Keep in mind that chicken wire is not strong enough to prevent bobcats from accessing the coop, you’ll need to use welded wire hardware cloth, poultry wire, or electric netting, etc. Consider running one or two electrified wires towards the top of the fence to prevent bobcats from jumping the lower hot wires.
The key is to not give bobcats that access in the slightest, or else you’ll lose chickens fast.
If you have any more questions or concerns about protecting your chickens against predators like bobcats, contact us at Chickens for Backyards today. We’re here to help.