Originally Posted by Beekissed
Hides are a good idea even in a penned situation or a paddock style penning. I've seen pallets up on blocks with the soil scooped out...served as a hide and a dusting spot on hot days. My chickens will even utilize the fence line, as a cattle fence with barbed wire on top ain't so bad a wall to put your back up to when a hawk has to angle in to get you. It doesn't have to be fancy, it need merely get the job done.
I know this may sound paranoid and overly cautious but I don't even bend over my birds in the daytime and attempt to catch them. I feel that getting them used to and complacent about getting caught from above, and then nothing bad happening to them as a consequence, is asking for birds that don't know friend from foe. When I have to catch a bird, I wait until dark and lift them off the roost. It's easier for me and easier for them and they don't get used to "shadows from above" just holding them gently and putting them back down,if you know what I mean.
One could argue that this would make them comfortable with being snatched off the roost as well, but my birds aren't in any danger of this at all....the dogs lurk outside and nothing can get past their pop door. I try to deal with the realistic dangers in my setup and leave the rest to the almighty hounds.
Having said that, I will say I lost the best dog I had last year to old age and the younger isn't aggressive towards visiting dogs like she was, so now I have to add my 16 gauge to the protection of the flock. My ol' ma put down a repetitive stray just the other day and it is sometimes necessary to do preventative measures like this...if one sees a coon lurking around the coop you usually don't wait until he has a hen in his mouth before you remove him from the picture. The dog had no ID, no one came looking for him after several days and he had the potential to clear out my flock, costing me money and wasted time and effort. He had to go.
Before I get bad posts about how we moved into the wildlife's territory and they are only doing what they are supposed to be doing, I will state emphatically that all that is hogwash. Humans have been living on this land long enough to have established their own territory and have a right to protect it just like animals in the wild do their own. I don't march down to the coon's den and steal his scraps and I don't expect him to come to mine to steal my chickens. My territory.
Same with stray dogs. If they are obviously hunting dogs/hounds I'll ask around the neighborhood and see if anyone has lost one. If they have a collar with a phone number, I'll call and try to return the dog. If they look like a stray and act like a stray, I call it a stray and I try to run it off. If it comes back we have a date with a shotgun and a biscuit. My territory.