Every winter seems to go on for ages, whether it is damp and wet, or we’re knee deep in snow and ice. However, March is nearly upon us, and that represents the beginning of the four-month period where stoats are likely to cause trouble stealing eggs from hen runs. They’re not averse to taking rabbits either, making it an important time to secure any pet rabbits you might have in your garden.
Stoats are not the only predators with an interest in targeting a hen run. Weasels and mink are also more than happy to gain access, stealing eggs and killing fowl as they do so.
Using the right materials to keep out predators
If your hen run has taken some damage during the winter (even the weight of snow sitting on the roof can have an impact), now is the time to strengthen it. While you’ll likely have a wooden frame in place, that frame must be protected with strong wire mesh. The gaps between the mesh should be no more than half an inch wide. Anything bigger enables the stoat to squeeze through. The mesh can then be attached to the wooden supports with U-shaped nails or something similar that cannot easily be pulled out.
It’s not enough to use the mesh from ground level up, though. You also need to dig deep to install the mesh a minimum of at least a foot below ground level. Go deeper if you can. Stoats and other predators would be quite happy to dig underneath your strong fencing, so make life as hard as you possibly can for them.
Use the same mesh across the roof of your hen run
Make sure sturdy supports are in place there as well, then attach the mesh to them. A stoat will climb up the fence in seconds, so you need to make sure it won’t be able to access the run from above.
Finally, check out your coop. This should also be strengthened against access by stoats and similar animals. Your hens and chicks are always safer locked up inside, so putting them away at the end of each day provides more protection. If you minimise the hiding places stoats might use in your garden, they may not even bother trying to get to your hen run. They’ll look for easier targets elsewhere instead.
Do you have an issue with stoats? If so, get in touch to see how we can help.