Keeping Racoons Out Of The Hen House With Solar Power
In keeping with today's 'solar energy' theme, I was looking into ways that I could use solar power in micro farming. The first thing I came across was solar powered garden lights. Some of the lights were extremely pretty and I even discovered quite a few articles on how to make your own solar powered garden lights. But as I went into the kitchen to grab a ringing phone, I was astonished to find one of the chicks sitting on top of the rubbermaid bin that has been their 'home' while we wait for all their feathers to come in before we move them outdoors.
Although we do have coyotes and foxes in Florida, here in suburbia, our main predation concern is going to be raccoons. We've been looking at all kinds of hen house plans and set ups and hubby found a great design at our local feed store. He wants to build ours, which will be about 1/4 of the price of what the feed store wants for theirs, but after catching the chick on the ledge of the bin today, we realized that this weekend was the 'due date' for getting this project done. The set up the feed store had did look pretty good for keeping predators out, but I know just how crafty raccoons can be, so I am still pretty concerned about these predators of my little chicks.
As I was rummaging around the Amazon website looking for any solar powered gadgets that might help me keep in line with today's dedication of the blog to 'solar energy,' I came across the Nite Guard Solar NG-001 Predator Control Light, Single Pack.
Here is Amazon's exact product description of the Night Guard Solar Light.
Solar Powered Nite Guard Solar uses sunlight or daylight to charge. No batteries are ever needed. It will continue to activate during long periods of cloudiness. The powerful flash of red light produced from this LED system will automatically activate at dusk and will force all night animals to flee the area. Based on scientific research, Nite Guard Solar emits a flash of light implying to all animals that hunt or feed at night that they have been "discovered" or are being watched. This is their deepest fear and forces them to flee the area. A simple, but effective concept. Automatically turns on at dusk and off at full daylight. This weatherproof unit will last approximately 3-4 years. Use the Nite Guard Solar to protect poultry and livestock against coyote, fox, bear, mountain lion, wolf, bobcat, owls, hawks, mink, weasel, and skunks, gardens (flowers, vegetable), orchards, vineyards against deer and raccoon, bird feeders, purple martin houses, fish ponds against raccoon, hawks, owls, blue heron, and bear, campsites, cabins, and property against bear, raccoon, mountain lion and even human intruders. 60-day money back guarantee, 1-year limited warranty. Mount the lights at eye level of the animal to be stopped and face it away from the area to be protected. One to four lights will be required depending upon your application. It not motion activated but will flash automatically from dusk through dawn so night animals are stopped at long distances (500 yards or more) away. They do not come in to investigate but see the flash as a threat the instant they are aware of it. Maintenance Free: Nite Guard Solar is completely weatherproof and will continue to function or years under extreme weather conditions. Blistering heat, below zero temperatures, rain, ice, snow and blowing dust/grime will not compromise the nightly function of this product.
The light sells for a very modest price of only $19.99 which I consider a very small price to pay for protecting my livestock from predators. There are 59 reviews of this product at this time with 29 of them being 5 star reviews, and only 12 being 1 star reviews. I looked through all of the 1 star reviews to see if perhaps I could spot where people might be doing something wrong that would cause them to leave a negative review, but I couldn't find a common denominator among the twelve that would offer any insight. I can only think the perhaps this device isn't 'enough.'
We have a friend who owns a 10 acre ranch here in town and he suggested that my husband actually pee in a bunch of cans and line our fence with them. He said the scent would scare off any raccoons. Now, I'm more than willing to have dear hubby give that a try, though he's not so keen on the ideas our young boys would get from that particular tactic should they see it. So while this device may or may not work for us, as it has worked for many against a few… we have a back up plan.
Other things to consider in keeping predators away would be to keep our feed in metal pails as the feed not only attracts the raccoons, but also rodents. I've heard that snake droppings will keep away the rodents, and a goat (not feasible in suburbia, but maybe if we had an acre or so of land somewhere) and a guinea fowl (we can have these here, but I'm not sure I want them) will keep away snakes. I've also hear that plastic owls, or an owl feeder that would attract real owls, would keep away rodents and snakes too.
I think that the effectiveness of any tactical maneuver for protecting crops and livestock is going to be very tied to the local of the wildlife threats. Sometimes, just one tactic may not be enough, and so, I will start with the Night Guard Solar Light and hopefully not subject my husband to have to explain to our boys the difference between when it is ok to pee somewhere besides into a bathroom commode, and when it isnt'.