Keeping birds out of a coop can be easy or difficult
- Simplest solution, buy a treadle feeder
- Enclose your entire coop in small mesh chicken wire
- Cover the existing coop with bird netting
- Try scarecrow type methods such as fake birds of prey, CDs hung on string
- Netting gradually deteriorates and scarecrow methods become ineffective
“Wild birds can easily eat more feed than a flock of chickens. While they are smaller in size there are a lot more of them and they tend to gorge on the feed before leaving.”
What Works, What Doesn’t?
How to Stop Wild Birds from Stealing Chicken Feed
Wild birds will vastly increase your feed costs and provide enormous opportunities for disease to decimate your flock if backyard chickens. Keeping them out can be as simple as purchasing a good quality spring loaded chicken feeder or you can attempt to fence the birds out or frighten the birds away.
The simplest and surest method to control wild birds is to simply deny them access to the feed. Birds have to eat a lot and often, they won’t survive hanging around your coop if they can’t get to the feed .
The best treadle feeders have a spring loaded door and a counterweight to ensure the wild birds can’t overwhelm the treadle with numbers or simply push the door open.
The best wild bird proof feeder is actually this model sold as a rat proof feeder, manufactured by The Carpenter Shop in Oklahoma City. The feeder came on the market in early 2012, starting out as a wooden feeder but by 2013 it had morphed into a sheet metal feeder that became the market leader due to its innovative design, spring loaded door, and massive counterweight system. One of these feeders is going to cost you $75.00 to $100.00 depending on size and how far it has to be shipped but it is the surest method to eliminating wild birds from your coop.
Another method is to try to fence the wild birds out of the coop using small mesh chicken wire. Chicken wire by itself doesn’t make a good barrier wire for a chicken coop because a larger dog or racoon can easily rip through the wire as it is merely twisted together. People tend to use larger mesh wire that is welded together but the larger mesh also allows small wild birds through. You can go to the expense of covering the welded wire with small mesh chicken wire or even hardware cloth if you have that kind of budget.
Next up is bird netting or deer netting that can be found in most garden departments or seed stores. The netting will stop most birds but the netting deteriorates over time and small birds will become trapped in the mesh.
The next method is trying scare the wild birds away from your chicken coop and chicken feed. People have tried using fake owls or other birds of prey that are mounted on a post near the flock. The wild birds eventually lose their fear of the decoys and many times your chickens are afraid of the owl decoys too. The decoys do need to be moved constantly to trick the wild birds into thinking they are real.
Some have had success using shiny objects tied to strings such as CDs or aluminum foil or aluminum pie plates that will twist and flutter in the wind. The wild birds will eventually realize there is no danger and the clutter is unsightly if you are the type to keep a neat yard and coop.
If you have a pack of young boys around buying a few b b guns will cut down on the wild bird numbers but there is a risk anytime you have kids and b b guns involved.
Another issue is if you allow your birds to free range or leave your coop door open during the day. The wild birds will fly right in the coop and gorge on the feed.
Other than the stolen feed the wild birds will leave their droppings everywhere and aside from the smell and filth the disease danger is enormous. Wild birds carry many, many, varieties of parasites and disease, some of which they are carriers of without becoming sick themselves.
If you use the bird netting or deer netting and live where there is lots of snow make certain that the coop top is well braced as the netting will allow the snow to accumulate and collapse the chicken run roof.