Hello all! I recently found an magazine article on how to make your own homemade insecticide that is safe for animals, people and your garden. The article said you could use it to disinfect your chicken house when you clean it out. What you have to do is this. Save all citrus peelings in a glass jar and cover it with distilled vinegar. Keep adding peels and keep covering with vinegar for 3 months. All you then have to do is strain the mixture into a spray bottle and you are ready to use it! Limonene is a natural oil that exists in citrus peels and is a natural insecticide. The vinegar extracts the oil. You end up with something safe to spray your plants, vegetables and chicken house with! I'm trying it out this winter. The photo below is what I have so far!
Next up is how to predator proof your chicken house. First off, if you're in Ohio and you have chickens, even a few, you'll have predators. Here is a list of predators in our area. Foxes,dogs, opossum, raccoon, hawks, owls, weasels, rats, skunks and certain snakes. Snakes, opossums, skunks and rats will mainly take the eggs. I'm not going to go into the gory details of how to tell which predator has gotten into your chicken house but rather tell you all how I've got my chickens protected. Most of the predators in the Ohio area are night hunters. If your chickens are closed up into their house at night you shouldn't have problems if its secure.
1. Interplex Solar Night Eyes
I bought 4 of these to put around each side of the chicken house. They are solar powered and weather proof. They begin to blink around dusk and blink all night long. They replicate a pair of "glowing eyes" that predators see and stay away from. Night predators think they're being watched and stay away. These will protect the house from raccoons, skunks, opossum, foxes and many more. You must hang them to the suggested height for what you're trying to keep out. Its cheaper than electric fence and so far I have seen no evidence of anything trying to get in. We have a LOT of raccoons and opossums here. You can get them from amazon also. Here is what they look like.
This next idea came from Rick at Produce Your Green Power aka london1817 on YouTube. He has a great channel! All types of videos on chickens, solar, wind power, gardening. Check him out in the link above! Anyway, his idea was to pour Quickcrete concrete right out of the bag all the way around the outside of the chicken house, so that predators couldn't dig their way under it. Once you pour it out all the way around, I took a watering can and poured water on it to wet it down. Then it just hardened that way! It was really cheap and easy to do. Here is a photo of what some of it looks like.
3. Welded wire and poultry wire
Next I have double wired the windows with both welded wire and poultry wire. You want to double up on this because raccoons can chew right through the chicken wire! Hard to believe, I know, but they can.
4. Covered Outdoor Run and Decorations
This next predator (along with raccoons) seems to be the most challenging to keep out. So far I have not lost any chickens....however...even after covering the outdoor run for the chickens with orange "snow fence" and hanging some of those metallic "whirli-gigs" a hawk STILL landed in the tree above the run right in front of my dad and I as we stood there looking at it. Here are photos of the fencing and the whirli-gig...which is the only one left and even it is broken. Another tactic I'm going to try is to hang CD's from the tree at different lengths and branches. Hawks don't like reflective things.
I will do another update on predator proofing once I get the CD's hung up and the other thing I was going to try was a flying owl decoy....hawks are smart though...and they seem to be able to figure things out. I should also point out, its illegal to shoot them.