I am a believer in free-range chicken management. Due to predators I have had to adjust that vision.
After finding nothing but feathers littered on the ground in a 4' radius I restricted their habitat. To protect from hawks I created a 40' X 26' pen that included my compost pile and the hen house. A wooden frame was built that rests on the existing fence. I covered the entire structure with chicken wire.
Yesterday, feathers were littering the ground. All that was left was her comb and cheeks. My girls were only out during the sunlight hours and I cannot figure out how the varmint got in. Around the perimeter I buried wire 1' into the ground and place RR ties next to the wire. It is heart-breaking to raise 12 chickens and loose 4. The girls are not only egg-providers but beloved pets.
I am considering getting an outdoor dog to guard the flock. I can't stand to see the girls locked in a pen all day. It seems counter to their nature and cruel. But, I don't want to loose one more chicken.