The Truth About How To Keep Chickens Off The Porch

Oh dear frustrated chicken raiser… Whether you are trying to keep chickens off your porch or you are trying to keep them out of your flower garden it can be REALLY frustrating to see your beautiful flowers torn up or your porch pooped on.

Chickens are great first-time backyard farm animals but no one tells you how aggravating it can be to keep free-range birds. We see the highlight reel on Instagram of all these beautiful backyard chickens, a beautifully decorated hen house, and baskets of fresh eggs. But never see the bare ground half-eaten garden area.

Let me just say one thing before I get into the tips to keep your chickens under control.

chicken on a porch

You can’t have free-ranging chickens 100% of the time and have your flower beds looking nice and your walking paths free of chicken poop. Just won’t work.

We have a chicken run in our fenced-in backyard that is about one-third of our one-acre lot. I love to grow things but trying to a vegetable garden in the backyard would be a recipe for disaster. All of my flowers are hanging out of reach or I keep them on the front porch out of their way.

Why Chickens Might Be Hanking Out On The Porch

The main reason they tend to hang out on the porch is because they know you are in there and you equal food to them. It’s where they see you go in and out.

The chickens can be all the way across the yard and they will come running when they see me coming out the back door.

Another reason they could be staying on the porch is if there is an overhang that keeps them out of the weather. So try not to make the back porch a welcoming place if at all possible. At the very least in the winter remove any tables or places they can hide to stay out of the weather.

We have a huge picnic table that stays on the back patio because we really don’t have another good place to put it. How much wood pergola kits would add to form and function! But that’s one for another day! The chickens are constantly changing out underneath it and you guessed it. Pooping like there is no tomorrow.

On bright sunny days, it’s not a big deal but in the winter they are staying out of the rain and snow. They don’t go back to the chicken coop because that is where they sleep. They naturally roam and look for food away from their nesting area.

How To Keep Chickens Off The Porch

The short answer and best way is you are going to have to keep your chickens penned up if you don’t want poop all over.

You could put up a gate but I don’t really think they would stop them. Or if they were a breed that didn’t jump to much they would just hang out at the gate and you would have a huge pile to get over.

NEVER feed your chickens on the porch whether you are giving them treats or chicken feed. Make sure to feed them far away from where you want them to stay.

chicken on a deck

Tips To Keep Chickens Contained

Now let’s assume that you are cool with keeping your chickens contained in their given coop space.

Here are some of the most effective ways to keep chickens where you want them to stay.

Spray Them With Water

Chickens don’t like to get wet so you can try giving them a good bath with a garden hose or a spray bottle filled with water to keep them off the porch.

If they still come back when you don’t have the hose around you could consider a motion sensor sprinkler but you would just have to remember when you go out or you might get a taste of your own medicine.

Completely Closed In Chicken Run

Having a chicken coop with a completely closed-in chicken run with the top covered in wire cloth is the easiest way to keep chickens where you want them. It’s going to be the best way to keep the chickens where you want them to stay. It is also the safest for them because it will help keep flight predators out like hawks.

If you do decide to go with a closed-in run you can occasionally let them out for free-ranging time but you will soon find out they will go where ever they can get to if not closed up.

At a minimum, you will need to have a coop run that has a four-foot fence to have some kind of boundary line.

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Clip Their Flight Feathers

You might have an agile breed that can jump or fly over a fence. If this is the case then you might want to consider clipping the chicken’s wing feathers.

This doesn’t hurt them one big is just like getting a haircut.

Here is how you could do that.

  • You will need a pair of sharp scissors.
  • It is easiest to catch the chickens at night after they have already gone to bed. You won’t have to chase them around the yard to catch them and the chickens are pretty much lethargic. They pretty much freeze even though they might squawk and make some noise because their eyesight is pretty bad.
  • Once you have the chicken it is easier to have one person hold the chicken and the other trim the flight feathers.
  • You want to trim the feathers about halfway up the wing. When you spread the wing out you will notice two layers of feathers That is the line you want to cut across. Trim the feathers up to where you see the blue line in the image below.
Where to trim a chickens wing

ONLY TRIM ONE WING!!! If you trim both you will give them their aerodynamics back. The whole point is to put them off balance so their wings don’t help them get over the fence.

Chicken Breeds That Can’t Jump Or Get Off The Ground

This is my own observation and preference.

I like to keep thick chicken breeds that are not all that driven to get out or breeds that can’t get off the ground. It’s a great way to save your sanity and not have to keep trimming feathers and getting frustrated with your birds. They keep laying well through the winter because they are a heavier breed so their energy isn’t spent keeping warm.

We keep Cochin chicken breeds and I think they are the best.

Here are some other breeds that I have had that don’t get off the ground as easily as some of the slender birds.

  • Cochin – Hens weigh 8.5 pounds and roosters weigh as much as 11 pounds. (These are not listed as laying a very high number in eggs but if you give them a light that gives them 14hrs of light a day during the winter months we have always had great success with them laying most of the year.)
  • Salmon Faverolle – Hens weigh about 6.5 pounds and roosters weigh 8 pounds. These are another clam breed and are not likely to get out of their pen.
  • Brahma – Hens weigh around 9.5 pounds and roosters can get to be as large as 12 pounds
  • Jersey Giant – Hens weigh 10 pounds and roosters can get to be as big as 13 pounds. These are surprisingly good layers for just a large breed.
  • Wyandotte – Hens weigh about 6.5 pounds and roosters weigh about 8 pounds. These can still get out of a fence but they are not a very rambunctious breed so if you clip their wings they tend to stay where they are put.

If the breed is more light on their feet like leghorns and those Island reds they will likely get out of the fence even with their wings clipped. They have strong legs and can jump over a four foot chain link fence with no problem. If you have a tall fence this will keep them in but don’t count on it.

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Positive Reinforcement vs. Negative Reinforcement

So here is my stance on that. Chickens or any other animal in nature all give each other negative consequences for their actions. There is a reason for that. It works. You do something against the law and you will have negative consequences for your actions.

I don’t think it’s a bad option or wrong for animals to learn the same way. Sure don’t be brutal about it but swatting them with a broom to get them off your back porch isn’t going to kill them.

Things I Think Are Not Going To Work And Why

The issue with a fake owl or fake predators ais the chickens will get used to it. It might scare them away for a while but once it doesn’t move they will just ignore whatever you put on the porch.

Be Careful With a bb gun.

These are ok to use but make sure they are low-powered enough that if you shoot the bird at a close distance you don’t penetrate the skin. You don’t want to end up killing your bird on accident.

Electric Fences May Not Work

This is more expensive but if you know you plan to stay at your house for a while or you plan to keep chickens and what a more permanent solution. BUT here is the issue and why they may not work.

The chickens would have to touch the fence to get the shock. And most chickens tend to jump the fence without touching the wire anyway. They may touch the top with their feet but that’s about it.

Essential Oils And Spices

Here is the problem with using strong smells like black pepper, citrus peels, and things like that as a natural chicken deterrent.

Chickens are pretty strong animals when it comes to food. They really don’t care about much.

If you use spices they will soon lose their potency and it just becomes a nuisance.

If you use citrus peels they may work for a day or two but they will soon dry out and honestly, it will just make your porch look like a trash can.

What To Do If It’s Your Neighbor’s Chickens

It depends on how much you want to be at odds with your neighbors…

But the first thing you need to do is going talk to them and ask them what you can work out. Letting your animals poop on other people’s yards is not right but some people don’t care.

Chickens Don’t Like To Get Wet

Like I said before they don’t like to get wet so the first thing I would try is spraying them with a water bottle. You may even try putting some lemon juice in the water to make it more annoying to them.

If it seems to work and they don’t like it BUT they keep showing up then consider motion-activated sprinklers.

Fence Off Where They Come Through

Use a chicken wire fence to close off the area where you see the chickens come through. You can use these temporary stakes to hold up the fence and see if it slows down the free-range chickens.

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Get A Hunting Dog (Preascead with Caution)

This might seem a little extreme but it depends on how annoyed you are with the chickens. Just be careful that if you get a dog with a strong hunting drive you may end up with a dead chicken and you will have to explain that to your neighbors if the dog gets caught. You may also have a hard time keeping the dog off your neighbor’s property.

chickens walking on a porch

Start with the least expensive preventative measures and work your way up. You don’t want to put in a ton of money only to find out something cheaper would have worked.

Using all of these “nice guy” kind of methods is fine but you could end up with your hard work ruined because you didn’t want to be mean to your own chickens. If you are serious about keeping the chickens off your porch area do what you need to do. Chickens are stubborn and are going to do what they want to do.

Keeping chickens can be fun and a great addition to your backyard farm but you need to have a containment plan if you want to have a good time and enjoy your chickens.

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