It’s a lovely spring day, and you’re thrilled to go sit outside on your patio and enjoy the fresh air. After a long winter spent cooped up inside, nothing sounds better than getting to relax on your porch.
But you weren’t the only one to come up with this idea.
Your chickens have also decided that your porch is a fantastic hangout spot, and they’ve beaten you there. You open the door and are greeted with clucks, squawks and tons of chicken poop.
That relaxing afternoon has turned into a tedious one. Now you get to spend it cleaning chicken droppings and silently cursing your chickens for ruining your plans.
Before you give in to that urge to take away their free-range privileges, try these tips for keeping your chickens off your porch. You can reclaim your special place and coexist peacefully with your flock!
Four Easy Ways to Keep Chickens Off the Porch
1. Relocate Your Chicken Coop
Free-range chickens love to roam. At first, they may stay close to their coop, but once they start feeling safe and get bored with their immediate surroundings, they’ll start to expand their territory.
Over time, as their territory grows, it will come to encompass your porch. But you can delay this — and possibly even prevent it altogether — by keeping your coop as far away as possible from your porch.
Each of your chickens needs around 10 square feet of foraging space to be happy. If you’re able to provide this space in such a way that it doesn’t encroach on your porch space, the odds of keeping your chickens off your porch go way up.
2. Keep the Chicken Feed Away from Your Porch
Chickens are far from bird-brained. They’re surprisingly quick at picking up on patterns and learning routines — especially when food is involved.
Your chickens know that you’re the one who gives them food, and they know where you keep it. If that spot happens to be near your porch, expect to see them congregating around it when dinnertime rolls around.
And if you then scatter the feed near your porch, well, you’re only adding fuel to the porch-perching fire.
To keep your chickens off your porch, you’ll need to eliminate the reason they like it in the first place. That means relocating your chicken feed and only providing it to the chickens far away from your porch.
A shed is a great place to keep chicken feed and other coop supplies. Put the shed out in your yard, away from your porch, and make sure your chickens see you emerging from it with food.
Then scatter some of the feed around the shed and watch them come running! Do this consistently and you’ll retrain your chickens to associate the shed, rather than your porch, with food.
3. Make Your Porch a Scary Place to Be
Your chickens may be drawn to your porch because they perceive it as a safe place. It’s sheltered, it’s raised above the ground and it’s close to you, so their reasoning adds up.
But if you’re sick of cleaning up after their porch perching sessions, you might want to try making your porch a little less inviting.
One way to do this is to outfit your porch with fake predators. Birds of prey like hawks and owls are terrifying to chickens, so decoys that resemble them will be most effective.
Mechanical decoys with motion detectors that activate a sound or movement are best. Stationary decoys may work for a little while, but many chickens quickly figure out that they’re not real and return to their old ways.
And make sure to move the decoys around every so often to keep the illusion up. If they remain in the same place for too long, your chickens will catch onto the ruse!
4. Create a Water Barrier to Protect Your Porch
Most chickens hate being sprayed with water, and they also hate being startled. Combine these two dislikes and you’ve got an effective way to keep chickens off your porch: motion-activated sprinklers.
Hook one up to your garden hose and position it at the base of your porch steps. When a chicken approaches, the motion detector will make the sprinkler start spraying a jet of water, and that’s sure to keep your chickens at bay.
The downside is that motion-activated sprinklers can’t differentiate between chickens and people. So when you use your porch steps, you’ll get sprayed, too.
But if you’re able to avoid using your porch for a couple of weeks, that should be enough time for the sprinkler to train your chickens to stay off your porch. At that point, you can remove the sprinkler and get your poop-free porch back!
"People talk about fools counting chickens before they hatch. That's nothing. We name them."
-- Orson Scott Card, Alvin Journeyman