November 2018 was a treacherous month in the chicken coop.
The mink came back for multiple attacks, particularly during the several days over the Thanksgiving week when we were out of town travelling. In the additional attacks, the mink managed to kill 55 of the 57 chickens in the coop. All the attacks were at night, some early evening, some early morning hours.
The geese, after the first attack would not go back into the coop, as well as the two that did survive the mink. The two survivors roosted in a cedar tree near the coop, while the geese stayed in the pool for night.
The mink attacked and killed Lucy, the smaller goose, while she was in the pool. Amazing that the mink was abe to approach the goose without the geese detecting the mink was there, until the attack. The mink moved so quickly the goose had no time to react, and was unable to get away from it.
A pair of dogs, both wearing collars came though and killed a rooster, one of the two surviving chickens. One hen has survived along with the goose. The two were both in shock and have clearly been impacted by the violent ordeal.
Having the cameras posted in the coop and around the coop yard, I was able to keep an eye on the coop. The first couple of attacks were over by the time I was abe to reach the coop, even though we could see it happening live. Two more attacks came while we were away. The mink did come back after killing the chickens, to retrieve one that was buried in the bedding. I had not noticed that hen when I was clearing away the dead. I used the Arduino controls to turn on the interior coop lights. The mink was not bothered by the lights being turned on. Next I turned on the fan. The fan noise also did not bother the mink. The lights on and fan noise in the coop gave me enough opportunity to sneak up on the varmit. While not a direct hit, there were enough pellets in it, that it leaked out across the coop yard and left a trail to it’s den. The mink will not be coming back. I have no evidence that there was more than one mink and have not seen any on camera since.
Increasing Coop Security
After the first attack, we reinforced the wire around the bottom of the coop were we determined the varmit got in. The chicken wire that was under the walls, and folded out from the coop and buried was just not enough to keep out the mink. Last summer, we learned chicken snakes could also get through the wire.
We dug that out, and wrapped the bottom foot or so with hardware cloth, and folded that down around the outside of the coop. The chicken wire we previously used for this purpose was only installed to go out from the walls, but we did not overlap the wire on the corners. With the hardware cloth, we overlapped the corners and wrapped the wire around the corners. The gap in the corner was where the mink got in initially. We discovered this because the mink attempted to pull a baby chick through the hole, but the chick was not small enough to get through the space the mink was able to get through.
Around the top of the coop, there was some open space for ventilation. This space was between the roof rafters. This has now been closed up to prevent any access there as well.
On the to do list, is to put some expanding foam into the space formed by the ridges in the roofing sheet metal. Also, I plan to pour some concrete in the front doorway to better seal up the space below the door, and behind it when it is closed.
An improvement to the video monitoring might help. Tweaking the motion settings for the cameras is under way. There have been a few times where the predators have been inside the coop and have not been captured by the camera motion sensors. Some of the settings configure the size, contrast, speed, and distance moved required to trigger an alert and record the video from that event. At night, dust, flying insects, and such can be seen with the IR settings on the cameras and can set off false alarms.
Also giving some thought to putting some Arduino based PIR motion sensors around the coop, outside, to turn on outside lights and perhaps some on the inside the coop as well to turn on inside lights if there is some floor activity while the chickens are on the roost.