Today, we lost our very first chicken to a hawk. We've been keeping chickens for more than a year now, and this is the very first time it has happened. I saw the hawk with the chick flying away, and I was very upset. My chickens free range, I have 9 adults, with one dutch bantam who is the queen and she teaches everyone how to survive outside. However, I have 17 (now 16) 5 week old chicks (Cochin bantams and Polish) who have recently been transitioned from indoors to the outdoor sheltered run and coop. I am also starting to teach them to free range, by letting them out of the enclosed run, but now, they are back in again until I solve this problem.
Today, while the dogs were inside, a hawk came and took one of my gold laced polish chicks to heaven. I want to prevent this from happening again. Or at least, minimize more chick losses. I understand wholly that this is nature's way, a predator needs to eat, or feed its chicks, and I know this is natural, but I still feel the loss and the hurt stings, so I want to try to minimize chick losses. I know it is inevitable, but I want to make it difficult for the hawk to get more of my chickens.
It will take a while for the mother bantam queen to accept the remaining 16 chicks into the main flock, so in the mean time, they have to fend for themselves, when I'm not out or if the dogs are not out.
Now I have 2 issues -
1) How can I make the assimilation for the older flock accept the chicks faster, and thus teach them the tricks to survive, such as hide.
2) How can I scare the hawk away? Does anyone use a scarecrow and what other methods are there?
I do want the chickens to eventually free range, since we have an acre fenced in for them and my property has lots of trees, shrubs and bushes for them to hide, and they are now going to be kept in the sheltered run for a few more days. I'm letting the dogs spend more time outside to guard the chickens, but I can't leave them out all the time. There has to be some way. Please help.
Here is a pic of my Airedale terriers on guard duty when they are out watching the free ranging adults.