Defending Chickens from Predators
I’m loosing some chickens to hawks and am thinking about a movable scarecrow. So far I have an owl mounted on the eve and about 15 reflective streamers tied to tree limbs and the chicken house …. seems to be helping. I think the young roosters are figuring out their job as well cause they step forward and sound the alarm every few hours.
Advise would be welcome.
I lock everyone up at night behind 1/2 hardware cloth and solid doors. But my girls and 2 roosters free range within a fenced area during the day. The fence is keeping 4 legged predators out but now hawks seem to have found us.
In my experience, if you don’t have some kind of barrier across the top, hawks are gonna hawk. You could even use just deer netting. Good luck!
My free range hens have been going nuts lately alarming about the hawk. What a racket they make screaming bloody murder. But so far I haven’t lost a single hen. They all head for cover when they hear the alarm call and the hawk just circles and then drifts off. But I’m thinking your advice is on the nail and I better do something or else I’m going to lose some
Two things: We have found that trees and shrubs under which the birds can find protection help. (We have not been successful in teaching all of our chickens to make use of these defense measures.) The second suggestion is one that we have not done, but makes sense and comes from a fellow I respect a lot. He installs (wild) bird houses around the perimeter of his chicken yard. His belief is that the wild birds he attracts will provide an early warning system for his flock of any aerial predators that show up in the area.
I have been keeping chickens for 9 years. One lost to a hawk and the entire flock of fourteen lost to a stray dog. The dog climbed the heavy wire fence around the chicken house and fell through the chicken wire that covered the top of the run. The new “roof” has more cross supports and the chicken wire is strongly woven together at all seams. It was heartbreaking. I never thought an animal would get through the top of the pen. The ladies now range with me as chaperone. Some folks raise a goose with their biddies for added protection.
We had chicken hawks long before we had our hens. couldn’t even let out the cat because of them. I d like to have a rooster or two to protect them,. But we have netting and complete coverage for them , but they will fuss when the hawk is around. I do not believe they are endangered, but they are protected by law. I have to contend with fox, coyote, hawk, bald eagle, raccoons, and opossums. And I am suburban. I wish I could train my dog to guard them, but she thinks of the hens more as food than family. I am pretty resolved that my attempt to keep them is futile. But it doesnt stop me from trying. I have camera’s and I will keep trying.. I ordered an owl decoy. But it disappeared in the mailing system somehow.
Not sure there is a good answer for hawks other than keeping your hens locked away, unless they learn ( very quickly ) with a good stud to care for themselves..
You are right about the trees as a refuge. We happen to have a great sprawling oak tree within the chicken enclosure. The pullets are starting to use it as a hiding place. I think they are getting some survival techniques as a learned behavior in the flock. The 35 girls all hide and the dominant rooster stands at the edge of the tree as a guard. Isn’t nature amazing?
And the wild bird house idea is brilliant! Thanks
I know two local farmers who both used netting overhead to confound the hawks. I’m not so sure about the owl but I wonder if putting up a bunch of crow decoys might help (although this is purely hypothetical speculation on my part). Since a hawk will attack, kill, and eat a crow, they may act like decoys to draw an attack towards them and away from the chickens. The second thing is, since flocking crows will gang up on a hawk that is a threat, there could be an intimidation factor at play. Witnessed both these events in my backyard when a hawk took down a crow and then its buddies came and ganged up on the hawk. I thought the crow was a goner as the hawk had it down on the ground and didn’t seem willing to give up its prize but finally the harassment was too much and the hawk took off, shortly thereafter followed by the traumatized crow, minus a few of its feathers.
The other possibility is guinea fowl as another early warning system.
I relate to so much of what’s been shared here. I had a very wise flock of dual purpose Speckled English Sussex that were very good about using natural cover for protection against sky-borne predators. It worked all summer and into the early winter (until the depth of snow meant they had to stay cooped). But it didn’t protect them from the following spring’s fox, who was smart enough to take out the rooster first – which is what prevented me from catching on to her assault until she’d wreaked nearly complete havoc.
We recently lost one of our girls to a hawk. We have large azalea’s in the yard around our oak trees. If the chickens see or hear the hawks, they make a beeline for the bushes. I’ve started reducing the foraging time to when I am working in the yard or garden, or letting them out of the pen later in the afternoon. They free range for a couple hours and make for the roost at dusk. Funny how people think it strange that you become attached to your chickens.