Chickens are hunted by many predators including weasels, raccoons and coyotes and rely on you to make sure their coop is safe and predator-proof. Weasels are tricky predators to protect against because of their cunning nature and slender build that allows them to squeeze through small spaces. Although they are smaller than chickens, they still may hunt chickens for food or for sport and steal and eat their eggs.
Protecting the Coop
Although chicken wire is sufficient to keep your chickens in the coop, it won't keep weasels out. Cover windows and openings with a strong material, such as half-inch hardware cloth. The small gaps in the mesh screen allow air flow through windows, but are too small for weasels to pass through. Check all around the chicken coop and cover even the smallest holes.
Keep weasels away from the coop by ensuring the fencing of your chicken run is in good condition. Use fencing that is no larger than 1 by 2 inches. The fence of your chicken run should ideally extend 4 feet under ground to prevent coyotes and other digging predators from getting under the fence and into the run.
Once your chicken coop is weasel-proof, your chickens are also safe from most other predators, including raccoons and coyotes. However, they may still be in danger from birds such as hawks and owls. Protect against these birds by covering your chicken run with bird netting or chicken wire to prevent predators from flying into the run or the coop.
Set a Weasel Trap
If you know you have weasels attempting to get into the chicken coop, you can set a weasel trap and bait it with fresh meat. Check the trap regularly. AAAnimal Control, in Orlando, Florida, recommends releasing the trapped weasel several miles from your home. As an alternative to a live trap, consider a No. 0 or 1 steel leg-hold trap to capture the predators.
Check with your state and local laws before killing or trapping and releasing a weasel. Consider contacting an animal control or wildlife removal service to help you safely remove weasels.
Additional Predator Prevention
Prevent weasels and other predators from being attracted to the coop by keeping the coop clean and making sure extra chicken food isn't loose on the ground. Keep scratch and food in sealed containers. Motion-activated lights can help deter predators, including weasels at night.
If you have a compost pile, do not place it near the coop. Keep hedges and other plants trimmed back so that predators do not have a safe place to hide or retreat.