How To Keep Your Chickens Safe On Halloween

How To Keep Your Chickens Safe On Halloween

So I’m a huge fan of Halloween! I think it’s so fun for kids and I love the costumes, the pumpkins, and all of the fall decorations.

However, especially if you’re raising chickens in an urban or suburban area, Halloween can be a pretty stressful and scary time for your chickens. So today we’re going to talk about how to keep your chickens safe on Halloween.

Now the thing about Halloween, is that it’s really fun for us humans, but for animals it can be kind of a scary time, especially if you have domestic animals. There’s going to be a lot more activity in your neighborhood during Halloween and that can be very stressful for chickens and other pets.

 

Trick-or Treating People

The number one thing to remember during Halloween and Trick-or-Treating, is that not every neighborhood Trick-or-Treats at night.

Usually chickens will go in their coop at night and you’ll keep them safely cooped up all night long night, so you might think you don’t need to take any extra steps to keep them safe.

But some areas tend to have Trick-or-Treating hours during the day, or at dusk, right before sunset, which are times when your chickens might be out and about and hunting and pecking instead of safely in their coop.

So you definitely want to make sure that you coop your chickens up during the hours of Trick-or-Treating, especially if they’re during the day.

More and more neighborhoods are shifting more towards day hours to protect kids. And so younger kids who might go to bed earlier, can still enjoy Trick-or-Treating.

So definitely make sure that your chickens are cooped up. And make sure that the coops are secure. You’re going to want to make sure that other people can’t easily get into your coop. 

I would also consider keeping your chickens cooped up the night before Halloween because that tends to be mischief night. Mischief night is a big deal in some areas.

It’s not such a big deal in our area. We live in a very rural neighborhood, and I grew up in a rural neighborhood where we actually never got Trick-or-Treaters.

But in some areas that I have lived in, mischief night has been a big deal, especially if you have a lot of teenagers around or young adults who might be impetuous.

It could be a pretty disastrous situation for your chickens. So my suggestion is just all Halloween, the night before Halloween and Halloween day, and that block of time around Halloween, just keep your chickens cooped up, or if you do allow them to forage and run around, supervise them just for the sake of safety.

It’s not worth somebody possibly harming your chickens, to let them roam around free.

My recommendation is that you keep your chickens cooped up or make sure that they are being supervised, so that you can make sure they stay safe.

 

Dogs

This is another reason why you should coop your chickens up on Halloween. A lot of people, as they’re taking their kids around Trick-or-Treating, bring their dog with them. And we all know that even the most family friendly dog, when it sees a chicken, can turn into a killer.

I know this from personal experience. Our dog was a great family dog. Loved people and was so friendly, but the second he got around a chicken, he turned into a chicken killer.

Not every dog out there is going to be like that, obviously. But you really don’t want to take the chance that’s somebody’s neighborhood dog could get at your chickens. That’s just another reason to keep your chickens cooped up earlier on Halloween.

 

Predators

Because of all the candy and all the food around during Halloween, predators might be a bigger issue. Namely, things like possums and raccoons.

Raccoons are pretty nondiscriminatory when it comes to what they eat. If it’s there, they’re going to go for it.

So because of all the candy and food around, raccoons are more likely to be out than they would any other night. They’re going to be out every night, but they’re probably going to be out in droves on Halloween (and probably a couple days after too).

So I recommend that you double check that your coop is secure, so that your chickens will be safe from predators.

Traffic

Another reason to keep your chickens cooped up around Trick-or-Treat time, is because of higher volumes of traffic. I remember when we were kids, my parents didn’t want to walk with their kids from house to house. It’s not fun. It’s tiring. You’re an adult. You’ve been working all day. So what do you do? You get the car out.

The problem with this, (I’m sure you’re already put it all together) is that chickens sometimes aren’t the brightest when it comes to traffic. I know mine aren’t. We’ve actually never had a chicken get hit, but it can happen because people aren’t paying attention. They’re watching their kids. They’re watching the dog. They’re not paying attention to what your chickens are doing.

Then there’s the people who’ll hit your chickens on purpose. So best advice, during Trick-or-Treat hours, after Trick-or-Treat hours, and on mischief night, just keep your chickens cooped up.

Your chickens won’t be harmed in any way by keeping them cooped up. Just make sure that they have plenty of food and water. You can give them extra treats and boredom busters to keep them entertained, but I would recommend you keep them in their coop.

Candy

Don’t be tempted to give your chickens candy. As we all know, chickens are curious creatures, and when given the opportunity, they’ll taste anything. If you’ve been thinking about giving them candy during Halloween, don’t do it. Just don’t do it. They don’t need it.

There are plenty of other healthy treat options you can give your chickens if you want to spoil them on Halloween. You could give them corn (real corn, NOT candy corn!), lettuce, Black Soldier Fly Larvae, mealworms, or one of my treat mixes, but please don’t give them candy.

Now another thing to keep in mind, is to make sure that you keep your trash cans lidded up tightly, so that your chickens can’t scavenge in the trash cans.

For the most part they’ll pretty much eat whatever they can find. Candy can mess with their blood sugar and it can mess with a whole ton of other things.

The other thing is that certain candies, such as hard candies, gumballs, or candy corn, can be choking hazards for your chickens. Once they swallow the candy it goes into their crop. Eventually it hits the gizzard. The gizzard has rocks in it and it grinds everything up.

But in the meantime, as it’s going down the esophagus, there’s a chance that they might choke on it. Especially if it’s something big and hard.

Don’t give your chickens candy and try not to throw candy in your yard. You just want to make sure that your yard is fairly clean before you let your chickens out of their coop again.

Chances of them choking on candy are probably slim (they could also just as easily choke on a piece of hard corn) but for the sake of making things easy on ourselves, just avoid giving your chickens candy.

The final thing that I’ll say about candy, is to not give your chickens anything that’s been unwrapped. As an example of this is, some families prefer to give out healthy treats, so they’ll give out apples, or oranges, or bananas.

My suggestion is although it might be tempting to throw them in the compost pile, or to feed it to your chickens as their Halloween treat, don’t feed them anything that’s come from another person that’s been unwrapped.

It’s the same reason as we don’t give it to our children. You don’t know what somebody’s put in it. You don’t know if they’ve put poison in it. You don’t know if they’ve put pins in it.

We all hear the stories every year of somebody where someone found pins or other stuff in their kid’s Halloween candy. It can happen. My suggestion is stay safe, don’t feed your chickens any unwrapped fruit or vegetables from other people, because again, you don’t know what’s been in them.

Candy Wrappers

So as we all know, chickens are opportunistic eaters. They might very well go ahead and try and eat candy wrappers. And that’s definitely not good for them.

So just make sure that when your kids are eating the candy that all the candy wrappers get cleaned up so your chickens don’t accidentally ingest them.

Candy wrappers are something that could very easily mess with your chickens digestive system. It might not hurt them immediately, but it could cause some serious problems later on.

Make sure your chickens can’t get at any candy wrappers and be sure that you keep your trashcans lidded so that your chickens can’t get in them and dig around and accidentally ingest a candy wrapper or anything else that they really should not be eating.

It’s good to keep the raccoons away too, so I highly suggest you lid your garbage cans.

 

Can your chickens eat pumpkins or gourds?

We’ve talked about all of the scary stuff, so now let’s talk about feeding your chickens pumpkins! If you have unpainted pumpkins or other sorts of gourds, go ahead and chop them up and feed them to your chickens.

They will absolutely love you for it! If the pumpkin or the gourd has been painted, I probably would not feed the peel itself to your chickens. We don’t really know what’s in those paints so it’s not good for them. And as the person eating their eggs, you don’t want to ingest any of that either.

Go ahead and cut away the painted part, then feed it to your chickens. If the whole outside has been painted, maybe just cut it open and scoop out the interior.

There is a belief that pumpkin seeds can help your chickens with worms. I don’t really see any proof of that, but at the end of the day, the chickens love the seeds. They think they taste great and they’re good for them. And the pumpkin itself is very good for them. It has a lot of nutrients in it!

My one tip when it comes to pumpkin and gourds, is to wait to buy them until the day after Halloween. The grocery stores in our area heavily discount gourds after Halloween, so I will often buy like 10 gourds for only five bucks.

I feed them to my pigs, I feed them to the chickens. We even feed them to our goats too!

It’s a perfect opportunity for people like us to go score really inexpensive food for our chickens and the other livestock on our farm. It’s super healthy for them and they love it! They get to dig through it and they’ll just have the best time ever.

So yes, your chickens can eat pumpkins and gourds. They will love it, and it’ll be very nutritious for them. So go ahead and feed them away to your flock!

So that’s all folks, I hope you were able to learn a little bit more about how to keep your chickens safe for Halloween! Let me know in the comments below what you do to keep you chickens safe for Halloween!

Do Raccoons Eat Chickens? Here’s What You Need To Know!

Do Raccoons Eat Chickens? Here’s What You Need To Know!

A common question I’m asked by new owners is “do raccoons eat chickens?”

 

Unfortunately, I’m usually contacted by someone after they find their chickens dead in their coop, and they can’t figure out what attacked their birds.

 

So, do raccoons eat chickens? The short answer is yes.

 

Although we love our chickens and view them as anything but food, the rest of the natural world doesn’t feel the same way. In fact, chickens are a good eat for any carnivorous predator.

 

So, given the opportunity, yes, raccoons will eat chickens, and not be too ashamed of it.

 

Now for full disclosure, we don’t have a lot of our masked friends in our area – we’re usually battling opossums, domestic dogs, the occasional coyote (they’re around, but don’t try to break into our coops, knock on wood), and hawks.

 

I’m sure we have more predators around than I know – there’s been times I’ve come out in the mornings to feed, only to find a rabbit or chicken missing, and no idea what happened.

 

No sign of a struggle – nothing. I’m fairly confident it’s not raccoons, however – and I tell you why below!

 

Do raccoons eat chickens? Here's what you need to know to keep your backyard flock safe!

 

How do you know if a raccoon attacked your chickens?

I review some common predators that, like raccoons, eat chickens here, so in this article, we’ll just focus on raccoons, which have a tell-tale sign of their presence.

 

Unlike coyotes, dogs, and hawks, who take their prey away from your backyard, raccoons like to share that they’ve been around.

 

When a raccoon decides to eat a free meal, it’ll leave pieces of chickens laying around your coop, front yard, and even your porch.

 

Yep – it’s a gruesome and upsetting site, but it’s also one that’s fairly conclusive. Skunks and opossums usually eat the chickens right where they’re attacked, and leave the bodies in the same place.

 

Raccoons will distribute the remains WHILE they eat chickens, leaving a trail that’s unpleasant to come across.

 

Identifying Raccoons

The first sign of a raccoon in your area (other than seeing one) is if you see footprints around. Raccoon tracks are pretty distinctive, with 5 toes on both front and back paws:

Do raccoons eat chickens? Here's what you need to know to keep your backyard flock safe!

You also might notice the critter’s poop, which looks like this:

 

Preventing Raccoons

Raccoons have nimble fingers and are quite intelligent – so your #1 priority is to make sure your coop is safely locked. Simple slide locks are easy for raccoons to figure out, so choose a lock that’s either out of their reach or would be difficult for a toddler to figure out.

 

In the same vein, make sure the door of the coop closes tight, all the way around – we’ve had coop doors that close, but still left a gap – predators can still get into the coop through those cracks.

 

Be particularly vigilant if you have young chickens that aren’t roosting yet – pullets & cockerels don’t roost until they’re a bit older. As young chickens, they still lay on the ground at night, and are a prime target for raccoons wanting to eat.

 

Keep feed out of the coop at night – keep it away from AROUND the coop also. Raccoons eat chickens when there’s something that begins attracting them in the first place – so eliminating that issue is your first defense.

 

If raccoons are a problem in your area, it’s also important to use hardware cloth – ¼-inch hardware cloth is best.

 

Raccoons like to put their fingers through larger holes – and they’ll pull your chickens THROUGH the holes. It’s a gruesome fate for your valued flock members.

 

What to do if Raccoons Eat Chickens On Your Farm

If raccoons eat chickens in your farm regularly, and it really becomes a problem for you (and none of the suggestions in this article work for you), consider calling a wildlife service (such as animal control or a wildlife rescue) to see if they can help relocate the animal.

 

State laws vary about disposing of predators yourself, so it’s always best to be cautious and do your research before making any decisions.

Can I Keep Chicks In The House? What Killed My Chicks?, Are Heatlamps Necessary? Why Do Chickens Roll? Do Chicks Need Nesting Box Training? [Podcast]

Can I Keep Chicks In The House? What Killed My Chicks?, Are Heatlamps Necessary? Why Do Chickens Roll? Do Chicks Need Nesting Box Training? [Podcast]

Chicks, raccoon drama, chickens rolling, and nesting boxes are all on the table for today’s episode of What The Cluck?!

 

In today’s podcast, I answer your questions, and we got some great ones this week.

 

Like you, I’ve run to the feed store to buy some chicks, so it seems appropriate that most of this week’s questions are all about them!

 

Around here, they just stock very basic breeds, such as sex links, production reds, industrial strain Rhode Island Reds, you get the picture.

 

They’re so cute, it’s impossible to not leave with some – I’m sure you know what I mean! (And your spouse is probably rolling their eyes just as loudly as mine is!)

 

But they’re impossible to resist, aren’t they?

 

Anyway, in this podcast….

You’ll learn:

 

  • Why keep chicks in the house is important to their health
  • How to tell whether a raccoon or an opossum has killed your chicks
  • Why chickens roll in dirt (and it’s not just about bugs)
  • How heat lamps are critical to your chick’s health
  • Whether chicks need to be trained to use nesting boxes

 

 

Links we discuss:

Where to buy decoy eggs

Nesting boxes I recommend

Free instructional videos about chickens

Transcript:

Coming soon!