Chicken predators in Europe


Keeping chickens can be a rewarding endeavor, whether for fresh eggs, meat, or the joy of raising animals. However, chicken keepers in Europe face a myriad of challenges, one of the most significant being predators. Predators can cause considerable loss and distress to chicken owners. This article explores the various predators that threaten chickens in Europe and offers strategies to protect your flock.

Common Chicken Predators in Europe

1. Foxes

The red fox is perhaps the most notorious chicken predator in Europe. Foxes are cunning and can easily outsmart poorly secured coops. They are capable of digging, climbing, and squeezing through small gaps, making them formidable foes.


2. Martens

Pine martens and stone martens are known for their agility and ability to infiltrate chicken coops. They are particularly active in rural and forested areas, and their slender bodies allow them to access tight spaces.


3. Badgers

Though less common than foxes, badgers can also pose a threat to chickens. They are strong diggers and can cause significant damage if they decide to raid a coop.


4. Weasels

Small but deadly, weasels can slip through tiny openings and kill multiple chickens in one attack. They are relentless hunters, making them a serious threat despite their size.


5. Wild Cats

European wildcats, though less frequently seen near human habitation, can occasionally prey on chickens, especially in more remote areas.


6. Rats

While rats typically do not attack adult chickens, they can prey on chicks and eggs. They also pose a risk by spreading diseases and contaminating food supplies.


7. Hawks

Various hawk species, such as the common buzzard, are known to target free-ranging chickens during the day. They can swoop down quickly, taking chickens by surprise.


8. Owls

Larger owl species like the Eurasian eagle-owl hunt at night and can pose a significant threat to chickens that are not securely cooped up.


9. Crows and Magpies

These birds are less likely to attack adult chickens but can be a menace to chicks and eggs. They are also known for stealing eggs.


10. Snakes

While less common in cooler parts of Europe, larger snakes can pose a threat to chicks and eggs. They can infiltrate coops through small openings.


Protecting Your Flock

Given the variety of predators, it’s essential to employ multiple strategies to protect your chickens. Here are some effective measures:

Secure Coops

Ensure that your chicken coop is robust and secure. Use sturdy materials like hardware cloth instead of chicken wire, as the latter can be easily breached by determined predators. Regularly inspect the coop for gaps or weaknesses and reinforce them promptly.

Predator-Proof Fencing

Install fencing around the coop and run. Bury the fencing at least 30 cm (12 inches) underground to prevent digging predators like foxes and badgers from burrowing underneath. Consider using electric fencing for added security.

Covered Runs

A covered run provides protection against aerial predators like hawks and owls. Use netting or wire mesh to cover the run, ensuring there are no gaps for birds to slip through.

Guard Animals

Some farmers use guard animals such as dogs, geese, or even donkeys to protect their flocks. These animals can deter predators through their presence and behavior. For instance, a well-trained guard dog can be particularly effective against both mammalian and avian threats.

Automatic Chicken Coop Doors

An automatic door with a light sensor can be a game-changer. It opens at sunrise and closes at sunset, ensuring your chickens are safely inside during the hours when predators are most active.

Remove Attractants

Keep the area around the coop clean and free of food scraps or debris that might attract predators. Secure all chicken feed in predator-proof containers.

Regular Monitoring

Regularly check on your flock, especially during high-risk times such as dawn and dusk. Promptly investigate any signs of predation, such as missing chickens or disturbances around the coop.


Protecting chickens from predators requires vigilance and a multi-faceted approach. By understanding the various predators in Europe and implementing effective protective measures, chicken keepers can significantly reduce the risk of attacks and ensure their flocks remain safe and productive. Remember, a secure and comfortable environment not only protects your chickens but also contributes to their overall well-being and productivity.