I have had my 6 peeps since April 12. They are now getting big and in a Green Chicken Coop tractor and run. They are securely locked in at night and I have had no problems with predators. Two weeks ago my neighbor started losing some of his flock to a hawk. He saw the hawk swoop down and carry away a little Americauna fledgling 4 months old. Mine had been running about during the day and enjoying life. I quickly slammed the door on their fun and am now possessed with keeping them out of flying talons. I ordered a portable poultry fence that can be electrifed and that has helped confine their roaming. They spend most of their time under my grapefruit bush or in the coop area. I was not satisfied and also bought the SCARE EYES balloons and hung those inside the fence. My poor girls are terrifed of the balloons and run like crazy for the grapefruit bush when I let them out of the coop. They squawk and fly and can't get under the bush fast enough. I also got 300 feet of party flag banners to hang but I have not done that yet. I think I need some help here. They are 16 weeks old and will probably be too scared to start laying when the time comes due to my hawk obsession. I just want to protect them not scare them to death. HELP!
I have a SERIOUS hawk problem here. I have had nearly all off my chickens killed by hawks over the years. Every spring I would get 8 or 10 new hens and by fall they would all be dead. I have watched the hawks sit on my barn doors and silos and wait to grab one. I finally just buckled down and built a nice huge run that they stay in 22 hours a day. 2 hours or so they are let out in the late EVENING (never the morning when hawks are hunting heavily.) It was very expensive, and the thing is a HUGE building-like structure, but 100% absolutely worth it.
There is no deterrant for hawks - I don't care what people say about CDs and sparkly things and fake owls. THEY DON'T WORK. The only thing that is mildly effective is a large murder of crows ganging up on them.
When my chickens are free ranging a couple hours in the evening before bed, I am out there with them constantly. One morning before we built the run I had my chickens running free. It was about 9 a.m. and I was out there cleaning horse stalls. A hawk dive bombed my flock, and flew right in the barn door after one of the hens, and I was standing RIGHT THERE! He totally ignored me and went after a chicken, nearly crashing directly into me.
Once red tails learn they have a free buffet, they are vicious attackers that are NOT easily deterred. The only way to get rid of them is to lock up their food source.
I think it's safe to free range them in the evening hours though, if you're out there with them. I have never once observed a hawk in the evening hours around my farm. I don't know where they go, or if they go to roost very early, or what? But on any given day there are at least 2 pair of them circling and hunting the fields. They disapear when evening falls though. So if it were me, I'd keep your birds locked up all day and then let them out in the evening while you can be out there watching them.
Good luck. I did everything too and I finally lost my battle with the hawks and had to build an expensive, elaborate structure that they can live in all the time. It had to be big so they can fly and run and basically be "free" without being free.
When I was a kid, my grandmother was a chicken farmer. She raised chickens for show, meat, and eggs. It was her only job. She had a terrible hawk problem and she started shooting them with the shot gun. No, it's not legal! But she did it, because she said once you get a hawk on your farm, they will NOT leave, EVER. I will never forget my grandmother running across the lawn with a 12 guage and dropping a hawk that was diving for a hen. I thought grandma was Chuck Norris! Good grief. She always said - well when the government wants to come in here and give me hundreds of dollars to cover my losses, then I'll quit shooting their ****** hawks! LOL
Edited by RaeRae2 - 7/26/12 at 7:59am
Farmers didnt hurt the hawk population - DDT did. Hawks are extremely over populated around here. I cant even take a box of pen raised quail out to train my dog without a hawk swooping down trying to take the birds. I even see where they are now feeding on squirrels. The Hawks have decimated the game bird population.
It is half cement and half dirt/grass. The cement was existing - we didn't pour that. I would say the run was just over $1,000 and it is 24x27 feet and 6 feet high. It is all hardware cloth. Half of it is roofed in steel and the other half of the roof is heavy duty bird netting.
I have 3 big dogs, and the other types of predators are very slim around here. We had one mangey fox one time, and last winter we had coyotes but they were after my miniature horse. If they should show back up, I can lock the chickens in their house, which is something like 12x14x8 feet.
Here you can see their house (the door is open) and their run attached to it. There is a sliding steel side door in their house that opens into the run.
The house was already there (it is the old milkhouse for the barn) so we didn't have to pay any money to build that. I just cleaned everything out of it and put shavings down on the floor. We built a roost and bolted it to the wall, and the next boxes are just old boxes I had laying around that I filled with shavings and hay.
I put up one of those Magic Screens (as seen on TV) deals on the front door of their house. That way when I'm out there, I can open the big steel door, and they can get breeze and sun but if I don't want them getting out, the screen prevents them.
Their house is heated and air conditioned and has running water and electricity. If you can use an old room on your garage or existing barn like we did, I think that is the best way to go. This used to be my feed and tack room for my horses, but it was going to be incredibly expensive to build them a house so we decided to just use this.
If I had it to do all over again, I would not change anything. If I had to get a loan to build the run, I would have done that. I had gotten to the point that because of hawks, I could not have chickens...period! If I wanted chickens, they NEEDED a secure run. Sad state of affairs, but once those danged red tails move in, loook out!
Edited by RaeRae2 - 7/27/12 at 9:34am
Good luck to you and your flock! I don't know the first thing about any other predators and how they work, how to deter them, and so forth, but hawks is the one thing I feel like I know something about after all these years battling them. Ugh. It gets frustrating when I read the threads saying a hawk won't take a full sized chicken, or that you can hang up some shiny CDs to keep the hawks away...I wish that was true in my case. The little tiny hawks might not be much of a threat but the full sized red tails, especially if they are breeding pairs, are baaaad news. If your neighbor's chickens are being killed by hawks, they are most likely red tails.