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Aerial Predators When Free Ranging?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Oktober, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. Oktober

    Oktober In the Brooder

    Jun 6, 2011
    Rhode Island

    I am in the planning stage of my first coop and I've got a good idea where I'll be placing my coop on our property. I'm planning on having an enclosed run attached to the coop (most likely underneath it) which should give the girls some place to stretch their legs during the day. However, I also would like to let the birds free-range a bit when I am out in the yard. We own ~2 acres and our property abuts a larger wild pasture next door. My concern is how much do I have to worry about aerial predators while my birds are out free-ranging. There are some trees on the edge of the yard (where the coop will be) as well as the edge of the pasture. But should I be concerned that the chickens will always be in jeopardy from a hawk while they are out in the open free-ranging? Are there any precautions I can take, as it would be a shame to not let them roam my yard as well as part of the pasture.

    Secondly, are chickens away of the dangers that might be in the sky, or are they ignorant to it? Will they stay close to cover or in groups while free-ranging, or do they just go where their feet take them? I'm trying to get a feel for how much risk the birds will be in when they are in the open areas or if I'm building the risk up more than I should?

    I appreciate the advice. My birds will be here in 2 weeks!

    Best Regards,


  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    My chicks came from a hatchery, which means they'd never seen the great outdoors. My brooder was inside the house, with temps too low to take them outdoors. Then they went to the coop - still too cold to allow them out in the run. FINALLY they made it out to the run, and I'd open the run door while I was out there with them to let them peck about and explore. You should have seen them dive for shelter when even a little speck of an airplane or sparrow flew over. So I guess it's innate that they have that fear of overhead "predators." As the weeks went by, they learned to ignore the airplanes and most of the birds. But they still head for cover when crows, canadian geese, herons, or hawks put in an appearance.

    Both my big girl flock and my babies free range when someone is at home. They have runs, but like you, I hate to waste all this nice land. My birds always get in close to buildings, under cars, or under trees when hawks are circling the fields around us. We did not have a rooster our first year with chickens, and they did it then, so he hasn't made a difference in that regard. I think it's natural for most chickens to be on the lookout for overhead predators.

    Now, ours aren't so cautious about ground predators, I think because they are so use to mingling with our dogs and cats??? I watched them follow a groundhog along our fenceline, just clucking and carrying on and craning their necks. It was daylight, but I couldn't help but assume they would have done the same thing if it'd been a raccoon...
  3. kelidei

    kelidei ~*Dances with chickens*~

    Mar 18, 2009
    Northern Illinois

    First, Welcome!!!

    My chickens do not routinely free range because our major predator problem IS hawks and owls [​IMG] But I can vouch for the fact that my roos always have an eye to the sky and will sound an alarm when anything large flies over and even though the are in a covered run they will run for cover when the alarm is sounded. If they have enough hiding places and you are out there most hawks aren't that brazen... but you have to be prepared for the inevitable... once in a while you will lose one... whether it is a predator, illness or freak accident. I have some turkeys so as soon as I feel they are large enough they will be allowed to free range but they too will have a covered run and shed for protection.

    I provide cut greens for my birds everyday and they seem to find enough bugs just digging around in their runs. I leave bricks and larger stones and logs in their runs. They know when I turn them over there is a luscious variety of juicy bugs underneath. [​IMG]
  4. Cynth

    Cynth Songster

    Apr 13, 2011
    Lyman, Maine
    We were told hang shiney things in the sky to deter hawks. So we strung up shiney dollar store tasley things today. Tell you how that goes.
  5. Oktober

    Oktober In the Brooder

    Jun 6, 2011
    Rhode Island
    Thanks for the info!


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